Fact Check: Can Facial Exercises Really Make You Look Younger?

It seems as if you can’t open a magazine or turn on a TV without seeing another “revolutionary way to look younger.” Although many people are more than willing to give them a try, most of these “discoveries” have little or no scientific basis, so they simply won’t produce the results you expect. But one technique which has been debated for a long time is “facial yoga” or the “workout facial”—exercising the facial muscles as a way to look younger. So does it really work? As a double board-certified plastic surgeon, I’ve taken a closer look at the claims behind facial exercises and the science surrounding them.

atlanta facelift surgeryThe Claims

As we age, we lose volume throughout the face. Youthful fat diminishes with other tissue succumbs to the aging process, and the result is a more gaunt and “hollowed” facial shape. The primary claim behind facial exercises is that by toning the facial muscles, we can lift and enlarge these muscles in order to replace some of the age-related volume loss. Another added bonus is the enhanced blood flow that comes from the exercise, making your skin appear more radiant and youthful.

The Science

Proponents of facial exercises are correct that we lose muscle tone with age, and that exercise helps to give the skin a brighter look. But all in all, facial exercises will not make you look younger (and will certainly not replace a facelift) for a number of reasons.

First, there are several different factors in facial aging. Volume loss is one of them, but much of the volume lost is fat, rather than muscle. The other major contributor to looking “older” is the weakening and sagging of the skin. For many patients, this is actually the issue they are most bothered by, and facial exercises are not able to firm or smooth the skin. The only way to do this is through non-surgical skin treatments like Band Aid Skin Tightening and Band Aid Laser Skin Resurfacing, or for a more precise and comprehensive result, a surgical facelift or Band Aid Mini Face Lift.

Second, in some cases, facial exercises might actually accelerate wrinkle formation. Facial wrinkles are generally caused by a combination of weakening skin and repeated facial expressions, so if you’re making repetitive and dramatic facial movements, you could be forming new wrinkles in these areas.

Third, while the claim that facial exercises enhance blood flow for a brighter complexion does hold some merit, this has been found to be the case with any exercise, from jogging to lifting weights. A consistent workout routine can give you that energized complexion while also offering the many health benefits of an active lifestyle and avoiding the wrinkle-causing risks of facial exercises.

It’s understandable that everyone wants to look younger with as little effort as possible, but in this case, sticking with tried and true facial rejuvenation options such as Botox®, laser treatments, and face lifts can actually save you a lot of time you would have spent on ineffective (or even counter-productive) facial exercises. To discuss how I can help you achieve the more youthful and well-rested yet natural appearance you’re looking for, schedule a consultation with me, Dr. John L. LeRoy. Or, for more plastic surgery tips and news, join me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.