Aging skin is inevitable. But with modern technology, how we age is up to us. It seems that every day there’s an article or news story about some new, latest and greatest way to look younger. But how do you figure out what really works and what’s just spin? And even if it works in theory, is it realistic in practice? For this new installation of #mythbustermondays, I address new research on facial exercises and post-’tox’ expectations when you go to an expert injector.
“Facial exercises can’t improve the appearance of aging skin.”
I was guilty of thinking facial exercises were always a sham. But Murad Alam MD and his colleagues at Northwestern completed a pilot study published in JAMA Dermatology to see if facial yoga actually helped reduce facial aging and the appearance of aging skin. Surprisingly, the answer was yes. Here were the study details: 27 women age 40-65yo did 30 minutes of facial exercises daily for 8 weeks then every other day for another 12 weeks. In preparation, each woman had two 90 minute face-to-face training sessions to learn the 32 facial movements. The results? 16 of the 27 women finished the study. Based on standardized photography and measurement scales, upper and lower cheek fullness improved, and the estimated average patient age reduced from 50.8 to 48.1 yo at 20 weeks. Overall, patients were highly satisfied. What this means: Facial exercises can improve facial appearance and the look of aging skin by building up muscles that hold the skin up better. The caveats: This was a small pilot study. Larger studies with a broader range of patients (age, race, gender) are necessary. It is important to note that the study participants were trained in person to do each of the 32 very specific exercises correctly. Completing the exercises took 30 minutes at a time, which is unrealistic for busy people who might then have to choose between using their 30 minutes for this or to go to the gym. I wonder how easy these exercises are to learn, if doing them incorrectly would just be ineffective or if it could actually increase wrinkles, and whether a benefit would be seen with shorter sessions. Finally, I am curious how the use of these exercises can be balanced with the use of neuromodulators (Botox Cosmetic, Xeomin and Dysport) which definitively slow the development of wrinkles by reducing muscle movement in areas like the brows, forehead, crow’s feet and neck.
“A ‘tox’ed’ face is frozen and expressionless.”
‘Tox’ (i.e. Botox, Xeomin and Dysport) injected in so-called ‘actress doses’ (a term coined I believe by my Derm diva sister @dravasays) can subtly reduce wrinkles, improve brow position, smooth the jawline, and minimize the appearance of aging skin, all while maintaining movement…as long as skin quality and facial volume is maintained. That’s why combination therapy is so important to achieving a natural appearance. Filler injections and skin resurfacing (such as with Fraxel Dual), strong anti-aging skin care and good sun protection all play important roles in this process. And of course, in the USA, it’s most important to see a physician trained in a core cosmetic specialty – this is art – not paint-by-numbers.
This mythbuster is one of many #mythbustermondays that keep you educated when myths surface and veer you off track. For more great tips, please don’t miss out on Dr. Heidi dispelling these common cosmetic treatment myths about lasers and needle-phobia.