BACKGROUND: Injection of soft-tissue fillers into the facial fat compartments is frequently performed to ameliorate the signs of facial aging. This study was designed to investigate the functional anatomy of the deep facial fat compartments and to provide information on the effects of injected material in relation to age and gender differences. METHODS: Forty fresh frozen cephalic specimens of 17 male and 23 female Caucasian body donors (mean age, 76.9 ± 13.1 years; mean body mass index, 23.6 ± 5.3 kg/m(2)) were investigated. Computed tomographic and magnetic resonance imaging procedures were carried out using colored contrast-enhanced materials with rheologic properties similar to commercially available soft-tissue fillers. Anatomical dissections were performed to guide conclusions. RESULTS: No statistically significant influences of age or gender were detected in the investigated sample. Increased amounts of injected contrast agent did not correlate with inferior displacement of the material in any of the investigated compartments: deep pyriform, deep medial cheek, deep lateral cheek, deep nasolabial (located within the premaxillary space), and the medial and lateral sub-orbicularis oculi fat. CONCLUSIONS: Increasing volume in the deep midfacial fat compartments did not cause inferior displacement of the injected material. This underscores the role of deep soft-tissue filler injections (i.e., in contact with the bone) in providing support for overlying structures and resulting in anterior projection.
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