Biomechanics of the Levator Aponeurosis

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Abstract

Purpose:

To investigate biomechanical properties of the levator aponeurosis.

Methods:

Patients undergoing external levator resection for primary or revision correction of acquired ptosis were analyzed as primary and revision groups. Immediately postoperatively, the resected segments of the levator aponeurosis were stressed by adding sequential masses to the tissue. Specimen length was recorded at each stress level. Stress–strain diagrams were used to summarize how the tissue elongated in response to the external forces, because these diagrams correct for differences in specimen size. Representative specimens were analyzed histologically.

Results:

Twenty-two specimens from 14 patients in the primary group and 10 specimens from 7 patients in the revision group met inclusion criteria. In the primary group, the mean age was 66 years; 8 patients were women. In the revision group, the mean age was 69 years; 6 patients were women. Levator aponeurosis specimens in both the primary and revision group demonstrated proportional increases in length with increasing stress, demonstrating that the levator aponeurosis is extensile. Given the same amount of stress, the levator aponeurosis from primary specimens elongated more than revision specimens. Histologically, revision specimens exhibited increased collagen and haphazard, tangled elastin fibers.

Conclusions:

The levator aponeurosis obtained during surgical correction of acquired ptosis elongates in response to nominal external forces. This biomechanical property is important because the length of the aponeurosis may vary intraoperatively if variable forces are applied to the eyelid. This property might be related to connective tissue architecture and, specifically, fibrosis. Surgeons performing levator aponeurosis resection should be mindful to maintain a consistent amount of force on the levator aponeurosis when performing the resection to maximize intercase consistency.

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