Wrinkling due to mid-dermal elastolysis: two cases and literature review

B K Rao, C H Endzweig, M H Kagen, D Kriegel, R G Freeman
Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery 2000, 4 (1): 40-4

BACKGROUND: Mid-dermal elastolysis is an acquired disorder of elastic tissue clinically characterized by diffuse fine wrinkling, most often of the trunk and arms. Histologically, a clear band of elastolysis is present in the mid-dermis.

OBJECTIVE: Although examples of diffuse elastolysis are well known, only a small number of patients with mid-dermal elastolysis have been reported to date. We present two patients with clinical and histological evidence of mid-dermal elastolysis, review the literature, and summarize the salient features of some common disorders of elastic tissue.

METHODS: The first patient presented with fine wrinkles and papules over the upper arms, upper chest, and axillae, and demonstrated increased laxity of the eyelids. The second patient had striking wrinkles extending in a band-like pattern on her arms, upper chest, back, and abdomen. Neither one of our patients had a previous history of skin inflammation, urticaria, or any other underlying diseases related to their skin changes. Skin biopsies were taken from lesional and perilesional skin of both patients, and were stained with hematoxylin and eosin, and with elastic tissue stain. In addition, a tissue sample from Patient 1 was fixed for electron-microscopy.

RESULTS: Hematoxylin and eosin stains did not demonstrate specific changes or diagnostic patterns. However, elastic tissue stains revealed a band-like loss of elastic tissue in the mid-dermis. Elastic tissue in the remaining superficial and deep dermis stained normally. Electron-microscopy was consistent with these findings and revealed significant loss of elastic tissue limited to the mid-dermis.

CONCLUSION: We have presented two cases of mid-dermal elastolysis and reviewed the literature. To date, the pathophysiology of mid-dermal elastolysis had not been elucidated and no definitive therapy exists.

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