Is Superficial Temporal Artery LIgation Safe?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I am interested in having superficial temporal artery ligation done. I’m a 30 year old male who over the past year I’ve lost weight and workout very frequently, which I believe has caused the superficial temporal artery on one side of my forehead to become very prominent. I’ve been checked out by a vascular surgeon and there is nothing medically wrong that is causing this. I’ve subsequently consulted with two plastic surgeons who’ve both said they don’t recommend having this removed. It’s really become bothersome to me. In searching, I found that you have provided information about performing this procedure. Do you consider this procedure safe or what are the possible risks? I guess I’m wondering why other plastic surgeons seem so reluctant to do this. Is there a possibility I could travel to your location to have this procedure done? I greatly appreciate any help you can provide. I’d really to do something about this issue and am hoping you can help.

A: Superficial temporal artery (STA) ligation is a fairly simple procedure that is often done under local anesthesia. There are no significant risks in doing it other than the small scars needed to access the artery to tie it off. Generally there needs to be at least two points of ligation to prevent backflow and return of the visible pulsations. One of these small incisions is always in the hairline and the other one or two is determined by the course of the artery beyond the temporal hairline. STA ligation is done under local or IV sedation anesthesia. There is no real recovery from the procedure as no swelling or bruising usually occurs. As this is an uncommon aesthetic facial procedure and patient request, most plastic surgeons have most likely not performed it.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana