21 August 2023 onur
There’s a trend called “Face Yoga” that’s been gaining attention. I come across it on social media, and my patients ask about it too. Is it possible to rejuvenate an aging face, delay or prevent aging through a series of systematic stretching techniques and facial muscle exercises referred to as “Face Yoga”? Is this approach an alternative to medical or surgical treatments? Yoga offers benefits not only to the musculoskeletal system but also to the entire body and mind. I personally enjoy practicing it whenever I get the chance, and my spouse practices it daily. However, I won’t claim expertise on the benefits of yoga; there are professionals in this field.
Anything that makes your body healthier, reduces stress, enhances blood circulation, maintains body weight balance, breaks the cycle of weight gain and loss, and motivates healthier eating will also benefit your face. I can confidently say that patients who engage in disciplines such as yoga, pilates, and fitness on a regular basis, along with maintaining a healthy diet and an active lifestyle, tend to look better not only in terms of their body structures but also their facial structures compared to their peers.
In all physical disciplines, understanding the dynamics of the body and its “individual limits” is crucial. For instance, yoga can work wonders on your body, but if you search for yoga-related injuries and injuries on PubMed, you’ll find hundreds of scientific articles. Anything done without proper knowledge can potentially lead to harm.
Face Yoga is no exception to this. Regularly exercising certain facial muscles can be beneficial. Exercising others beyond a certain level can be harmful. Exercising some may not have any benefit and can even deform the face.
For example, the masseter muscle located in the jaw angle is important for facial aging. Having the right volume in this muscle imparts angularity to the face, supports the jawline, and sustains soft tissues due to supporting ligaments. You can work this muscle by chewing gum for 10-20 minutes a day. However, if you overwork it, it can square off the face and give a more masculine appearance.
The digastric muscles and mylohyoid muscles at the base of the mouth are important for neck aging. Keeping these muscles toned prevents the movement of the tongue root towards the neck and its settling there. You can strengthen these muscles through “mewing” exercises. Overworking them leads to “digastric hypertrophy,” causing contour irregularities in the neck.
The temporal muscle mass is important for the contour of the temples. You can work this muscle by chewing gum or doing biting exercises. However, excessive work can cause migraine-type headaches and erode the temporal fat pad just above it.
You shouldn’t unnecessarily exercise the superficial muscle groups around the eyes, mouth, and neck. These muscles have close connections with the skin. Hyperactivity leads to wrinkles on the surface of the skin. The reason we weaken hyperactive facial muscles with Botox is precisely this. It’s ironic that while we are trying to calm hyperactive facial muscles with Botox, another group is encouraging exercises to “activate” these muscles.
When deep facial muscles (e.g., smile muscles, mentalis, corrugator, nasal muscles, etc.) contract, they compress soft tissues. For instance, when you smile, the cheek mass compresses the suborbicularis oculi fat (SOOF) compartment under the eyes. This repeated compression effect melts fat layers. We call this the “concertina effect” in plastic surgery. While we strive to balance this effect with microfat tissue transfer from the 30s onwards, it’s ironic that another group is suggesting exercises that amplify this effect.
Using circular muscles at high intensity causes a displacement towards the center in peripheral soft tissues. For example, forcefully closing the eyes or tightly pursing the lips shifts tissues from the periphery to the center. This lowers the eyebrows and loosens the inner cheek.
Overworking the platysma muscle in the neck pulls the face downward, stretches the connections of the neck skin with deeper structures, and sags the neck skin.
As I mentioned, some muscles benefit from being exercised to a certain extent. However, unconscious exercises can negatively affect both the body and the face.
Furthermore, whether the shape, size, and function of a facial muscle can change with exercise is related to the bone structure around that muscle. If there is bone support on both sides of a muscle, you can strengthen it to support soft tissue. If there is weakness in the bone at the “origin” or “insertion” site of the muscle, strengthening this muscle can cause a soft tissue contour deformation where the bone is weak. Therefore, exercises that work facial muscles typically affect men and women with a male-type facial skeletal structure. Claiming that “Face Yoga” is responsible for my face looking young on the internet is akin to a prince attributing his wealth to not working hard.
In conclusion, routine yoga practice likely benefits the face in the long run. However, saying the same for facial exercises touted as “Face Yoga” is difficult. Spending the same time on the whole body might be a more beneficial alternative.
Stay with Love, Stay Beautiful. O.B.