Ageing causes facial muscles to deteriorate, making the face sag and change shape. According to a study published in JAMA Dermatology, facial exercises can improve the appearance of ageing skin by increasing muscle tissue. Longevita’s plastic surgeon cautions, however, that these exercises can also have the opposite effect.
Facial ageing occurs when collagen and elastin production decreases, fat is displaced and lost, and muscles shrink and lose tone. However, we know that exercises can help increase muscle mass. Increased muscle strength can also prevent drooping by keeping fat pockets in place. So, facial exercises have the potential to improve the signs of ageing on the face.
But, according to the plastic surgeon at Longevita, Prof Dr Fuat Yuksel, who has been in practice for more than 30 years, there are certain limitations to facial exercises. Moreover, he warns that they can also end up worsening the signs of ageing.
Facial Exercises Can Give You Expression Wrinkles
The muscles in the face are attached to the skin. When you make certain movements (through facial expressions), these muscles tug on the skin. Done repeatedly for a long period of time, you end up with what’s known as expression wrinkles or dynamic wrinkles. And according to Dr Fuat, “wrinkles can appear as a result of frequent movement of forehead and eyebrows.”
For instance, drinking from a straw frequently can cause wrinkles around your lips. Vertical wrinkles form between the nose and the upper lip due to the action of smoking (sucking on a cigarette). Similarly, squinting, laughing and frowning can give you the dreaded crow’s feet around the eyes. In the same way, repeated movements of the facial muscles through exercises can worsen these expression wrinkles.
Facial Exercises Have Limited Evidence Of Benefits
The research published in JAMA Dermatology had several limitations as the authors of the study themselves pointed out. The size of the sample was very small. Although initially, 27 women had enrolled in the study, 11 of them dropped out. Moreover, only middle-aged women (aged 40 to 65) were a part of the study. So, the results are not generalisable.
Prof Fuat notes another downside and that is the time-consuming nature of the facial exercise program in the study. It is very hard to commit to. “Modest” changes were seen in the faces of the participants after they performed a 30-minute daily exercise for 20 weeks. And even after that, it isn’t known how long the results of these exercises will last.
Facial Exercises Reduce Longevity Of Dermal Fillers
Dermal fillers are very popular for getting rid of signs of ageing. By puffing up the skin, they can smooth out wrinkles and fine lines. These fillers are temporary and usually last anywhere between 6 months to 2 years. However, facial exercises may reduce their longevity by metabolizing them more quickly. The plastic surgeon at Longevita warns that these exercises may shorten the lifespan of fillers and other cosmetic injectables on the face.
While there may be some benefits of facial exercises, so far there is limited evidence of their effectiveness. Aesthetic surgeons do not object to facial exercises, but they must be performed responsibly. Otherwise, they can end up doing more harm than good.