With aging, the outer skin layer (epidermis) thins even though the number of cell layers remains unchanged. The number of pigment-containing cells (melanocytes) decreases, but the remaining melanocytes increase in size. Aging skin thus appears thinner, more translucent. Age spots or liver spots may appear in sun-exposed areas. Changes in the connective tissue reduce the skin's strength and elasticity. This is known as elastosis and is especially pronounced in sun-exposed areas.
Review Date 7/25/2020
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.