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From skin microrelief to wrinkles. An area ripe for investigation


G E Piérard, Department of Dermatopathology, CHU Sart Tilman, B-4000 Liège, Belgium. E-mail:


Skin microrelief alters progressively with age. Wrinkles do not result from these changes but are superimposed upon them. Wrinkles result from structural changes in the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis. Four types of wrinkles can be recognized.

Type 1 wrinkles are atrophic.

Type 2 wrinkles are elastotic.

Type 3 wrinkles are expressional.

Type 4 wrinkles are gravitational.

Each type of wrinkle is characterized by distinct microanatomical changes and each type of wrinkle develops in specific skin regions. Each is likely to respond differently to treatment. Skin microrelief and skin folds can be identified on histological examination. By contrast, only minimal dermal changes are found beneath permanent or reducible wrinkles compared with immediately adjacent skin. A series of objective and non-invasive methods is available to quantify the severity of wrinkling.

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