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Plast Reconstr Surg. 1979 Dec;64(6):781-95.

Avoiding facial nerve injuries in rhytidectomy. Anatomical variations and pitfalls.


Injury to the facial nerve in rhytidectomy has been occurring in less than one percent of the cases, and a spontaneous return of function in more than 80 percent of these injuries has resulted within 6 months. With the introduction of the newer and more aggressive techniques of platysmal and subplatysmal flaps and SMAS dissections, the risk of injury to facial nerve branches is obviously increased. Though there has not yet been an increase in the facial nerve injuries reported, these techniques are still relatively recent additions to the face-lift operation-and usually they have been done by more experienced surgeons, taking more time and working under direct vision with a more careful dissection. More care is needed to prevent injuries. We discuss here the detailed anatomy of the muscular branches of the facial nerve, how to prevent injuries to them during rhytidectomy, and how to manage injuries when they do occur.

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