BACKGROUND: In the present study, we aimed to evaluate the influence of aging on the skin quality of white-skinned women by assessing collagen levels, elastic material density, and vascularization.
METHODS: Histological and morphometric analyses were performed on 218 preauricular skin fragments from white-skinned women who underwent facial cosmetic surgery. Anti-CD34 was used to identify the blood vessels, Weigert's staining was used to visualize elastic fibers, and Picro-sirius Ultra Red staining was employed for analyzing and quantifying the expression of type I, III, and total collagen. Data were analyzed according to the following donor age groups: < 40, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, and > 70 years.
RESULTS: Fragmentation and disorganization of collagen fibers were observed in certain samples, particularly in samples from patients aged > 60 years. Significant differences between age and the thickness of the dermis and epidermis were not detected. However, a relationship was identified between age and the percentages of type I, III, and total collagen, and an increase of elastic fibers density was associated with age progression (P < 0.001). The comparison of the skin of patients with a decade difference in age did not reveal a significant difference in the elastic material quality; however, when the age difference was of 2 decades or more, there was a significant difference in elastic fibers (P < 0.05). The difference in the number of blood vessels between the groups was not significant (P = 0.112).
CONCLUSIONS: Aging promoted collagen reduction, fiber degradation and fragmentation, and increased disorganized elastic material density; however, it did not affect the number of dermal blood vessels.
Keywords: Skin. Collagen. Skin aging. Blood vessels. Elastic tissue.