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  • drmmaguire

The Anatomy of a Wrinkle

Updated: Jul 26, 2022

It may seem a bit surprising that your chiropractor would treat conditions in the mouth and face, but when you look at the anatomy of a wrinkle it all makes sense. There are 42 individual muscles of the face and each are innervated and supplied with oxygenated blood like anywhere else in the body. A lot of what we see on the skin (wrinkles) can be treated by working on the muscles of the face. Let's take a deeper look (hehe).

The muscles of the face mainly attach to the bones of the skull (some attach directly to fascia) to the skin. These muscles contract and relax to move different aspects of the face. The two main categories of muscles are muscles of facial expression and muscles of mastication (chewing/moving the mouth). Often times when there is a complaint with the head (headaches) jaw (TMJ pain, clenching, grinding), or skin of the face (fine lines, wrinkles, 11’s, marionette lines etc) the muscles of the face have some degree of involvement. If you look at the arrangement of the muscles of the face you can see each of their lines of action. The muscles attach to the skin at 90 degree angles, and when they pull they can create lines or wrinkles in the skin. The intent behind Botox (Botulin toxin) is to paralyze the muscle so that they are not able to contract, and therefore will not create the “line” or wrinkle in the skin. This can be an effective way initially to eliminate lines. More recently it has been used to help reduce TMD (TMJ dysfunction), migraines, and jaw clenching. There is a catch though...

The problem with this is that when the muscle stops contracting even temporarily, the body will stop bringing oxygen rich blood to the area as the muscles are simply not using it. Overtime this will create a dull, grey tinge, to the skin. It can also cause stagnation and dryness. The other issue with the muscles not contracting is that they tend to atrophy based on the “use it or lose it” phenomenon. This is the same thing that happens when you stop exercising and I think we have all personally seen this in effect at least once or twice in our lives ;). The lesser known effect of muscle contraction, is that muscle contraction (when attached directly to the bone) tugs at the bone stimulating bone growth. Without that physical stimulation process we see some bone loss. The combination of muscle atrophy and bone loss creates a smaller frame with which the skin is sitting on top of and a sagging appearance of the skin. Typically the cosmetic response to this is is to add fillers to fill out the frame beneath the skin. As you can see this can be quite the slippery slope!

There is however some GOOD NEWS… and that is, botox is NOT the only answer! While it may be the quickest fix initially, it does not come without long term consequences. We can reduce the tension in the muscles with non invasive techniques. Some of our favourites are fascial release, massage, gua sha, acupuncture and meditation. Think of it as a workout/self-care regime for the face. With these techniques we can reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches and migraines, treat jaw pain, tension, clicking/popping, grinding and clenching, as well as reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles. All of which will actually boost the circulation of blood and lymph to help with detoxification, lymphatic drainage (puffiness), and even out the skin tone all while producing a beautiful, healthy, glowing skin! Please remember, we are just providing alternatives and knowledge. Everyone’s personally choices are theirs. We often work with men and women who would like the effects of more invasive techniques but do want to maintain muscles mass, boost circulation, and improve lymphatic drainage to minimize the side effects of these treatment and boost the vitality of the skin! Even those that do botox for TMJ issues can still get manual care and acupuncture to help minimize muscle imbalances and compensational dysfunctional movement patterns. Do not forget to tell your practitioner or medical technician what treatments and procedures you have done. They will be able to tell you contraindications or appropriate timing of mixing procedures and treatment. We recommend at least a 4-6 weeks after botox before doing facial acupuncture.


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