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J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2012 Oct;65(10):1292-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2012.04.047. Epub 2012 May 31.

The subcutaneous fat compartments in relation to aesthetically important facial folds and rhytides.

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Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel, Arnold-Heller-Strasse 16, 24105 Kiel, Germany.


The ideal treatment of the nasolabial fold, the tear trough, the labiomandibular fold and the mentolabial sulcus is still discussed controversially. The detailed topographical anatomy of the fat compartments may clarify the anatomy of facial folds and may offer valuable information for choosing the adequate treatment modality. Nine non-fixed cadaver heads in the age range between 72 and 89 years (five female and four male) were investigated. Computed tomographic scans were performed after injection of a radiographic contrast medium directly into the fat compartments surrounding prominent facial folds. The data were analysed after multiplanar image reconstruction. The fat compartments surrounding the facial folds could be defined in each subject. Different arrangement patterns of the fat compartments around the facial rhytides were found. The nasolabial fold, the tear trough and the labiomandibular fold represent an anatomical border between adjacent fat compartments. By contrast, the glabellar fold and the labiomental sulcus have no direct relation to the boundaries of facial fat. Deep fat, underlying a facial rhytide, was identified underneath the nasolabial crease and the labiomental sulcus. In conclusion, an improvement by a compartment-specific volume augmentation of the nasolabial fold, the tear trough and the labiomandibular fold is limited by existing boundaries that extend into the skin. In the area of the nasolabial fold and the mentolabial sulcus, deep fat exists which can be used for augmentation and subsequent elevation of the folds. The treatment of the tear trough deformity appears anatomically the most challenging area since the superficial and deep fat compartments are separated by an osseo-cutaneous barrier, the orbicularis retaining ligament. In severe cases, a surgical treatment should be considered. By contrast, the glabellar fold shows the most simple anatomical architecture. The fold lies above one subcutaneous fat compartment that can be used for augmentation.

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