You may be wondering, “Why do I need a fancy instrument to tell me how well my skin is aging.” Most of think that just looking in the mirror ought to suffice, yet studies have demonstrated that facial skin appearance (photoaging) is more affected by the amount of sun exposure than chronological age. As such it is not a great biomarker of aging. Interestingly, intrinsic skin aging, the loss of elasticity and fine wrinkling that occur in areas of your body that receive relatively little sunshine, correlates very closely with age. Even more interesting, is that the linear change in elasticity is hard to appreciate with the naked eye until it is relatively advanced.
To measure intrinsic skin aging we use the Cutometer, an instrument that has been validated in hundreds of studies of skin aging over the past 25 years. It works by applying a sequence of precise and gentle suctions to a small area of skin and then measuring with an optical sensor how much the top two layers of your skin move with each suction. The movement is very slight—only 0.2-0.5 mm—much less than the amount it moves when doing a “pinch test” to see how fast your skin returns to normal after pinching it between your two fingers, pulling it up, and releasing it. Yet by involving only the top two layers, the Cutometer can non-invasively assess the amount and structure of the collagen and elastic in your skin. The result is reported as skin elasticity percent: the extent to which your skin returns to its original position after being stretched and released. When you finish adolescence, the average skin elasticity is almost 90%; with each passing year the average person loses about 1%, leaving the average 80 year old with about 35% elasticity.
Skin elasticity as measured by the Cutometer has been correlated with bone density and shown to be improved by HRT in women. For many years elasticity measurements with the Cutometer® have been recognized as the gold standard in dermatology and cosmetology and have been used to support the latest discoveries in both fields. Due to its precision and ease of use compared to other elasticity measurement methods, the Cutometer® is mentioned in most studies on this subject worldwide.