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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2012 Jan;129(1):263-73. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3182362b96.

Aging changes of the midfacial fat compartments: a computed tomographic study.

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Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Christian-Albrechts-University, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Kiel and Erlangen, Germany.



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.


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.


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.


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.

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