Background: Fusion zones between superficial fascia and deep fascia have been recognized by surgical anatomists since 1938. Anatomical dissection performed by the author suggested that additional superficial fascia fusion zones exist. Objectives: A study was performed to evaluate and define fusion zones between the superficial and the deep fascia. Methods: Dissection of fresh and minimally preserved cadavers was performed using the accepted technique for defining anatomic spaces: dye injection combined with cross-sectional anatomical dissection. Results: This study identified bilaminar membranes traveling from deep to superficial fascia at consistent locations in all specimens. These membranes exist as fusion zones between superficial and deep fascia, and are referred to as SMAS fusion zones. Conclusions: Nerves, blood vessels and lymphatics transition between the deep and superficial fascia of the face by traveling along and within these membranes, a construct that provides stability and minimizes shear. Bilaminar subfascial membranes continue into the subcutaneous tissues as unilaminar septa on their way to skin. This three-dimensional lattice of interlocking horizontal, vertical, and oblique membranes defines the anatomic boundaries of the fascial spaces as well as the deep and superficial fat compartments of the face. This information facilitates accurate volume augmentation; helps to avoid facial nerve injury; and provides the conceptual basis for understanding jowls as a manifestation of enlargement of the buccal space that occurs with age.
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