The submuscular aponeurotic system (SMAS) has been steeped in controversy. The goal of our anatomic study was to further clarify the existence of the SMAS. With an operating microscope, we performed dissections in 10 fresh cadaver heads (20 hemiheads) exposing the SMAS through a face lift incision. Through the operating microscope we were able to identify the SMAS and its relationship to other anatomic structures. Full-thickness longitudinal sections were obtained for routine histologic studies along various surgically relevant regions of the SMAS. In addition, dissections were accomplished with the operating microscope on 12 rhesus monkey fetuses ranging in age from a few weeks to 8 months. Data obtained from the fresh cadaver microdissections, topographic histology, and comparative anatomy revealed the presence of the SMAS as a distinct fibromuscular layer composed of the platysma muscle, parotid fascia, and fibromuscular layer covering the cheek.
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