Characterization of the Cervical Retaining Ligaments During Subplatysmal Facelift Dissection and its Implications

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Abstract

Background:

The cervical retaining ligaments anchor the platysma and soft tissues of the neck to the deep cervical fascia and deeper skeletal structures. The cervical retaining ligaments tether the platysma and prohibit free mobilization and redraping of the platysma muscle in rhytidectomy. This ligament system has previously been described in the literature only qualitatively.

Objectives:

To define the anatomic dimensions of the cervical retaining ligaments and their relation to the platysma muscle in order to better understand the cervical retaining ligament system and how it limits motion of the platysma during rhytidectomy.

Methods:

Extended deep plane rhytidectomy was performed on 20 fresh cadaveric hemifaces. The extent cervical retaining ligaments were dissected and measured. The anterior extent (width) of the cervical ligament were recorded at three anatomic points on each hemiface: (1) at the level of the inferior border of the mandible; (2) at the top of the thyroid cartilage at the thyroid notch; and (3) at the level of the cricoid.

Results:

The average width of the cervical retaining ligaments in the neck was 15.3 mm. The width significantly decreased as they became more inferiorly positioned from the top of the neck at the anatomic measurement points, measuring 17.1 mm, 16.1 mm, and 12.6 mm (P < 0.05).

Conclusions:

The cervical retaining ligaments are the support mechanisms of the platysma muscle in the neck. While previously described in only a qualitative manner, this study quantifies the anterior extent of these ligaments and how they invest the lateral platysma muscle. As these ligaments tether the platysma for an average of 1.5 cm, lateral platysma elevation of this distance during rhytidectomy surgery can improve platysmal redraping during rhytidectomy and potentially improve neck rejuvenation.

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