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Drugs Aging. 2001;18(8):607-20.

Age-related changes in wound healing.

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  • 1Division of Geriatric Medicine, St Louis University Health Science Center, Missouri 63104, USA.


Evidence for age-related effects on wound healing have been derived for the most part from empirical observations without adjustment for confounders other than age. Age-related changes in the structure and function of the skin do occur. Some of these changes result from chronic solar radiation exposure rather than chronological age per se. The tensile strength of wounds, accumulation of wound healing factors and rate of wound closure have all been examined in relation to chronological aging. However, the clinical impact of these changes in acute wound healing appears to be small. Poor healing in chronic wounds is more often related to comorbid conditions rather than age alone. Since the majority of these chronic wounds occur in elderly populations, this has contributed to the conclusion that aging itself may influence healing. Progress in understanding the role that growth factors play in wound healing and the ability to synthesise adequate quantities of these factors for clinical use has led to clinical trials evaluating their use in wound healing. The results of these studies, with the possible exception of those in diabetic wounds, have been disappointing. Insight into the wound healing process indicates that growth factors interact during wound healing in a sequential and orderly process. Improved wound healing may require different clinical designs or the use of these factors in a precisely timed sequential administration.

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