Facial artery

The facial artery (external maxillary artery in older texts) is a branch of the external carotid artery that supplies structures of the superficial face.

Facial artery
The arteries of the face and scalp. (External maxillary visible at bottom center.)
Outline of side of face, showing chief surface markings. (Label for "Ext. Max. Art." at bottom left.)
Sourceexternal carotid artery
BranchesAscending palatine artery
Tonsillar branch
Submental artery
Glandular branches
Inferior labial artery
Superior labial artery
Lateral nasal branch
Angular artery (terminal branch)
Veinanterior facial vein, posterior facial vein
Latinarteria facialis,
arteria maxillaris externa
Anatomical terminology


The facial artery arises in the carotid triangle from the external carotid artery a little above the lingual artery and, sheltered by the ramus of the mandible, passes obliquely up beneath the digastric and stylohyoid muscles, over which it arches to enter a groove on the posterior surface of the submandibular gland.

It then curves upward over the body of the mandible at the antero-inferior angle of the masseter; passes forward and upward across the cheek to the angle of the mouth, then ascends along the side of the nose, and ends at the medial commissure of the eye, under the name of the angular artery.

The facial artery is remarkably tortuous. This is to accommodate itself to neck movements such as those of the pharynx in deglutition; and facial movements such as those of the mandible, lips, and cheeks.

Superficial dissection of the right side of the neck, showing the carotid and subclavian artery. Branch of facial artery labeled


In the neck, its origin is superficial, being covered by the integument, platysma, and fascia; it then passes beneath the digastric and stylohyoid muscles and part of the submandibular gland, but superficial to the hypoglossal nerve.

It lies upon the middle pharyngeal constrictor and the superior pharyngeal constrictor, the latter of which separates it, at the summit of its arch, from the lower and back part of the tonsil.

On the face, where it passes over the body of the mandible, it is comparatively superficial, lying immediately beneath the dilators of the mouth. In its course over the face, it is covered by the integument, the fat of the cheek, and, near the angle of the mouth, by the platysma, risorius, and zygomaticus major. It rests on the buccinator and levator anguli oris, and passes either over or under the infraorbital head of the levator labii superioris.

The anterior facial vein lies lateral/posterior to the artery, and takes a more direct course across the face, where it is separated from the artery by a considerable interval. In the neck it lies superficial to the artery.

The branches of the facial nerve cross the artery from behind forward.

The facial artery anastomoses with (among others) the dorsal nasal artery of the internal carotid artery.


The branches of the facial artery are:


Muscles supplied by the facial artery include:

Additional images

See also


This article incorporates text in the public domain from page 553 of the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

  • "Facial artery". Medcyclopaedia. GE.
  • Anatomy photo:23:09-0101 at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center - "The Facial Artery and Vein"
  • Anatomy figure: 25:04-04 at Human Anatomy Online, SUNY Downstate Medical Center - "Branches of the external carotid artery."
  • Anatomy photo:31:09-0106 at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center - "Common Carotid Artery and Branches of the External Carotid Artery"
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