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Facial Flex ($29.94, QVC.com) is a facial exerciser device designed to help restore muscle tone in the face. One of QVC’s current best-sellers, the kit “makes the face appear noticeably tighter and smoother…[and] promotes circulation for a healthy-looking glow,” in just four minutes a day (i.e., two minutes, two times per day). Yet, what do scientific studies and reviews of Facial Flex say about the efficacy of the product?
May alleviate lip tightness after augmentation or surgery
According to a 2000 study in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, use of the Facial Flex helps to alleviate the tightness in the lips experienced after lip augmentation or reconstruction for large defects. The physicians who author the study mention advising Facial Flex usage to patients in these situations.
May improve muscle strength or contraction length
A 2002 study in the International Journal of Orofacial Myology “warrants some caution in drawing conclusions on changes in the oro-motor system” from using the device. Before and after an eight-week trial period, four subjects had their upper and lower lip muscle activity and movements recorded at two baseline sessions (separated by 1 week) and immediately following the eight-week trial period. Only one subject showed the expected significant increase in facial muscle activity. Regarding the other three subjects, one subject showed no systematic training effect at all, whereas the remaining two subjects showed a significant increase in facial movement duration.
May improve speech control
It has been suggested in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, amongst other sources, that facial exercises may improve facial and speech control after surgery, although the Facial Flex device was not used in this study.
One study shows anti-aging effects
One study, which is said to be published in the Journal of Geriatric Dermatology (I couldn’t find it) reports that eight weeks’ use of Facial Flex increases muscle strength by 250%, skin tone/firmness by 32.5% and blood flow by 10%. Unfortunately, without the actual study, it is impossible to evaluate the importance of these results, as we do not know the number of subjects, how long after the device was used these parameters were measured, etc. At any rate, the product has received 3 excellent reviews regarding anti-aging effects from users on Amazon.com.
Don’t believe everything you hear about facial exercises
There does not appear to be a lot of scientific research on the use of facial exercises for cosmetic purposes. As a result, a lot of opinions, both positive and negative, are currently circulating on the web. Cosmetics Cop Paula Begoun is opposed to facial exercises, saying that “muscle sagging is due to the loosening of facial ligaments that hold the muscles in place.” But muscles and ligaments do not work like that. First of all, ligaments are at joints, and it is tendons that hold the muscles in place. Further, although ligaments are elastic and can lengthen to support a wide range of movements, lengthening a ligament in the face would not cause a facial muscle to droop. In short, there are a lot of opinions and not a lot of research on the anti-aging effects of Facial Flex, so take caution and go by your own opinions if you decide to use it.
As a result…
Based on current research, Facial Flex appears to alleviate lip tightness, and may improve muscle contraction, muscle strength, and speech control. I have not personally used this device. However, if I did, I would be careful to watch that the muscles in my face were not getting overly developed from using the device, as muscular jaws, cheekbones, and stronger lower faces are generally associated with masculine faces, according to a 2004 study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of the Biological Sciences. At any rate, there little research out there has been lukewarm-to-positive, and 83% of reviews on QVC.com have been good, so I would say to use the Facial Flex with care. Feel free to comment if you have something to add!