Facial exercises for facial rejuvenation, do they work?

Facial exercises for facial rejuvenation, do they work?
Facial exercises for facial rejuvenation, do they work?

By John Van Borsel, PhD of Ghent, Belgium

Physical beauty plays an important role in present day society. Physical beauty is limited to the age, however, and with advancing age good looks diminish. Signs of aging are particularly noticeable in the face.

The aesthetic correction of facial aging has long been the exclusive domain of plastic surgeons and dermatologists who perform procedures such as chemical peeling, injection of botulinum toxin and dermal fillers, laser treatment, facelifts, brow lifts, and eyelid surgery.
In recent years a less invasive and less expensive alternative to the medical approaches to facial rejuvenation has been promoted: facial exercises. One finds numerous books, DVD’s and websites with exercises that involve strength, movement or manipulation of the facial muscles. But do these exercises really work?

The effectiveness of facial exercises has always been a topic of debate. While some claim that facial exercises are an effective way to reduce wrinkles and sagging skin, others point out that the overuse of facial muscles is often the cause of wrinkles and that facial exercises thus may have the opposite effect from what was intended.

Very little research has been conducted on the effectiveness of exercises for facial rejuvenation. Recently, we performed a systematic review of the medical literature and could identify only nine studies that examined the effects of facial muscle exercises on facial rejuvenation, which is published in a new article, “The Effectiveness of Facial Exercises for Facial Rejuvenation,” which appears in the January issue of the _Aesthetic Surgery Journal_ Each of these nine studies reported a positive outcome. However, the quality of the available evidence appeared to be insufficient to determine whether facial exercises are effective for facial rejuvenation. None of the studies used a control group and in most studies no objective assessment took place. It was the authors and/or the patients themselves who concluded that there was an improvement.

Before we can draw any conclusions about the usefulness of facial exercises, we need better studies. We need studies with larger groups of participants and studies that compare treated with untreated patients and use objective measurements. Studies are also needed that compare various types of exercises, and we need to investigate if it makes a difference how long and how intense one exercises. It is also possible that facial exercises only work up to a certain age or when the signs of aging are still mild.

So, facial exercises for facial rejuvenation, do they work? The only answer that the research literature allows so far is “maybe, but also maybe not, or maybe not always.”