Linear focal elastosis

Author: Dr Beth Wright, Medical Registrar, Perth, Australia, 2012.

What is linear focal elastosis?

Linear focal elastosis is an uncommon dermal elastosis (elastosis refers to degenerative changes in elastic fibres). Only 24 cases have been reported since it was first described in 1989 [1].

What does linear focal elastosis look like?

To the naked eye linear focal elastosis appears as yellow, palpable lines or striae, usually extending horizontally over the lower back or legs.

Who does linear focal elastosis affect?

There are more cases of linear focal elastosis reported in males than in females, and the age of affected individuals ranges between seven and 89 years [2]. There is no evidence of any racial or ethnic predilection [3].

How does linear focal elastosis present?

Linear focal elastosis is usually asymptomatic and is diagnosed incidentally.

It has most commonly been reported to affect the lumbar back region, however there are also reports of linear focal elastosis on the trunk, lower limbs and face [4,5].

How is linear focal elastosis diagnosed?

Linear focal elastosis is diagnosed clinically by its appearance and distribution, and on skin biopsy. Histology shows a focal increase in abnormal elastic fibres in the dermis.

What causes linear focal elastosis?

The pathogenesis of linear focal elastosis is uncertain.

There are several reports of linear focal elastosis and striae distensae (stretch marks) co existing in the same distribution in affected individuals [1,3]. It has been proposed that linear focal elastosis may represent excessive regeneration of damaged elastic fibres as part of the repair process of striae distensae [6]. However some authors have disputed this, due to differing clinical and histopathological appearances of the disorders.

How is linear focal elastosis treated?

No effective treatment has been described.

Related information

Email Newsletter

Would you like to receive our dermatology updates by email?


Submit your images

We're seeking high-quality photos of skin diseases.  


Machine diagnosis

Watch DermNet's proposal to create a 'Skin Disease Image Recognition Tool' - winner of the 2017 'Clinicians' Challenge Active Award' by the NZ Ministry of Health and HiNZ.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
DermNet NZ Newsletter