Aging of the skin: implications for cutaneous surgery.
There are precious few benefits, save perhaps experience and wisdom, that those of advanced age may claim over those who continue to dwell in their youth. One somewhat paradoxical advantage, however, is the ability of older patients to apparently heal better than younger patients after cutaneous surgery. In older patients, the incision lines are less red, the scarring is less hypertrophic, and "normalization" of appearance occurs more rapidly. And yet, the "wrapping" does not necessarily reflect the contents of the "box." Unfavorable age-dependent alterations in the physical properties of the skin and the wound-healing cascade may affect the viability and structural integrity of the postoperative result. Surgery on the aged population must therefore couple the optimism for a pleasing aesthetic result with the caution reflecting a cutaneous substrate altered by the perturbations of time. This somewhat shaky balance, although not altogether understood, is worthy of study by the physician approaching the patient of advanced age.
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