Massage is an established form of alternative medicine, said to reduce pain from numerous conditions and potentially improve mental health. Usually applied to high tension areas, massage can also be specially utilized around the face and neck. Facial massage is said to have benefits such as slimming the face, brightening complexion, detoxifying the area, and relieving pain. You may have heard of individuals using a soup spoon as a tool for facial massage or seen beauty gurus acclaiming the benefits of facial massage. Certain benefits, such as pain relief, sound reasonable, but other claimed benefits such as detoxification seem more farfetched. How legitimate are the benefits of this alternative practice?
As with standard massage, pain relief from facial massage is a verified benefit. Specifically, facial massages can be beneficial in the treatment of temporomandibular disorders, which involve pain in the jaw. Facial massage can also be used to treat Bell’s Palsy, a condition thought to be caused by the herpes virus that involves temporary paralysis of facial muscles. Massage specialists also use facial massage for generalized jaw and neck tension, which works as a normal massage would by massaging the muscles.
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The detoxification aspect of facial massage is meant to come from stimulation of the lymph nodes in the face and neck. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system and involves a network of lymph vessels that carry fluid and white blood cells throughout the body. Because of its role in fluid transport, blockage within the lymphatic system can lead to swelling, called lymphedema. The rationale behind massaging lymph nodes is that massage will stimulate lymph flow and drain fluid. However, while some benefits of lymph massage have been suggested in studies, ultimately the mechanism behind lymph massage and its benefits remain unproven.
In terms of strictly aesthetic benefits, practitioners of facial massage claim to experience face slimming and relative rejuvenation of the skin. However, these benefits remain largely unstudied. Additionally, it is worth noting that facial massage needs to be done on a regular basis to continue seeing results.
All in all, though facial massage as an alternative treatment seems to have some benefits in terms of pain relief and appearance, the medicinal efficacy behind the practice remains largely unproven. Taking part in the practice itself doesn’t seem to do any harm; however, facial massage shouldn’t be performed for too long because of the risk of experiencing superficial damage, such as bruising. Moreover, in terms of medical benefits, it may be wise to maintain some skepticism. And, as in all cases, use of facial massage as treatment for any legitimate medical conditions should be discussed with a physician first.
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