Langer’s Lines

Other known aliasesLanger’s lines of skin tension, cleavage lines

Definitiontopographical lines on the human body that correspond to the natural orientation of the collagen fibers of the dermis and are parallel to the orientation of the underlying muscle fibers

Clinical SignificanceIncisions made on the skin that run parallel with these lines produce much less tension on the wound, heal better with less scarring, and have a much better cosmetic appearance.  This is important in cosmetic surgery applications, as well as elective surgical procedures when you can select where to make your incision.

HistoryNamed after Karl Langer (1819-1887), an Austrian anatomist, who received his medical doctorate from the Universities of Vienna and Prague.  He worked under Joseph Hyrtl as a prosector for the University of Vienna and later becoming the director in 1874.  In his famous procedure discovering these tension lines, he punctured circular holes on the skin of cadavers and noticed that they would result in ellipisoidal wounds.  By following the direction of these ellipses, he was able to topographically map these lines on the entire body.  He did give credit to Baron Dupuytren as being the first to observe this phenomenon and published his findings in 1861 entitled “Zur Anatomie und Physiologie der Haut. Über die Spaltbarkeit der Cutis”

Karl Langer


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