A detailed three-dimensional finite element model of the face is presented in this paper. Bones, muscles, skin, fat, and superficial muscoloaponeurotic system were reconstructed from magnetic resonance images and modeled according to anatomical, plastic, and reconstructive surgery literature. The finite element mesh, composed of hexahedron elements, was generated through a semi-automatic procedure with an effective compromise between the detailed representation of anatomical parts and the limitation of the computational time. Nonlinear constitutive equations are implemented in the finite element model. The corresponding model parameters were selected according to previous work with mechanical measurements on soft facial tissue, or based on reasonable assumptions. Model assumptions concerning tissue geometry, interactions, mechanical properties, and the boundary conditions were validated through comparison with experiments. The calculated response of facial tissues to gravity loads, to the application of a pressure inside the oral cavity and to the application of an imposed displacement was shown to be in good agreement with the data from corresponding magnetic resonance images and holographic measurements. As a first application, gravimetric soft tissue descent was calculated from the long time action of gravity on the face in the erect position, with tissue aging leading to a loss of stiffness. Aging predictions are compared with the observations from an “aging database” with frontal photos of volunteers at different age ranges (i.e., 20–40 years and 50–70 years).

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