The shrinkage of surgical specimens (SS) is known in human skin (HS) but has not been studied in an artificial skin (AS) or mouse skin (MS).
To quantify the degree of shrinkage of SS and establish its timing in HS and an in vitro and animal model to explore the possible causes of this phenomenon.
We collected 100 SS of HS, 50 SS of AS synthesized with fibrin-agarose biomaterials and 21 SS of MS. The width and length of specimens were measured before the surgical excision (pre-SE), at 5 minutes postsurgery (ex vivo), and after 24 hours of fixation in formalin (postfixation). Histological staining was performed to analyze the differences between HS, AS, and MS that may explain the differences in shrinkage.
Between pre-SE and postfixation, the width and length shrank by 16.1% and 17.1% in HS, 14.5% and 8.5% in AS, and 26.5% and 23.1% in MS (P < 0.01), respectively. Shrinkage largely occurred between pre-SE and ex vivo. Cells and interstitial fibers were scant in AS and abundant in MS.
Almost all of the shrinkage occurred during the first 5 minutes postsurgery. According to the AS model findings, 53.6% of SS shrinkage would be explained by the action of dermal fibers and other cellular components of the dermis.