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Skin Res Technol. 2018 Feb;24(1):93-98. doi: 10.1111/srt.12395. Epub 2017 Sep 4.

Relationship between the retinacula cutis and sagging facial skin.

Author information

Skin Research Department, POLA Chemical Industries, Inc., Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan.
Sanno Medical Center, International University of Health and Welfare, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan.
Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Mita Hospital, International University of Health and Welfare, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan.



Sagging skin is one of the most concerning esthetic issues for elderly individuals. Although reduced skin elasticity has been reported as the cause of sagging skin, a loss of skin elasticity alone is insufficient to explain sagging facial skin. This study investigated the mechanisms underlying sagging skin, with a focus on the subcutaneous network of collagenous fibers known as the retinacula cutis (RC).


To evaluate the structure of the RC noninvasively, tomographic images of the face were obtained using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The RC was identified by comparing MRI results with histological specimens of human skin. A descriptive scale was used to evaluate the degree of sagging, and a device equipped with a 6-mm-diameter probe was used to measure the elasticity of deeper skin layers and evaluate the physical properties of the skin.


The density of RC in subcutaneous tissue correlated negatively with sagging scores and positively with elasticity.


These results imply that a sparse RC structure contributes to a reduction in the elasticity of subcutaneous tissue, resulting in a greater degree of sagging facial skin. These findings are expected to contribute to the understanding of the mechanisms underlying sagging skin.


elasticity; magnetic resonance imaging; retinacula cutis; skin sagging; subcutaneous tissue

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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