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Aging Changes of the Midfacial Fat Compartments: A Computed Tomographic Study

Gierloff, Matthias M.D., D.M.D.; Stöhring, Christine M.D.; Buder, Thomas; Gassling, Volker M.D., D.M.D.; Açil, Yahja Ph.D.; Wiltfang, Jörg M.D., D.M.D., Ph.D.

Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery: January 2012 - Volume 129 - Issue 1 - p 263–273
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3182362b96
Cosmetic: Original Articles
Discussion

Background: The restoration of a natural volume distribution is a major goal in facial rejuvenation. The aims of this study were to establish a radiographic method enabling effective measurements of the midfacial fat compartments and to compare the anatomy between human cadavers of younger versus older age.

Methods: Data from computed tomographic scans of 12 nonfixed cadaver heads, divided into two age groups (group 1, 54 to 75 years, n = 6; and group 2, 75 to 104 years, n = 6), were analyzed. For evaluation of the volume distribution within a specific compartment, the sagittal diameter of the upper, middle, and lower thirds of each compartment was determined. For evaluation of a “sagging” of the compartments, the distance between the cephalad border and the infraorbital rim was determined.

Results: Computed tomography enables a reproducible depiction of the facial fat compartments and reveals aging changes. The distance between the fat compartments and the infraorbital rim was higher in group 2 compared with group 1. The sagittal diameter of the lower third of the compartments was higher, and the sagittal diameter of the upper third was smaller in group 2 compared with group 1. The buccal extension of the buccal fat pad was shown to be an independent, separate compartment.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates an inferior migration of the midfacial fat compartments and an inferior volume shift within the compartments during aging. Additional distinct compartment-specific changes (e.g., volume loss of the deep medial cheek fat and buccal extension of the buccal fat pad) contribute to the appearance of the aged face.

Kiel and Erlangen, Germany

From the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, the Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Christian-Albrechts-University, and the Institute of Anatomy, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg.

Received for publication March 3, 2011; accepted June 27, 2011.

Disclosure: The authors have no financial interest in this research project or in any of the techniques or equipment used in this study.

Matthias Gierloff, M.D., D.M.D.; Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel, Arnold-Heller-Strasse 16, 24235 Kiel, Germany, gierloff@mkg.uni-kiel.de

©2012American Society of Plastic Surgeons