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Background

The skin possesses unique biochemical properties that allow it to protect and conform to the body that it covers. Elements constituting the dermis—collagen and elastin—primarily afford these properties.

Objectives

To define these properties and explore their relevance with regard to aging skin and dermatologic surgery.

Materials and Methods

In the first part of this review, the determinants of mechanical properties of the skin will be outlined, through an extensive review of the literature. General physical properties that explain the behavior of skin will be defined, and diseases that manifest the extremes of those properties will be discussed. In the second half of this discussion, the surgical implications of skin biomechanics will be reviewed.

Results

Emphasis will be placed on understanding how dermatologic surgeons may optimally use skin properties to produce the best cosmetic and functional outcomes possible.

Conclusion

Understanding of the biomechanical properties of skin is paramount to obtain the best cosmetic outcomes in dermatologic surgery.