From so-called “yoga” for your face to expensive microcurrent at-home facial “toning” devices, everyone wants to get in the game when it comes to finding non-surgical ways to turn back the hands of time. But the big question to those of us looking for a painless and easy way to rejuvenate is, of course, do face exercises work? The aesthetic medical community recently put a few good scientific minds to this very question and published their findings earlier this year in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal.
In the article “The Effectiveness of Facial Exercises for Facial Rejuvenation,” a group of Belgian researchers led by John Van Borsel, PhD, took an analytical approach to existing research on facial exercise for enhancement, reviewing 9 studies that took a closer look at how exercising the facial muscles may or may not rejuvenate the face. Interestingly, all studies were reported from South America, and “studies” were actually case reports or small series and used subjective evaluations only, according to the researchers.
Van Borsel et al. report that “Although positive outcomes were achieved in all 9 studies, none of the studies used a control group and randomization process.” In other words, these studies make claims without effectively following good scientific methods and, therefore, can not be trusted as necessarily accurate.
In a press release from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), Van Borsel told the society, “The existing published studies were not randomized or controlled. Most lacked blinding and only used subjective measures to assess the effectiveness of treatment. We need better studies before we can draw any conclusions about the usefulness of facial exercises.”
But there is at least some good news that comes out of all of this. The conclusion the Belgian researchers came to simply elucidates the fact that there is a need for more thorough and vigorous study of these popular, yet unproven, non-surgical techniques.
According to Foad Nahai, MD, Editor-in-Chief of the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, “Randomized, controlled studies are the gold standard for determining the efficacy of any procedure. Hopefully, we will see some well designed studies in the future that can help us determine whether these claims have merit.” That’s also according to the society’s press release.
We can expect that it’s only a matter of time until someone rises to the occasion and the aesthetic community gets some real answers. Until then, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reports in their annual plastic surgery statistics that surgical facelifts and non-surgical fillers—both used to create facial contours more characteristic of a youthful face—are up by 6% and 13%, respectively.
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