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Facial Exercises: 5 Things to Know

Facial exercising for a more youthful appearance seems to be coming back into vogue. The idea of facial exercising for a more youthful appearance is certainly not new, but what do we really know about the truth behind exercising the face.

1. Does it work? Well, it depends what the goals are. Facial toning and exercise have long been part of the physical therapy realm, helping stroke patients and others to recover and retrain the facial muscles to improve tone, function, and regain ability. Research clearly proves that proper facial exercise does indeed keep the muscles toned and supple, preventing atrophy which is key to a "plumped" voluminous face.

2. Will it give me an improved appearance? Although promoted by many, there aren't many well conducted scientific studies measuring objective "youthfulness". However, a recent study done at Northwestern University revealed results that showed a significant improvement in the "age appearance" of test subjects who did facial exercises. The study used widely accepted medical assessment models and techniques.

3. How much do I have to exercise? Now that's the crucial question! In the above mentioned study, participants did facial exercises for 30 minutes a day for the first 8 weeks, and then 30 minutes every other day after that. After 20 weeks, the results were more dramatic, revealing a roughly 3 year decrease in "age appearance" as judged by Dermatologists.

4. Are there any drawbacks to facial exercise? As far cosmetics go, one should be aware that repeated facial movements also contributes to the formation and deepening of wrinkles. Facial exercises may contribute to the overall improvement in volume, which is a large contributor to a youthful appearance, but, unfortunately, it may worsen fine lines and wrinkles as well.

5. How does this interplay with cosmetic procedures? Regular users of Botox will not be able to do the required exercises simply because the muscles are paralyzed. An aside, one of the things we are concerned about with long term Botox use is the atrophy of those injected muscles. This means the muscles lose volume over time and which may work against a more youthful appearance. Fillers are an effective way of temporarily increasing volume in the face (but fillers can not typically be injected just anywhere). There are also other ways to enhance volume (threading, stem cell, fat transfer, etc) which we'll get into in other articles. Facial tightening (one of my patients' favorite procedures) is also a very effective (and a semi-permanent) way to tighten, lift, and decrease lines and wrinkles in the face but won't do anything for volume.

If you want to learn more about the study done at Northwestern University and the exercise regime they used, click here. Of course nothing beats taking care of yourself from the inside out. If you've had experience in facial exercise, let us know what you think!

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