Thirty years ago, the aging upper face was generally ignored by surgeons performing facial rejuvenation surgery. Ultimately, the coronal incision forehead lift technique became an accepted procedure, with most surgeons raising the forehead flap at the subgaleal plane. These surgeons found the subgaleal plane to be the “natural” or most accessible dissection plane to use, and it continues to be the most commonly used dissection plane for foreheadplasty today. However, some surgeons have begun to advocate using the subperiosteal plane, and controversy surrounds the question of which dissection plane is more surgically sound for raising a forehead flap.
On the basis of 25 fresh cadaver dissections and more than 20 years of clinical experience with foreheadplasty, the author concludes that dissection done at the subperiosteal rather than the subgaleal plane provides greater benefit to the patient. Although both subgaleal and subperiosteal planes can provide relative ease of dissection, elevation of the forehead flap at the subperiosteal plane can maximally preserve blood supply for the forehead flap and predictably preserve long-term frontoparietal scalp sensation. The deep division of the supraorbital nerve, which provides sensation to the frontoparietal scalp, is placed at risk for transection with subgaleal elevation of the forehead flap.
The skin incision approach chosen for the forehead flap can also affect postoperative frontoparietal scalp sensation. The deep division of the supraorbital nerve will always be transected by a coronal incision approach for forehead flap elevation, with dissection done at either the subgaleal or the subperiosteal level. Only limited scalp incisions placed to avoid the course of the deep division of the supraorbital nerve can avoid transecting this nerve, and only subperiosteal dissection of the forehead flap can predictably preserve this nerve while elevating the forehead flap. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 102: 478, 1998.)