An ongoing goal of aesthetic surgery is a reduction in complications and an improvement in reproducibility and speed. Balloon dissector devices have been used in other areas of surgery to achieve these goals. This report presents early clinical experience using a balloon dissector to elevate the skin flap in facialplasty. The first step in the technique is the creation of a tunnel from a small preauricular incision toward the oral commissure using scissors dissection. The balloon device is inserted into this tunnel and inflated. Unrolling the device elevates the skin flap in the cheek and neck area. Retroauricular dissection and final adjustment of flap size and shape is completed sharply. Subsequent superficial musculoaponeurotic system flap development, skin redraping, and closure is performed in a conventional fashion after customary facialplasty incisions are made. Comparison of complications, postoperative drainage, and time required for dissection and for hemostasis was made between a balloon–dissected side and a conventionally dissected side in 10 patients undergoing facialplasty. Ten additional patients were treated with balloon dissection bilaterally. Patients ranged in age from 45 to 73 years. Mean balloon dissection time was 1.4 minutes (range, 0.75-4 minutes). This produced an even flap thickness in the correct plane with few if any bleeding points. Mean total dissection time on the balloon side was significantly shorter—13.6 minutes—compared with 27.8 minutes (p<0.003) on the conventional side. Mean difference in time to hemostasis between conventional and balloon sides was 3.8 minutes (p<0.001). Mean total postoperative drainage (all drains removed at 24 hours) was 13.8 cc on the balloon side and 18.8 cc on the conventional side (not significant, p=0.08). Less ecchymosis and swelling was observed on the balloon side compared with the scissors-dissected side. There were no skin losses, hematomas, infections, or nerve injuries on either side. Appearance of skin redraping was comparable on each side in all patients. Balloon dissection represents a promising alternative means of creating rapid, reproducible skin flap elevation in facialplasty, and is associated with a minimum of bleeding, ecchymosis, and swelling.
Bass LS. A balloon-assisted facialplasty technique. Ann Plast Surg 1998; 40:335-34