Q: I have read numerous blogs that talk about the value of facial exercises. With so many debates on this subject, I wonder if there is any benefit to doing facial exercises to tone up the face. Plastic surgery seems so drastic.
A: Much has been written over the past fifty years about using exercise to lift up a sagging aging face…or to prevent it from happening. This concept is not new. I have an original copy of a book entitled ‘Lifting Up Your Face’ from 1951. The more recent books that I have seen today in the book stores are beautifully done, and even have their own DVDs in the cover, but they are just modern re-inventions of this original concept.
It is certainly reasonable to do anything to avoid actual surgery, if it has some benefit. The problem that I have with facial exercising is three-fold. First, most of the signs of facial aging that are bothersome to people (appearance of jowls, loose skin in the neck, dropping brows, etc) are not muscular in origin. They did not occur because the muscles were loose and sagging. Anatomically, they are the result of the skin and the subcutaneous fat becoming loose and sliding off of the deeper tissues. That is not something that muscle tightening, even if it were possible with facial exercises, can really treat or prevent. Secondly, all facial wrinkles that develop are the result of muscle movement. That is why Botox is so popular, because it decreases this wrinkle-causing muscle movement. Moving those muscles a lot more through facial exercising will likely increase, not decrease the age signs of wrinkling. Lastly, I have yet to see adequate before and after photographs of believeable results from any facial exercising program. The photographs shown are never standardized. There are always some subtle changes in angle and lighting that can make a big difference in how the result looks. We know this very well in plastic surgery. It is very easy, intentional or not, to have an after result that appears to show a facial change that does not really exist.
For the sake of discussion, however, let’s us assume that there is some minor benefit to facial execising. In most patient cases, it is likely that the result would not be adequate…a lot of effort for a minor improvement. With todays’ minimally invasive and limited downtime facial procedures, they quickly surpass what exercising could do and require less effort. Plastic surgery does not have to be so drastic, one can get a few ‘tweakments’ that can make a real visible difference.
Dr. Barry Eppley