The relationship between skin stretching/contraction and pathologic scarring: The important role of mechanical forces in keloid generation


Reprint requests:

Dr. Rei Ogawa, Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, Nippon Medical School, 1-1-5 Sendagi Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8603, Japan.

Tel: +81 3 5814 6208;

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Keloids tend to occur on highly mobile sites with high tension. This study was designed to determine whether body surface areas exposed to large strain during normal activities correlate with areas that show high rates of keloid generation after wounding. Eight adult Japanese volunteers were enrolled to study the skin stretching/contraction rates of nine different body sites. Skin stretching/contraction was measured by marking eight points on each region and measuring the change in location of the marked points after typical movements. The distribution of 1,500 keloids on 483 Japanese patients was mapped. The parietal region and anterior lower leg were associated with the least stretching/contraction, while the suprapubic region had the highest stretching/contraction rate. With regard to keloid distribution, there were 733 on the anterior chest region (48.9%) and 403 on the scapular regions (26.9%). No keloids were reported on the scalp or anterior lower leg. Because these sites are rarely subjected to skin stretching/contraction, it appears that mechanical force is an important trigger that drives keloid generation even in patients who are genetically predisposed to keloids. Thus, mechanotransduction studies are useful for developing clinical approaches that reduce the skin tension around wounds or scars for the prevention and treatment of not only keloids but also hypertrophic scars.