Facial muscles (overview)

The facial muscles (also known as the muscles of facial expression) are situated within the subcutaneous tissue of the face and responsible for the movements of skin folds, providing different facial expressions.

The facial muscles originate from bones of the facial skeleton (viscerocranium) and insert into the skin.

The facial muscles are mostly grouped around the natural orifices of the face (eyes, nose, mouth), taking part in the closing or widening of these orifices.

All muscles of facial expression are innervated by branches of the facial nerve (CN VII).


Facial muscles in the calvaria region:

  • Occipitofrontalis muscle
    • Frontalis muscle (frontal belly)
    • Occipital muscle (occipital belly)


Facial muscles around the orbital opening:

  • Corrugator supercilii
  • Orbicularis oculi


Muscles around the oral opening:

  • Buccinator
  • Depressor anguli oris
  • Depressor labii inferioris
  • Levator anguli oris
  • Levator labii superioris
  • Mentalis
  • Orbicularis oris
  • Risorius
  • Zygomaticus minor
  • Zygomaticus major


Muscles around the nose opening:

  • Compressor narium minor
  • Dilator naris anterior
  • Levator labii superioris alaeque nasi
  • Nasalis
  • Procerus
  • Depressor septi nasi


Note: There are also muscles found around the ear - the anterior, posterior and superior auricular muscles, which are generally considered insignificant in human anatomy, therefore, these facial muscles are not represented in this section.