Surgeons working on delicate areas and visible areas of the body, particularly in plastic and cosmetic surgery, have to keep in mind the direction of skin tension lines. These are formed by collagen fibers that are aligned within the dermis of the skin. If incisions are made against the grain, more visible scars will be a result.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell the direction of skin tension lines, so there are printed surface maps that are used, but individual patients may have their tension lines grow differently than in most people. There are also devices that can estimate the direction of these lines, but these require multiple readings and the results they provide are only estimates.
Researchers at Binghamton University in New York have now developed a device that takes only one reading and provides an immediate output as to the direction of the tension lines under its scope.
The technology will hopefully not only reduce scarring and make it more common to cut along skin tension lines, but that it will also speed up procedures and therefore reduce cost.
Here’s is some detail about how the technology works, according to the study abstract in journal Acta Biomaterialia:
The device painlessly applies a radial stress of 17 kPa to a region of skin, and captures radially asymmetric skin deformations via a dermal camera. These deformations are used to quantify orientations of strain extrema and the direction of greatest skin stiffness. The ratio of these asymmetric strains varies between 1 and −0.75. A simple 2D transverse isotropic model captures this behavior for multiple anatomical sites.
Study in Acta Biomaterialia: Non-invasive in vivo quantification of human skin tension lines…