The Blog What is Spocking and How Can We Treat It?
Anti-wrinkle injections are a purified protein that relaxes your muscle and is the most popular cosmetic treatment in the world as it reduces wrinkles caused by repeated facial expression. At its best, these injections can make you look younger, fresher, smoother, and happier. When performed incorrectly by an inexperienced injector it can make you look different – and not in a good way.
Have you ever looked at someone’s face and thought one or both of their eyebrows resembled Dr Spock from Star Trek? Or does it look like they are always about to ask a question with a ‘quizical brow’? Well, one of the most common complications when treating foreheads with anti-wrinkle injections is named after Dr Spock.
‘Spocking’ usually occurs 1-2 weeks after anti-wrinkle treatments. It is described as funny-looking eyebrows that are too high towards the outer end, especially when you raise your brows. Often, they are overarched and make it look like something is not quite right.
The upper face has two muscle types. The first group is the elevator. This muscle (called the frontalis) lifts the forehead and enables you to raise your eyebrows. The second group are the depressors. These muscles are associated with frowning and pulling the forehead downward, as well as contraction of the muscle surrounding the eye. Brow position results from a combination of the upward force of the elevator and the downward pull of the depressors. When these opposing forces are out of balance, which can occur after an inadequate muscle relaxant injection, particularly the outer aspect of the elevator muscle, the brow can appear abnormal.
Anti-wrinkle treatments weaken or relax the muscles. Its effect on facial expression depends on which muscle group it is injected into. When it is injected into the brow elevators, it can weaken them so the brow is unable to effectively lift. This can result in a droopy or low-set brow. On the other hand, if it is injected into the brow depressors, it can relax or weaken these depressors to lessen the downward pull, causing the brows to elevate. This can be used to good cosmetic effect in the case of a ‘chemical brow-lift’. Spocking occurs when antiwrinkle product is concentrated too centrally, leaving the outer aspects of the elevator muscle of the forehead (the frontalis) completely active. This results in no movement in the mid forehead, but overactivity in the outer aspects, hence causing a raised ‘spocked’ brow.
So, how can we treat spocking?
It is generally a very easy problem to fix. Your expert cosmetic injector will inject a small amount of anti-wrinkle injections into the area of the muscles that are pulling the eyebrows in a strange way.
The key is to balance the forces between the forehead elevators, depressors and to ensure anti wrinkle product is spread across the forehead without sparing the outer aspects.
The forehead is one of the most challenging areas to inject. Fortunately, the spocking effect can be corrected easily. Each patient has different goals and needs as well as anatomy and variations. By using the vectors and having a great understanding of anatomy, the spocking effect can be avoided.
If you are unfortunate enough to experience spocking, fear not a simple painless fix is a short appointment away. It is best to have the correction 2 weeks post-treatment as the results from your anti-wrinkle treatment are a maximum during this period. Sometimes, if you notice the issue early, it may correct itself without treatment by the 2 week mark.