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Vol. 215, No. 4, 2007
Issue release date: October 2007
Dermatology 2007;215:284–294

Dermatoporosis: A Chronic Cutaneous Insufficiency/Fragility Syndrome

Clinicopathological Features, Mechanisms, Prevention and Potential Treatments

Kaya G. · Saurat J.-H.
Department of Dermatology, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland

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Background: Skin aging has long been considered only as a cosmetic problem. With the increase in lifespan, we are now more often experiencing a further dimension of skin aging, which is no longer only cosmetic, but also functional, in the sense that the skin has lost its protective mechanical function. Dermatoporosis is the name proposed to capture, in a holistic approach, all the aspects of this chronic cutaneous insufficiency/fragility syndrome. Observations: In this paper, we review the clinical aspects of dermatoporosis, its histological features and the current understanding of its etiological factors. The clinical manifestations of dermatoporosis comprise (i) morphologicalmarkers of fragility – rather trivial – such as senile purpura, stellate pseudoscars and skin atrophy, and (ii) functional expression of skin fragility resulting from minor traumas such as frequent skin laceration, delayed wound healing, nonhealing atrophic ulcers and subcutaneous bleeding with the formation of dissecting hematomas leading to large zones of necrosis. Dissecting hematomas bear significant morbidity needing hospitalization and urgent surgical procedures. Molecular mechanisms implying hyaluronate-CD44 pathways in the control and maintenance of epithelial growth and the viscoelastic properties of the extracellular matrix offer new opportunities for preventive intervention. Conclusion: We propose to group the different manifestations and implications of this syndrome under the umbrella term of ‘dermatoporosis’,because we think it will helpto capture the understanding of health professionals that, as osteoporosis, ‘dermatoporosis’should be prevented and treated to avoid complications. Dermatologists should be aware of this emerging syndrome and function as key players in prevention and therapy. Randomized clinical trials should demonstrate which intervention may best prevent and/or reverse dermatoporosis.

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