Friday, 29 March 2013 14:35

Anatomy of the Body

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No matter how long ago it was, we all remember sitting through anatomy and physiology in aesthetics school. Literally memorizing the muscles, bones, arteries and veins in a desperate attempt to pass the test, and hopefully retain enough memorization to make it through the state boards. Now skin physiology was another thing – that just made sense – and knowing why we needed to know it made sense... But the other stuff just seemed a bit mind boggling! Well, if only we knew then what we know now, we just might have paid better attention! Every aspect of the aesthetics curriculum has come full circle, and what may not have seemed important 15 years ago is at the forefront of what we need to know now – and the anatomy of the face is one of them.

From Botox®, fillers and facial surgeries to microcurrent, radio frequencies, high frequencies and ultrasound; a complete and thorough understanding of the anatomy of the face and neck is absolutely critical. So let us have a review.
The muscles and bones of our face are not only the core foundation, but the structural format for our skin and facial features. Together they provide the skin of the face with an intricate framework for uniqueness and beauty.


The Facial Bones

anatomy-skullHuman beings are born with 300 bones, but adults have only 206 since several fuse together. There are eight cranial bones and 14 facial bones. The facial bones create the structural foundation for the face and the origination point for the facial muscles. Bones are composed of two-thirds mineral matter, one-third organic matter, and account for anywhere from 14 percent to 20 percent of body weight.
The facial skeleton consists of 14 stationary bones and a mobile lower jawbone (mandible). These 14 bones form the basic shape of the face, and are responsible for providing attachments for muscles that make the jaw move and control facial expressions. The 14 bones of the face include:

  • Mandible - the largest bone of the facial skeleton and forms the lower jaw (jawbone).
  • Maxillae - two bones that form the upper jaw.
  • Zygomatic - two bones that form the cheekbones (malar bones) and the bottom of the eye socket.
  • Lacrimal - the two smallest and most delicate bones of the facial skeleton that form the inner, bottom wall of the eye socket.
  • Nasal - two oblong shaped bones that join and form the bridge of the nose.
  • The remaining facial bones are not directly linked to aesthetic contact, yet remain critical in the overall formation of the facial skeleton.
  • Palatine - two bones that form the roof of the mouth.
  • Vomer – the bone that forms the lower part of the nasal septum.
  • Inferior Nasal Conchae - delicate spongy bones that help to divide the nasal cavity.

The skeletal structure of the face remains quite constant throughout life, aside of course from injury or surgery. Recent studies have indicated that the skeletal morphology does change with age with a slight increase or decrease of height and length of various skeletal facial structures. With the growth and readjustment of bones, studies have shown a noticeable shift of the forehead moving forward and the cheekbones moving back! This change in skeletal size can certainly contribute to the overall aging appearance of the entire face since it acts as the structural foundation.

The Muscles of the Face

muscles-of-the-faceThe muscles of the face are subcutaneous (just under the skin), striated muscles that voluntarily control facial expression. They are also referred to as mimetic muscles. These muscles originate on bone and insert on the skin of the face. Fortunately for the sake of learning, the names of facial muscles coincide with the related facial bones. They are broken into three main categories: muscles of the mouth, muscles of the eyes and nose, and muscles of the scalp.
The muscles of the mouth are the most abundant on the face and serve a wide variety of very specific functions.

  • Zygomaticus - the muscle that extends from the zygomatic bone to the corners of the mouth, forming the muscle of the cheek that draws all facial expressions upward.
  • Oris Orbicularis - a sphincter (circular) muscle made of multiple layers of fibers that circle the entire mouth. Its role is to contract and pucker the lips.
  • Buccinator - a thin, flat muscle located between the jaw and the cheek forming the wall of the cheek. Often referred to as the "blowing" muscle since it is used in blowing and whistling.
  • Quadratus Labii Superioris - a three part muscle that extends from the upper lip to the upper cheek (zygomaticus). Its role is to raise the nostrils and the upper lip.
  • Quadratus Labii Inferioris - muscles located on each side of the mouth, below the lower lip. Their role is to pull the lower lip down and/or outward.
  • Mentalis - pair of muscles located in the center tip of the chin. Their role is to push the lower lip up and wrinkle the chin as in displeasure.
  • Risorius - muscles located at the corner of the mouth that pulls the corners of the mouth up and out when laughing and grinning.
  • Caninus - muscles located above the corners of the mouth. They slightly raise the corners upward.
  • Triangularis - muscles located below the corners of the mouth that draw it downward. The muscles of the eye are of great importance to the aesthetician since the skin around the eyes is the first to show the signs of aging. It is very thin in close contact to the muscles below.
  • Orbicularis Oculi - a sphincter muscle that circles the entire eye socket and closes the eye lids.
  • Levator Palpebrae Superioris - the muscle located in the inner/upper orbit of the eye that lifts the eyelid.
  • Corrugator - a muscle located beneath the frontalis, between each orbicularis oculi. This muscle draws the eyebrows down and in, as in frowning.
  • Procerus - the muscle located at the bridge of the nose (also known as the glabella). This muscle aids in drawing the skin at the center of the forehead down, creating wrinkling across the bridge of the nose.
  • The muscles of the scalp are frequently referred to as the epicranius and are made up of the frontalis and occipitalis, which are joined together by a tendon called the aponeurosis.
  • Frontalis - this muscle extends from the front the lower forehead to the top of the skull. Its job is to raise the eyebrows and pull the scalp forward.
  • Occipitalis - this muscle is located at the back of the skull, the nape. It draws the scalp backwards.

A clear understanding of each of the facial muscles is critical to the skin care professional for a multitude of reasons. First, facial massage. Massage movements should always be directed from origin to insertion, understanding where the muscle is attached to the originating bone is the only way to ensure proper technique. Second, the wide array of technologically advanced aesthetic treatments that directly affect muscle tone and strength.
As an individual ages, many factors influence the integrity of the facial muscles and their direct connection to maturation changes across the face. Knowledge of each of the facial muscles allows an aesthetician to understand precisely which muscles are contributing to any changes. Interestingly enough, as we age muscles naturally become more lax, less toned, and more unresponsive to control.

side-lymphThe Lymphatic and Vascular System

An understanding and knowledge of both the lymphatic and vascular systems are necessary since they serve as the primary means of nourishment of the skin and detoxification. An entire article could be written on each of these systems and their intricate components!
The facial and carotid arteries are the major arteries that supply blood to the skin of the face, while the jugular vein is the primary vein that carries deoxygenated blood away from the head and face. Minute arteries and veins not only feed and nourish the entire body, but in particular to the aesthetician the muscles and the skin. They are closely intertwined throughout the subcutaneous and dermal layers of the skin. By supplying these areas with abundant blood flow, the vascular system ensures healthy, vibrant, optimally functioning skin and firm, well-toned muscles.
The lymphatic system is the major waste removal system of the skin. It drains the head and neck of excess intercellular fluid (or lymph) by means of delicate lymph vessels. Excess lymph fluid drains from the face, head and neck into the jugular ducts and empties waste fluid into both the right lymphatic duct and the thoracic duct. Lymph nodes are oval-shaped organs connected to lymphatic pathways and act as filtering stations to identify and trap foreign substances so that antibodies can destroy them. Once destroyed the viral or bacterial debris is flushed from the body via the lymph fluid.
Each of the above noted systems play a critical role in the health, function, condition and appearance of the skin; and aesthetic treatments have a direct effect on each of them.

Stimulating Facial Muscles

Facial massage has a direct impact on the anatomical structures of the face. Many massage techniques are used to relax facial muscles, relieving the face, head and neck from tension and stress-triggered pain; while other massage techniques can help to restore muscle function and tensile strength. Massage manipulations increase circulation, providing nourishment to the muscles, nerves and the skin; this increases in circulation not only increases blood flow for nourishment, but increase vascular and lymphatic flow to improve waste removal. An increase in vascular and lymphatic blood flow is beneficial in reducing built up toxins, puffiness, and swelling and will increase the healing process in the event of any type of trauma to the skin.
Microcurrent utilizes electrical currents to cause facial muscles to tighten and create a lifting and firming effect on the skin. Although relatively temporary, this method is quite effective. Ultrasound and Radio Frequency have been shown to visibly tighten and lift skin by stimulating collagen production in the dermis.


The list of treatments that affect muscle, circulation and the skin continues to grow every day. The important point to understand is that without a sound understanding of the systems in which these treatment modalities affect, it is not possible to properly perform them – or better yet, properly discuss their benefits and effects with your clients.
Our amazing profession is evolving faster than anyone can keep up with; but as the old saying goes, "Some things never change." And the anatomy of the face is one of them. When you know the facts, all of the rest comes easy.

The Aesthetic Science Institute (ASI) is owned and operated by Michelle D'Allaird, an internationally certified CIDESCO Diplomat. ASI's Aesthetics Certification Course is the first step toward an exciting career in the growing field of skin care. After becoming a New York State Licensed Aesthetician, many students choose to further develop their skills with Advanced Aesthetics course offerings. Over the years ASI and D'Allaird have received numerous awards and recognitions. The most recent in the last several years include: 2011 VIP of the Year in the Cambridge Who's Who, 2011/2012 Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, and 2011 The Best of SUCCESS Beauty School.


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1 comment

  • Comment Link mmellott32 Sunday, 28 April 2013 22:33 posted by mmellott32

    You mention that massage is done origin to insertion, but following the facial line is done insertion to origin ... right? I'm pretty certain.

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