Is the Orbicularis Oculi Muscle Ever Frozen with Botox Injections?

wondering if this muscle is commonly or ever frozen by botox injections? "When someone smiles out of genuine delight, a facial muscle called the orbicularis oculi involuntarily contracts, crinkling the skin around the eyes. Most of us are incapable of deliberately moving this muscle, which means that when a person fakes a smile, her orbicularis oculi likely won't budge."

Doctor Answers 15

Obicularis occuli

The obicularis occuli acts as a sphincter for the eye.  It is a ring like muscle that squeezes the eye shut.  There are other sphincter muscles such as the mouth sphincter (obicularis oris) and the anal sphincter (under appreciated until it doesn't work properly).  

Botox to the crows feet weakens the obicularis occuli and it is never injected to totally wipe it out.  A very, very nice improvement to the crows feet can be made with careful injection that allows for smiling with the eyes but without the really, really corrugated appearance that leaves permanent creases. 

With the scowl muscles between the eyes, I try to wipe them out with a good dose of Botox because no one needs to scowl unless you are a mother of teenagers, a blues singer or a character actor. 

Oh, and one more tidbit,  Botox is sometimes used in the anal sphincter for spasm of that muscle or sometimes for anal tears.  I know, TMI.

Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 73 reviews

Botox uses

Botox is FDA approved for cosmetic purposes only in the glabella. However, it is commonly used "off label" in other locations. I commonly inject it on the side of the eyes, partially weakening the lateral extent of the orbicularis oculi muscle. This helps to soften crow's feet when smiling. When used here, I have never seen it create an un-natural or fake appearance with facial animation.

John Bitner, MD
Salt Lake City Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 89 reviews

Botox used for crows feet lines

Yes, the orbicularis oculi muscles are often "frozen" with Botox to treat crows feet lines. That muscles is the one that closes the eyes, so the whole muscle isn't frozen, just the part infer the crows feet. I do believe that the smile of true delight shows much differently than a fake smile. Artfully done Botox shouldn't change that.

Daryl K. Hoffman, MD
San Jose Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Orbicularis Occuli Muscle and Botox

I have not looked at Oprah's explanation, but it is not true that the orbicularis muscle is inactive during a fake smile.  It is very easy to voluntarily activate that muscle and a fake smile would most certainly include the orbicularis.  In fact, it would require a great deal of concentration to fake a smile and not use the orbicularis muscle to any appreciable degree.  It is true that a faked smile is different than a real smile, but it has to do with the fine details of the activation and includes all of your smile muscles, not just the orbicularis.

Botox could be used to fully disable the orbicularis muscle.  But this is never done.  You only treat the portion in the Crow's foot area.  If you were to disable the entire muscle, you would not be able to close your eyes except by passive "spring" of the tissues and gravity.  This is seen in people after nerve injuries or strokes and it can be very dangerous to the health of your eye.

Louis W. Apostolakis, MD
Austin Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

BOTOX® is mainly used to relax muscles, seldom to freeze them

In particular when used in aesthetic medicine, BOTOX® is mainly used to relax muscles, seldom to freeze them.

Almost all of my patients want a natural, wholesome, relaxed appearance. This can usually be achieved by simple treatment with moderate doses of BOTOX®.

In subsequent treatment sessions the dose of BOTOX® can be adjusted up or down [as the patient wishes] to adjust the degree of relaxation of the orbicularis or other muscles of facial expression. For example, in the spring and summer when patients are squinting more in the bright sunshine, some prefer to have an increased dose of BOTOX®, then drop back a bit to a lower dose in the autumn.

Some patients have remarked that they feel that they can express themselves more accurately after they have had treatment with BOTOX®, because after BOTOX® they are not making unwanted or excessive facial expressions.

Kevin C. Smith, MD
Niagara Falls Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Botox for "crow's feet": keep the smile, lose the wrinkles

The eyes and the mouth have a circular muscle around them called orbicularis, which puckers the lips (causing "smoker's lines") and crow's feet wrinkles lateral to the eyes. Botox works well for crow's feet when palced into the lateral part of the orbicularis oculi. Keep in mind though that smiling involves a lot of muscles (not as many as frowning according to popular wisdom) so you shouldn't lose all expression by treating the orbicularis with Botox.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 53 reviews

The Eye's Orbicularis Muscle, Botox and

What makes us APPEAR human is our ability to show facial expressions. The muscles of facial expressions, also called ANIMATION muscles are so named based on the Latin word of Anima or Soul. It is therefore an outward expression of our soul to facially express our inner feeling and emotion. 

Unlike what states, the Orbicularis Oculi muscle CAN and IS moved deliberately every time we smile, forcibly close our eyes or squint. The repeated contractures of the muscles crease the skin creating the Crow's Feet deformity. This is similar to what happens when a lawn bag cinching plastic cable is pulled closing the bag but creasing the bag around the closing opening. Placing a few units of Botox around the lateral aspect of the eye weakens the Orbicularis Oculi muscle in this area and by it being unable to fully contract, it cannot create the pleats and wrinkles of Crow's Feet.

Conclusion? - Don't believe everything you read, even on Do your own research.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 109 reviews

Botox freezing eye muscles

In a large enough does, the Botox can weaken the orbicularis muscle to a large extent. When one smiles, typically both the orbicularis muscle and the cheek muscles contract and the crow’s feet or wrinkles form from both muscles. Even if you totally weaken the orbicularis muscles, upon smiling, you will still have crow’s feet, maybe less, but still some.

Julio Garcia, MD
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Orbicularis eye muscles not totally "frozen" with Botox Cosmetic

These muscles, the Orbicularis Occuli, are sphincteric muscles that are partially weakened but not totally frozen or paralyzed with Botox, in order to reduce the appeaance of crow's feet around the lateral eye area. Typical dosing is 8 to 12 units per eye for this purpose in my experience, and it works quite well in reducing these lines and wrinkles for about 4 months on average.


Harrison C. Putman III, MD
Peoria Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Is the Orbicularis Oculi Muscle Ever Frozen with Botox Injections?

  Yes, all the time when Botox, Dysport or the newer Xeomin is injected into the Crow Feet area of the face.  This is the outer edge of that muscle.

Francis R. Palmer, III, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.