Performing facial exercises may actually improve facial appearance of women, according to a Northwestern Medicine study, the first one devoted to observing whether "facial yoga" yields positive effects for how one looks.

A daily facial exercise regimen sustained over a period of 30 minutes for 20 weeks may result in subtle but visible changes to the faces of middle-aged women, making them appear younger to the eyes of trained dermatologists.

Can Facial Yoga Make You Look Younger?

The researchers conducted the study at the Northwestern University in Chicago, participated by 27 women aged between 40 and 65 years old. They had to learn 32 different facial exercises and performed each one for about a minute during the experiment.

The researchers called in experts and asked them to evaluate the faces of the women before and after the study — the average age went down from 50.8 to 48.1 years, meaning they appeared to be more youthful after completing the regimen.

"The exercises enlarge and strengthen the facial muscles, so the face becomes firmer and more toned and shaped like a younger face," said Murad Alam, professor of dermatology at the Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.

The study, published Jan 3. in the JAMA Dermatology, lists Gary Sikorski as one of its authors, a certified instructor who teaches various facial yoga programs at Happy Face Yoga. Alam noted that none of the researchers had financial interest in Sikorski's programs.

Facial Exercises: The Results

It wasn't just the experts who noticed that there were indeed positive changes to the women's appearance. In fact, the participants themselves saw it too.

"Patients themselves found even greater benefits, and noticed that 18 of the 20 areas and features of the face that were studied got better over the course of the study," Alam said, adding that generally, the aesthetic benefit was that their facial contour became smoother, fuller, and firmer.

That being said, the study isn't without its limitations. For one, with just 27 participants, the study was very small, especially considering the fact that out of those 27, 11 dropped out mid-experiment. To prove that there are noticeable changes to a woman's appearance because of facial exercise, the study must be replicated to include far more participants.

The study also didn't have a control group, according to the researchers. A control group, for the uninitiated, is a pool of participants in an experiment who don't receive treatment and are used as benchmarks to which the other participants are compared.

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