In Si0.88Ge0.12/Si strained layers misfit dislocations formed during growth in small pads are generated at a significantly higher critical thickness than on extended areas, while pads of lateral size of 10 μm or smaller show no evidence of misfit dislocations at all. The SiGe layers investigated were selectively grown on patterned substrates with pad sizes from 2 μm to 1 cm. An elastic relaxation model was used to calculate the pad size dependence of the critical thickness. The main hypothesis of the model is that the density of misfit dislocations is solely affected by the elastic relaxation at the edges of small epitaxial areas. This equilibrium model is able to explain the observed absence of misfit dislocations on small pads, however it predicts a critical thickness for finite sizes much lower than the observed one.