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FREE Facial Exercise Guide

There are a lot of articles in the news about facial exercises and their ability to reverse the signs of aging.  We do not feel that they can produce significant results. However, it does not involve surgery or downtime and takes only 5-10 minutes per day.  Some of our patients who tried them feel that they produce visible results, others do not see a great deal of difference. 

We have reviewed several protocols and combined a variety of exercises that appear to be the most effective in producing the desired improvement.  Feel free to print and try them.  The only thing we ask is to give us a feedback in a month or two.

Why Our Faces Sag

Why do our once-firm, once-toned skin and muscles tend to lose their elasticity and so south?  Why do we start to notice our fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin?

The simple answer is gravity.  Weight fluctuation, poor skin elasticity and smoking make it even worse. 
When we notice them, the natural response is to look for a magic bullet.  For some, it is a trip to the plastic surgeon. The others would rather start with something more conservative, like facial exercises.

Work out for the face

Some authorities in the facial exercise community claim that their programs can help reverse all the effects of gravity, helping to lift and tone the muscles and skin of the face without surgery. Sounds great, but are their claims real?
In theory, what SHOULD happen: After following a regimen of facial exercises for a prescribed amount of time (varies by program), the subject will find that the muscles and skin of the face have been tightened, toned and lifted, making the skin tauter, and helping to erase lines and wrinkles.

Facial exercises run the gamut from simply making “funny faces” to hooking up to a facial muscle stimulator machine. Some newer methods require the use of the hands to help provide resistance for more focused training of the muscles of the face.

What do the doctors think about it?
Some dermatologists and plastic surgeons say that if these exercises actually worked, everyone would know about them by now. Cosmetic surgeons for years have disputed the claims that facial exercises can yield any true improvement in the sagging of facial skin. According to some of them the muscles of facial expression are virtually in constant use whenever a person is awake from the time they are born. If this is true, it is hard to imagine how a few additional exercises would provide any benefit.

As the plastic surgeon I know that the results of surgery are instantly palpable. A good facelift may “turn back the clock” by a certain number of years varying with each individual, rather than giving them a completely new look. The lift does not last for a certain number of years and then suddenly “fall down”.  Rather, the clock “resumes ticking as soon as the lift is accomplished” and features of aging will gradually reappear as the time goes on.  However, the person will never look as old as they would have if nothing was done.
Also, people who lose large amounts of weight often are in need of surgery to remove the excess skin. No amount of exercise will tighten all of that extra skin.

What do Facial exercise gurus say?
Facial exercise experts say that the traditional medical doctors just have not looked into this practice as carefully as they should have. They state that with facial exercises many can avoid a surgical facelift by following a targeted program of facial training. The most noticeable results should be apparent between six months and one year.

What is the point?
Despite the fact that the true medical support for the effectiveness of exercises is lacking, many patients do believe that they have reached a significant improvement.

What should you do? 
Look in the mirror first.  Think about what you would like to accomplish.  If you are young and the face is sagging, you may achieve a very good result with a variety of techniques from non-surgical injections to endoscopic or newer “no scar techniques”, like V-lift or cheek lift. 

Approval of new longer acting filler materials by FDA provide immediate excellent and what is important lasting result without or very minimal down time.

The new surgical procedures are done inside of the mouth and without the scars around the ears.  I encourage you to visit our center and discuss your concerns.  You may be surprised with what is available today.

People sometimes complain that it is difficult to do these facial exercises, but after trying them a couple of times, you will be able to do them with ease.

If you are not ready for that or do not know what you want, I encourage you to try the facial exercise system.  I feel that the side effects are minimal and the patient satisfaction rate is substantial.  I also encourage you to inform us on how satisfied with the results you are.

Regardless of what you decide to do, these are the things that are proven to help keeping you younger and more radiant looking
• Protect your skin from sun damage. UV light is responsible for skin aging. Wear make-up that contains a sunscreen SPF 30, or use a similar sun-protective moisturizer every day, even during winter. When it comes to make-up, remember less is more effective the older you get. Heavy make-up tends to accentuate lines and wrinkles
• The delicate skin around the eyes is susceptible to premature wrinkling from exposure to the sun. Use high quality protective sun glasses with UV light protection when out in direct sunlight.
• Stop smoking - it depletes your skin of vital nutrients and creates toxins in the body that hasten the aging process. The toxins in cigarettes also decrease the elasticity of your skin, making it more susceptible to gravity.  It means more wrinkles.
• Eat a healthy diet. Vitamins A, C and E help fight free-radicals, which form in the skin after exposure to sunlight.
• Be gentle with your skin - never drag it when you wash or cleanse.  Do not use harsh soaps, use gentle facial clensers.
• Take care of your teeth - they affect the shape of your face.
• Diet carefully. Crash dieting encourages sagging skin.
Please note that if you have had facial surgery, including cosmetic one, or if you have neurological problems that involve muscle or nerve disease, you need to discuss this exercises with your doctor.

FOREHEAD
The occipitofrontalis or forehead muscle is a thin sheet of muscle located across the forehead. This muscle raises our eyebrows and also supports the muscles around the eyes. The balance of forehead muscle and the muscles around the eye helps to create an elegant arch of the eyebrows.

As early as mid-twenties, forehead lines start to become deeper. This is caused partly by the excessive movement of the forehead muscle and partly by the skin becoming less elastic. A non-surgical approach is to “freeze” these muscles with Botox and to use facial creams to build up the elasticity of the skin.  Contrary the popular belief this approach does not “age” the muscle more.  If properly performed, it can actually raise your eyebrows (a.k.a. non-surgical brow lift), opening your eyes and making you look more radiant. 

If you are older or if you smoke, the wrinkles may become even deeper and you will not get a complete correction with Botox alone.  There are a variety of new long acting FDA approved filling materials that can help to build up weakened skin.  Some of them last as long as 3-5 years.

Forget about big surgeries and big scars.  If the gravity has taken it toll and your brows have dropped, making your eyes look heavy and tired, a mini-lift may result in truly dramatic improvement of the way your brows and eyes look in less then 2 hours commonly without general anesthesia.

If you are not ready for Botox or mini brow lift, try this technique to tone the forehead muscle without wrinkling the skin.

Place fingers of both hands flat against the forehead, index finger in the hairline, little finger against the brows.
Press firmly against the bone, gently pulling the skin upwards and out.
Now slowly move your brows down, relax them and close your eyes without frowning.
Hold for a count of five, relax and repeat five times.
Do this twice a day.

Place fingers of both hands flat against the forehead, index finger in the hairline, little finger against the brows.
Press firmly against the bone, gently pulling the skin upwards and out.  Do not push the brows down.
With your forehead fixed, try to lift the brows as high as possible against your own fingers.
Hold for a count of five, relax and repeat five times.
Do this twice a day.

If you are having a hard time focusing on your forehead muscles, try this simple approach.  Place 3 pieces of Scotch tape on your forehead. 
Place the first one vertically in the middle of your forehead starting from the base of your nose between your brows to the hairline.
Place the second and third ones vertically on your forehead starting from the middle your brow to the hairline.

When you use those muscles, you will be able to feel the tapes and focus on those movements better.  Obviously, it is better to do that at home.  Peeling the tapes off your face in the car, train or at work may attract some negative attention and not be safe.

EYES

The eyes are surrounded by a layer of muscle, the orbicularis occuli that contracts to close and protect them.

As these eye muscles weaken and sag, they allow the skin around the eyes to droop, so the eyes appear baggy or slit-like. This muscle is also responsible for creating those laugh lines, or wrinkles in the corners of your eyes.

This is caused partly by the excessive movement of the eye muscle and partly by the skin becoming less elastic. A non-surgical approach is to “freeze” these muscles with Botox and to use facial creams or peels to build up the elasticity of the skin.  Contrary the popular belief, this approach does not “age” the muscle more.  If properly performed, it can actually relax your laugh lines and raise your eyebrows (a.k.a. non-surgical brow lift) stretching the skin.  This minor but effective change opens your eyes and makes them you look younger. 

If you are a little older, or if you smoke, the wrinkles may be deeper and you will not get a complete correction with Botox alone.  There is a variety of new long acting FDA approved filling materials that can help to build up weakened skin.

Again, forget about big surgeries and big scars.  If the gravity has taken it toll and your brows have dropped, making your eyes look heavy and tired, a mini brow lift may result in truly dramatic improvement of the way BOTH your brows and eyes look by raising your brows where they used to be, stretching the skin over your laugh lines and giving your eyes more attractive look.

Another common concern is the bags under the eyes.  Our eyes are sitting on the small pad of fat.  This pad protects the eye during movements.  This pad is located under the eye and inside of the orbit.  It is triangular in shape.  Two sides of it are supported by the bone of the orbit.  The third side is facing upfront and is supported by a very thin fibrous tissue (septum).  In time this flexible support weakens for a variety of reasons and fatty pad sticks out, stretching the lower eyelid skin. 

Can you see those bags under your eyes?  Are you frustrated with the creams and eye firming lotions?  Learn about our new no-scar lower lid bag removing procedure (aka trans-conjunctival lower lid blepharoplasty). No incisions on the outside.  Extra fat is gently removed through tiny incisions inside the lid.  Remember, it is effective only if the outside skin did not stretch too much.  Once it is stretched, this approach cannot help.

Not ready for Botox or mini-lifts?  Use this exercise to give emphasis to the lids and stimulate the tiny muscles that open the lids wide so your eyes will look bigger and more defined.

The most common goal of facial exercise is to prevent or reduce bags under the eyes and the untidy wrinkling at the laugh lines (a.k.a. crows feet).  

Laugh lines or crows feet develop because of excessive muscle movements and loss of skin elasticity.  Bags develop because of weakening of the fatty pad support and loss of elasticity.  No exercise will be able to restore the tiny fibrous support.  The goal is to increase the tone of the eye muscle, so that it provides additional support to the protruding fat pad.  

Exercising the face is about selective exercise.  You should relax certain muscles and exercise others.  The exercises described below, will allow the eye muscles to be toned in isolation. This will help to strengthen the weaker muscles that allow bags to appear while relaxing the muscles that cause crows feet.

If you are having a hard time focusing on your eye muscles, try this simple approach.  Place 2 pieces of Scotch tape on your laugh line area. 

Place them vertically on the side below your eyebrow starting from the outer portion of your brow down to the outer portion of cheek bone.

When you use those muscles, you will be able to feel the tapes and focus on those movements better. 

Place your index fingers under the brow bones.
Press gently and upwards, to provide resistance as you slowly close your lids tight.
Hold for five seconds, relax and repeat five times.

Lie on a bed, on your back, with your head hanging over the edge. Lift your
Eyebrows ONCE and RELAX. 
Place fingers of both hands flat against the forehead, index finger in the hairline, little finger against the brows.
Press firmly against the bone, gently pulling the skin upwards and out.  Do not push the brows down.
With your forehead fixed, open your eyes very wide.
Hold for a count of five, relax and repeat five times.

Sit upright, relaxed and your eyes closed.
While keeping your eyes closed look down hold for a count of five, relax and look up as far as possible, hold for a count of five and relax. Repeat 5 times

Place three fingers of your left hand at the outer corner of the left eye (crow feet area), then place your right index finger under the brow on inner eye corner,
Place your right middle finger below your eye. Your fingers are forming a horizontal V.
Use your fingers to provide resistance as you slowly try to close the eye, using lower lid and muscle only - not the upper lid.
Try not to squint or frown; just keep the rest of the face relaxed apart from the lower eye muscle.
Hold tension for five seconds then relax.
Repeat five times, and do the same with other eye.

Do these exercises twice a day.

NECK

Sagging of the neck also happens due to gravity effect.  There are a lot of different structures supporting the neck.  Because of that sagging of the neck (a.k.a.Turkey-neck) occurs for several reasons:
Loss of tone and aging in the platysma muscle.  Platysma is a thin sheet of muscle that covers the throat.  It starts at the collar bones and continues to the edge of the jaw.  This muscle keeps the skin tightly drawn into the neck and jaw. As this neck muscle weakens and sags, it allows the skin to droop, so the neck becomes baggy. In time the central portions of the muscle may show forming neck cords.
Excessive fatty tissue above or below the platysma muscle.
The skin loses elasticity and sags below the flaccid throat muscles.

All the above occur with aging, but turkey neck can begin relatively early in life. 

A non-surgical approach is to partially “freeze” these muscles with Botox and to use creams to build up the elasticity of the skin.  If properly performed, it can actually relax your neck lines and make them less noticable.  This makes your neck look better, but will not result in truly dramatic improvement. 

If the gravity has taken it toll and your neck sagged, making you look older and heavier, a neck lift, 50 minute lift, or limited face lift (a.k.a. S-lift), weak-end lift or liposuction may produce in truly dramatic improvement in under 2 hours.

The following preventative exercises may help to offset your potential risk of turkey-neck by toning the platysma and depressor muscles.

Please remember that your neck and lower jaw should not be moving.

If you put your finger under and behind your chin, you should feel muscles tightening and relaxing. Also, if you slide you finger along the jaw bone, you should feel muscle contractions in the middle area.

Some of these muscles are not used much in daily life. The initial muscle movements may not be perceived right away. Be patient, they will grow stronger over time.

If you cannot feel any muscles moving, try smiling without using your upper cheek muscles. Pretend you are trying to reach something and the only thing you can move is your chin. This facial expression is commonly used when reacting to something unpleasant.

First, start with general strengthening and stretching exercises.
Sit or stand upright and slowly drop your head forward without forcing it.
The weight of your head will gently stretch the muscles in your neck.
Hold this position for a count of five and return your head to normal position.
Repeat five times.
Sit or stand upright and gently turn your head to the left,
without dropping or lifting your chin.
Turn your head until you feel a stretching sensation.
Hold in this position for five counts and
then gently move your head to the right hand side and keep for a count of five.
Repeat five times.
Sit upright with your head tilted to the ceiling.
Pucker your lips in a kiss and stretch it as if to kiss the ceiling.
Keep this position for five seconds, then relax your lips,
bring back your head to normal position.
Repeat five times.
Lie on your bed with your head hanging over the edge.
Slowly bring your chin towards your torso and keep it in that position for a count of five. Repeat five times.
Now try more focused exercises
Turn your head to one side, open your mouth, and scoop the lower lip over the upper lip.
Hold for five seconds, relax, and then repeat five times each side.
Turn your head to one side, open your mouth, and scoop the lower lip over the upper lip
but this time tilt the head back slightly and at the same time curl the tip of your tongue, pressing it against the roof of your mouth.
Hold for five seconds, relax, and then repeat five times.
Turn your head to one side, open your mouth, and scoop the lower lip over the upper lip but don't push your tongue against the roof of your mouth.
Instead smile while scooping your lower lip over top teeth.
Hold for five seconds, relax, and then repeat five times.
Sit upright with lips together,
separate your teeth by dropping your jaw a little and then push your jaw forward,
keep for a count of five, bring back to starting position and repeat 5 times.
 Do this exercise twice a day

Jowls are one of the most problematic and visible signs of facial aging.  They occur because the flesh covering the sides of the jaw becomes unsupported and affected by gravity.  Some authors believe that by exercising the underlying depressor labii muscles of the lips (the muscles that draw the lips downwards) the effect of gravity may be improved.

Try this very easy technique to help tone the depressor lip muscles

Place 3 fingers of both hands flat against the lower lip, index finger on the outside, ring finger in the middle.  Keep the pinky finger away.
Press gently against the bone.
Pretend you are reacting to something unpleasant and bring the corners of your mouth down.
Hold for a count of five, relax and repeat five times.
Do this twice a day.

LIPS

The muscle that surrounds the lips is called the orbicularis oris. This muscle is similar to that surrounding the eyes. It allows us to close the lips together and also push lips outwards as when pursing the lips to kiss.

As early as late-thirties, lip lines may start to becoming deeper. This is caused partly by the loss of the lip muscle volume and partly by the skin becoming less elastic. A non-surgical approach is to increase the lip volume, “freeze” small portions of this muscle with Botox (requires extreme precision and a lot of experience) and to use facial creams or dermabrasion (or laser) to build up the elasticity of the skin.  If properly performed, these minor procedures can actually make your lips look fuller, younger, and more “pouty” without being artificial or fake looking.  

If you are in you’re a bit older or if you smoke, your lip corners may drop down, creating sad appearance. The deeper lines going down from the lower lip corners to the bottom of your face are called marionette lines.  In this area you will not get a correction with Botox.  There is a variety of new long acting FDA approved filling materials that can help to build up weakened skin.

If the gravity has taken its toll and your corners of the mouth have dropped, making your mouth look heavy and sad you may not need expensive surgeries and big scars.   A mini lip lift may result in a very nice improvement of the way your mouth looks. It takes about 45 minutes and requires only local anesthesia.

If you are not ready for fillers or mini lip lift, try this technique to tone the lip muscle and increase its volume. Good tone in this muscle may help to prevent the typical early downward turning in younger people and thinning of the lips that tends to happen as we age.

Use this quick and simple exercise to tone the lips.
Place the tip of one finger between your lips.
Press your lips together but don't pout; keep the top lip smooth.
Now remove your finger, but push down with your top lip as if it were still there.
Hold this tension for five seconds, then relax. Repeat five times.

Sit uprights and purse your lips together.
Lift your pursed lips towards your nose
keep it there for five counts, relax and repeat 5 times.
Pucker your lips slightly and then try with your mouth muscles to bring the corners of your mouth together as close as possible.
Keep lips in this position for five counts, relax and repeat 5 times.
Sit relaxed with lips hardly opened and curl your lips outwards.
While your lips are in the outward position, move your curled top lip towards your nose. Hold in this position for five counts and repeat 5 times.
Move your lips into a puckered kiss and while relaxing the kiss,
keep your lips closed and curl your lips into your mouth across your teeth.
Hold this position for a count of five and repeat the exercise 5 times.
Do this twice a day.

CHEEKS

The beauty, youthful appearance and shape of the face is determined by the shape of the face. 

The wider and higher the cheekbones are the more youthful the face usually looks. Accentuating the volume cheekbones gives the face that extra bit of appeal. If the cheekbones appear more prominent this also adds contour and shape to the cheeks, giving a more elegant tapered shape to the face. Making them too big on the other hand creates an unnatural look.

As early as late-twentis, the cheek may appear going south. This is caused partly by genetics and by the everlasting effect of gravity. Remember, the bone does not actually move.  The fatty pad covering the cheek bones slowly slides down.  The tale tale sign of ageing is when you start seeing the edge of the bone between the cheek and the lower lid.

A non-surgical approach is to increase the cheek volume.  In this area you will not get a correction with Botox.  There is a variety of new long acting FDA approved filling materials that can help to build up weakened skin.

If the gravity has taken its toll and your cheeks have dropped down, making your face look narrower, heavier and more tired but your skin quality is good, you may not need traditional facelift surgery.   A mini cheek lift, or V-lift may result in a lasting and natural improvement of the way your face looks. It takes under 2 hours. 

If you are older and have weaker or lax skin, the composite short scar facelift or S-lift are excellent in restoring the facial shape.

If you are not ready for fillers or mini cheek lift, try this technique to tone the cheek muscle.  The muscles that need to be toned in order to highlight the cheekbones are the zygomaticus major. These are one of two pairs of levator muscles of the lips. These particular levator muscles are the ones that draw up the outer corners of the lips.

These muscles run from the outer corners of the lips to the cheekbones. Regardless of how well these muscles are developed in your face, you can try these very exercises to tone the zygomaticus muscles to highlight your cheekbones.

Gently tighen your right cheek muscle, keep your right eye open. Hold on the count of five and slowly relax
Repeat on the other side.
Repeat five times.

Continue this side-to-side movement,
lightly apply 3 fingertips on top of each cheek under the eyes Position the fingers so that they move the most.
Alternating the sides perform five repetitions.

As you tighten / relax each cheek muscle your fingertips will control the movement and even can create additional resistance.

Continue the same but also wrinkle your nose and see your cheek muscles move upwards and feel these muscles work.
Keep this position for a count of 5 and then relax. Repeat 5 times.

Keeping the mouth firmly closed, force a smile using the lips only.
Keep the eye muscles as relaxed as possible
do not squint or narrow the eyes, keep them as wide open as possible.
Try to lift the cheeks outwards towards your temples - imagine you are trying to lift the corners of your lips to form a happy face.
Hold the smile for five seconds, then relax.

Now do the same again but this time try to prevent your lips from widening.
Keep your lips slightly pursed to help you do this.
Hold the smile for five seconds, then relax.
Continue the same but also wrinkle your nose and see your cheek muscles move upwards and feel these muscles work.
Keep this position for a count of 5 and then relax. Repeat 5 times.
Try a couple of extra exercises for your cheek muscles
Sit upright with lips closed but relaxed.
Pucker and pout your lips using your cheek muscles.
You may use your fingers to make sure that you are using your cheek muscles
Keep your lips puckered for a count of five and then relax.
Repeat five times.
With your lips closed, smile a relaxed smile,
then suck your cheeks toward and on to your teeth.
Hold this position for five counts and then relax.
Repeat five times.

 

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Dr. Volshteyn is a board certified Plastic Surgeon, who is specialized in reconstructive and plastic surgery.

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