Nerves and vessels of the face and scalp

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Nerves and vessels of the face and scalp

Figure 1. Cutaneous branches of the trigeminal nerve (CN V). A. Lateral view of trigeminal nerve, showing its three divisions. B. Anterior view of cutaneous branches of each division.
Figure 2. Course and branches of the A. Ophthalmic and B. Maxillary divisions of the trigeminal nerve, parasagittal sections. 
Figure 3. A. Branches of the mandibular division of the trigeminal nerve and B. Cutaneous branches of the cervical plexus (from anterior rami) and the posterior rami of cervical spinal nerves, lateral views.
Figure 4. Branches of the facial nerve (CN VII), providing innervation to the muscles of facial expression.
Figure 5. Arteries of the face and scalp.
Figure 6. Veins of the face and scalp.
Figure 7. Lymphatic drainage of the face.
Unlabelled diagrams


The face contains an abundance of small muscles that work together to help us show our emotions. You can thank these muscles for everything your face does, from smiling and frowning to making funny faces in group pictures!

Naturally, for these muscles to work, there are many tiny nerves, arteries, and veins that supply them. Let’s start off with the sensory innervation of the face.

Almost all of its sensory innervation is provided by the fifth cranial nerve, also known as the trigeminal nerve, which has three divisions.

Its superior division is known as the ophthalmic nerve, and it provides sensory innervation for the part of the scalp anterior to the vertex of the head, the forehead, the upper eyelids, the dorsum of the nose and the roof of the nasal cavity.

The ophthalmic nerve arises from the trigeminal ganglion, leaves the skull through the superior orbital fissure, and enters the orbit, where it gives rise to three branches; the frontal nerve, the nasociliary nerve and the lacrimal nerve.

So let’s look at them one by one! The frontal nerve runs across the roof of the orbit, and it gives rise to the supraorbital and the supratrochlear nerves.

The supraorbital nerve exits the orbit through the supraorbital notch and supplies the skin of the anterior part of the scalp, the anterolateral forehead, and the middle of the upper eyelids.

The supratrochlear nerve exits the orbit lateral to the trochlea and supplies the skin of the anteromedial forehead.

Next is the nasociliary nerve, which divides into the anterior ethmoidal, the posterior ethmoidal, and the infratrochlear nerves.


The face and the scalp are supplied by several nerves and blood vessels that serve various functions.

Major nerves of the face and scalp include: The trigeminal nerve: a mixed nerve that supplies the muscles of the face, the skin of the face and scalp, and the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, and sinuses. It is the main nerve responsible for facial sensation. The facial nerve: a mixed nerve that supplies the muscles of facial expression and the parotids glands, and the lacrimal glands (tear glands). It is also involved in the sense of taste and the production of tears and saliva. The occipital nerves: innervate the scalp and the back of the neck.

Major vessels of the face and scalp include: The external carotid artery supplies blood to the face and scalp. It gives rise to several branches, including the superficial temporal artery, the maxillary artery, and the facial artery. The internal carotid artery supplies blood to the brain and the eyes. The jugular vein drains blood from the head and neck back to the heart. Lymph from the face drains into the superficial lymph nodes, mainly the submental, the submandibular, and the parotid lymph nodes.


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