Having traits that do not perfectly mirror one another on both sides of a face is called asymmetry. This is normal, as almost everyone has some degree of asymmetry on their face. Natural asymmetry is unlikely to be a cause for concern.
In fact, some research indicates that natural asymmetry is both normal and desirable.
Some people may have more noticeable asymmetry than others. Factors such as aging, trauma, and lifestyle choices, such as smoking or sun exposure, may contribute towards asymmetry. If a person has always had asymmetrical features, there is no cause for concern.
However, new and noticeable facial asymmetry may be a sign of a serious underlying condition, such as stroke or Bell’s palsy.
Continue reading to learn more about some potential causes of an asymmetrical face, as well as treatments and home remedies.
Possible causes of facial asymmetry may include:
Sometimes an asymmetrical face is the result of an individual’s genetics. People with asymmetrical features may notice that other members of their family have similar characteristics.
Asymmetrical features due to genetics are usually not a cause for concern. Some genetic health conditions, such as cleft lip and palate, may cause facial asymmetry.
Imaging studies, such as one 2018 study involving almost 200 volunteers, suggest a link between increasing age and facial asymmetry. This is a natural part of aging.
While bones stop growing at puberty, cartilage does not. As a result, a person’s ears and nose will keep growing, leading to changes in the face. Soft tissues in the face will also begin to relax.
Some lifestyle choices can contribute towards an asymmetrical face. For example, smoking exposes a face to toxins and can cause vascular problems.
Excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays can also cause an asymmetrical face. Sun damage rarely occurs evenly across the face and may affect one side of the face more than the other.
A 2014 study involving 147 pairs of twins has suggested that factors such as sleep position and smoking are significant risk factors for facial asymmetry.
Other lifestyle factors that may contribute to asymmetry include:
- sleeping on the stomach or with the face against a pillow
- having poor posture
- resting a face against a person’s hand
Injuries to the face during childhood or in adulthood may cause the appearance of asymmetry.
Trauma such as a broken nose, a deep cut, or being involved in a vehicle collision can cause damage to the face.
Using dentures or getting dental veneers may change the contours of a face.
Having a tooth extraction may also change the way the muscles in a face appear. In fact, according to the previously mentioned 2014 study examining identical twins, tooth extractions are a significant risk factor for facial asymmetry.
Facial drooping may be a sign of a stroke, which is a medical emergency. Strokes can occur when there is reduced blood flow to the brain, and people can develop sudden facial asymmetry due to this.
Other symptoms of stroke may include:
- difficulty speaking
- sudden severe headache
- arm or leg numbness or weakness
If a person’s smile is suddenly uneven, or they experience numbness on one side of their face, they should seek immediate medical care.
Bell’s palsy is a paralysis of facial nerves, usually causing one side of the face to droop. The asymmetry is due to one side of a face being less able or unable to move.
The cause is currently unknown, but it may have links to trauma, nerve damage, or complications of a viral infection.
Also known as twisted neck, or wryneck, torticollis refers to abnormal positioning of neck muscles, causing the head to tilt.
Sometimes torticollis occurs while in the womb, resulting in some facial asymmetry when a baby is born. Some sources report that it affects 3 in every 100 babies.
Eye weaknesses may also cause a person to tilt their neck to see better, resulting in muscles growing stronger on one side of the neck. Many cases of torticollis are temporary, and the signs go away over time.
According to a 2015 study, facial asymmetry is common in the overall population. The same paper refers to previous studies that reported that 12–37% of orthodontic patients in the United States had an asymmetrical face.
When researchers assessed patients’ radiographic examination, they found that prevalence rose above 50%. This could suggest that asymmetry is more common than people think, and many people may not even realize that they have asymmetrical features.
An asymmetrical face does not usually require any treatment or medical intervention. This is especially true if the asymmetry is due to genetics or aging. In many cases, asymmetrical features may even be a defining feature or make a face unique.
However, if a person is concerned with their appearance due to an asymmetrical face, there are some cosmetic procedures they can consider.
Inserting fillers into a face by way of injection may help asymmetry caused by tissue imbalance or muscle weakness. However, their effects are not permanent and will eventually fade.
Botox is a popular nonsurgical option. People have Botox injections to raise eyebrows that may not be even or prevent wrinkles that only appear on one side of the face. Botox is a muscle relaxant comprised of toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Its effects typically last for 3–4 months.
If a person has an asymmetric face due to their skeletal structure, facial implants may be an option to consider.
Surgeons use implants to give the appearance of balance in a face. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, surgeons carry out this procedure to enhance the cheeks, chin, and jaw.
Facial implants are meant to be permanent and usually contain:
Also known as a nose reshaping, or “nose job,” a corrective rhinoplasty can give a nose a symmetrical appearance. Surgeons typically carry out this procedure to do one of the following:
- help a person breathe
- correct a broken nose that set incorrectly
- change the appearance of a person’s nose if they do not like the shape
The results of a rhinoplasty are usually permanent. However, a nose may begin to regain some of its previous shape over time.
An asymmetrical face is a common occurrence and often does not indicate any underlying health issues. However, for some people, asymmetrical features may lead to a lack of confidence or low self-esteem.
People with minor asymmetric features may be able to use home remedies to give their face a more symmetrical appearance. Some options include:
If someone is worried about uneven features, they could consider using makeup to achieve a balanced appearance. Makeup techniques, such as contouring and highlighting, can help reduce asymmetries. Makeup artists and online tutorials can provide guidance on this.
Certain hairstyling techniques can also draw attention away from a face.
Uneven eyelids are a common occurrence. Using eyelid tape or eyelid glue on a sagging eyelid can lift the skin and give the appearance of symmetry.
Can facial exercises help?
Some may claim that evidence online suggests that certain facial exercises may help a face look youthful and more symmetrical. However, there is no clinical research to prove this is the case.
The thinking behind these exercises is that they may help with facial asymmetry caused by muscle weakness or uneven muscle tone.
Having an asymmetrical face is both normal and common. Often it is the result of genetics, aging, or lifestyle habits.
While a person may notice their own facial asymmetry, other people will probably not be aware of them. In fact, research shows that it may even be a desirable feature and part of what makes a person unique.
In some cases, an underlying medical condition may cause facial asymmetry. Treating the condition may help to reduce the appearance of asymmetry.
If the asymmetry appeared suddenly or is causing discomfort or health problems, it may be a good idea to seek medical attention. Anyone concerned about their appearance can speak to their doctor if they wish.
However, for those that are self-conscious and unhappy with their appearance, they may choose to address asymmetry by using either cosmetic procedures or home remedies.