Surgical Anatomy of the Midface as Applied to Facial Rejuvenation

Gloria M Gamboa, Jorge I. De La Torre, Luis O. Vasconez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Distinct anatomic structures provide attachments and support for the soft tissues of the central third of the face. Over time, laxity of these structures and descent of the malar fat pad contribute to the characteristic changes seen in the aging face. Mobilization of the midface soft tissues to allow reelevation of the malar fat pad is an effective method of rejuvenating the midface. A focused anatomic dissection of 8 fresh cadaver heads was performed to evaluate 4 soft-tissue structures that control mobilization of the malar fat pad. Specifically, the orbicularis retaining ligaments, the lateral orbital thickening, prezygomatic space, and zygomatic cutaneous ligaments were evaluated. The anatomic relationship of these structures explains the visible effect of aging in the central third of the face. In addition, it correlates with the outcomes of surgical rejuvenation as demonstrated in clinical cases. Effective repositioning of the malar fat pad was found to be reliably obtained by release of the lateral orbital thickening and the orbital retaining ligaments. Suspension of the malar soft tissue is in a cephalad direction after release of these structures recreates a youthful facial architecture. Motor nerve injury is less likely to occur with this technique than with traditional lateral facelift approaches. The conclusion reached is that ptosis of the malar fat pad can be corrected safely and effectively utilizing either the lower lid blepharoplasty approach or temporal prehairline incision. These findings were consistent with clinical data from facial rejuvenation procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-245
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Plastic Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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