Updated: Sep 29, 2022
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What are facial toning devices?
Facial toning devices are products intended to stimulate specific facial muscle groups with the intention of hypertrophying or thickening the muscles. The overall outcome sought is to increase volume to indirectly improve the appearance of the overall facial structure.
What are the different types of facial toning devices?
There are mechanical devices and electrostimulation devices to achieve these outcomes.
Mechanical devices work like workout gear or exercise equipment for certain facial muscles. These may be used for the masseter muscle, a muscle at the angle of the jaw used for chewing.
Electrostimulation devices are products that use a slight current to stimulate muscles on contact. These are found on the market for the zygomatic or cheek muscle in particular as it is difficult to “exercise” this muscle in isolation without aggravating crow’s feet for example.
Why would someone use a jaw-toning device?
Jaw toning devices are focused on attempting to hypertrophy or thicken the masseter muscle to try to create a more defined jawline and potentially reduce the appearance of a “gobble neck”. This muscle is located at the angle of the jaw. When it is thickened it can give the appearance of a broader lower face and a more defined jaw line. For the neck, as the masseter muscle thickens, the overlying skin can be pulled very slightly over the muscle making it appear slightly less lax over the neck.
Aside from hypertrophy of the masseter muscle with the muscle mass stretching the overlying skin to some extent, there is no impact of the jaw toning devices on the skin itself.
Jaw toning devices do carry some risks. There is a risk of affecting dentition, TMJ issues, and even potentially headaches. Also, remember that many people seek botox injections in the masseter muscle to reduce the muscle mass given the fact that the overall facial shape can be affected by an enlarged muscle.
Chewing gum and grinding teeth have also been linked to a similar impact on masseter muscle mass.
Can you explain the reasons why less defined jawlines form?
Understanding how the jawline changes as we age can help guide aesthetic techniques by taking into account the multifactorial nature of this process.
As we age, our jaw bone, the mandible, starts to resorb anteriorly closer to the chin and inferiorly. The teeth can affect this further if lost or impacted by dental work. The space between the lower lip and the chin is decreased also creating a deeper mental crease.
At the same time, the fat pads in the cheeks can be loosened and slip towards the neck. This is further impacted by skin laxity worsened by cheekbone resorption from the mid-face. Some of the muscles along our chin are responsible for pulling the lower lip down for facial expressions. The bandlike muscle of the neck called the platysma aggravates this appearance by pulling down on the jawline.
Are there any other benefits that can be attributed to facial toning devices and facial exercises in general?
Facial exercise also referred to as facial yoga, has been a growing trend. These exercises are thought to assist in facial rejuvenation. Similar to yoga for other muscle groups, the goal is to strengthen underlying muscle groups to improve the appearance of the skin. Some limited studies have been performed that seem to support the use of facial yoga to strengthen facial muscles which may result in a more youthful appearance. Consider that aging of the lower face is made up of a combination of loss of volume and thinning of the skin. Strengthening the muscles of the face, can increase or hypertrophy the underlying muscle to add to the facial volume overall.
Facial yoga is predominantly effective for mid and lower-face rejuvenation. I would consider patients that are seeking volume along the cheeks, nasolabial folds, and jawline as having the potential to benefit.
For those that are most concerned about upper face/ forehead wrinkles, this practice may not produce the results you are seeking. The forehead wrinkles can be potentially accentuated or worsened by strengthening the muscles that underly them. The forehead is unique in that the muscles attach directly to the skin. This means if they are toned, the skin will appear thickened and wrinkles accentuated or deepened.
Focus on the mid-face first as strengthening and firming the mid-face can result in some improvement to the lower face incidentally. When focusing on the jawline or lower face exercises, the masseter muscle can sometimes hypertrophy or thicken changing the contour of the face slightly.