High-Resolution Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Aging Upper Face Fat Compartments

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Age-related changes in fat compartments have yet to be fully characterized. Uncertainty remains in terms of volume gains/losses or shape fluctuations over time. The authors’ aim was to determine the evolution of subcutaneous fat in the aging upper face, focusing on shifts in volume and dimension.


Over the course of 4.5 years, 100 faces of living female Caucasian patients were prospectively studied using high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging. Subjects were stratified by age as follows: group 1, 18 to 30 years; group 2, 30 to 60 years; and group 3, older than 60 years. Superficial temporal and central forehead compartments were delimited, analyzing respective volumes and dimensions by group.


In 85 patients studied, superficial temporal fat (mean volume, 5.14 cm3) increased 35.48 percent in total volume between youth and old age (p = 0.046). Overall height and magnitude of the lower one-third also increased with aging. Central forehead fat (mean volume, 2.56 cm3), studied in 83 patients, showed a 209.75 percent volume gain in group 2 (versus group 1) and a 17.59 percent volume loss in group 3 (versus group 2) (p = 0.001).


Subcutaneous facial fat fluctuates with aging, increasing in the upper face and promoting ptosis through basal compartmental expansion.

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