Characterization of living skin using multi-view stereo and isogeometric analysis

Tepole, A. B.; Gart, M.; Gosain, A. K.; Kuhl, E.

Acta Biomater. 2014 Jul 13; 10(11):4822-4831


Skin is our interface with the outside world. In its natural environment, it displays unique mechanical characteristics, such as prestretch and growth. While there is a general agreement on the physiological importance of these features, they remain poorly characterized, mainly because they are difficult to access with standard laboratory techniques. Here we present a new, inexpensive technique to characterize living skin using multi-view stereo and isogeometric analysis. Based on easy-to-create hand-held camera images, we quantify prestretch, deformation and growth in a controlled porcine model of chronic skin expansion. Over a period of 5weeks, we gradually inflate an implanted tissue expander, take weekly photographs of the experimental scene, reconstruct the geometry from a tattooed surface grid and create parametric representations of the skin surface. After 5weeks of expansion, our method reveals an average area prestretch of 1.44, an average area stretch of 1.87 and an average area growth of 2.25. Area prestretch is maximal in the ventral region with a value of 2.37, whereas area stretch and area growth are maximal above the center of the expander, with values of 4.05 and 4.81, respectively. Our study has immediate impact on understanding living skin to optimize treatment planning and decision making in plastic and reconstructive surgery. Beyond these direct implications, our experimental design has broad applications in clinical research and basic sciences: it serves as a simple, robust, low cost, easy-to-use tool to reconstruct living membranes, which are difficult to characterize in a conventional laboratory setup.

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