Orbicularis Retaining Ligament Release in Lower Blepharoplasty: Assessing Efficacy and Complications

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Release of the orbicularis retaining ligament (ORL) has been advocated as a technique to address tear trough deformities. This study sought to compare the effectiveness and morbidity of lower blepharoplasty with and without ORL release.


Retrospective chart review of 53 lower blepharoplasty patients. Twenty-six patients had ORL release and 27 patients did not. Three independent masked experienced cosmetic surgeons reviewed preoperative and postoperative photographs to assess degree of swelling, ecchymosis, change in steatoblepharon and tear trough deformity, and overall aesthetic result.


There were no significant differences in overall aesthetic result, change in steatoblepharon or tear trough deformity, and postoperative ecchymosis in patients who had ORL release compared with those who did not. Patients who had ORL release had postoperative swelling and chemosis of significantly longer duration and a higher likelihood of developing postoperative ectropion.


Orbicularis retaining ligament release does not appear to result in additional aesthetic benefit in lower blepharoplasty patients and may increase morbidity in the form of ectropion and prolonged swelling and chemosis.

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