The Facial Adipose Tissue: A Revision
29 December 2016 (online)
Recent advantages in the anatomical understanding of the face have turned the focus toward the subcutaneous and deep facial fat compartments. During facial aging, these fat-filled compartments undergo substantial changes along with other structures in the face. Soft tissue filler and fat grafting are valid methods to fight the signs of facial aging, but little is known about their precise effect on the facial fat. This narrative review summarizes the current knowledge about the facial fat compartments in terms of anatomical location, histologic appearance, immune-histochemical characteristics, cellular interactions, and therapeutic options. Three different types of facial adipose tissue can be identified, which are located either superficially (dermal white adipose tissue) or deep (subcutaneous white adipose tissue): fibrous (perioral locations), structural (major parts of the midface), and deposit (buccal fat pad and deep temporal fat pad). These various fat types differ in the size of the adipocytes and the collagenous composition of their extracellular matrix and thus in their mechanical properties. Minimal invasive (e.g., soft tissue fillers or fat grafting) and surgical interventions aiming to restore the youthful face have to account for the different fat properties in various facial areas. However, little is known about the macro- and microscopic characteristics of the facial fat tissue in different compartments and future studies are needed to reveal new insights to better understand the process of aging and how to fight its signs best.