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Blood vessels of the face and scalp

Learning objectives

After completing this study unit you will be able to:

  1. Name the superficial arteries and veins of the face and scalp and describe their course.
  2. Identify the main branches of the superficial arteries of the face and scalp as well as their supply areas.
  3. Identify the main tributaries of the superficial veins of the face and scalp, as well as their draining areas.

Watch videos

The arterial supply of the face and scalp originates almost exclusively from the external carotid artery. The vast majority of the supply to the skin and muscles of the face originates from the facial artery. Additional supply to the face stems from the maxillary artery, which is a branch of the external carotid artery. Other branches of the external carotid artery mostly supply the scalp, and include the posterior auricular, occipital and superficial temporal arteries. While most of the face is supplied by the branches of the external carotid, a major contributor to the arterial supply is the ophthalmic artery, a branch of the internal carotid artery.

The venous drainage of the face and the scalp is mostly analogue to the arterial supply. The most notable vein is the facial vein, that runs a similar course to its arterial counterpart, receives many tributaries along its course, and ultimately drains into the internal jugular vein.

Learn more about all of these arteries and veins, as well as their branches, in the following video:

Take a quiz

Time to see how many of these new arteries and veins you’re able to identify in the quiz below:

Are you looking for an extra challenge? Why not try the following customizable quiz, with which you can test yourself on the anatomy of the entire head and modify the quiz right down to specific terms chosen by you!

Browse atlas


Take a closer look at each of the individual arteries in the gallery below:

Once you’ve mastered the arteries, turn your attention to the veins:



Key points about the arteries of the face and scalp
Main arteries External carotid artery: Facial, maxillary, posterior auricular, occipital, superficial temporal, transverse facial, middle temporal
Internal carotid artery
: Ophthalmic artery
Facial artery Submental artery: Supplies the muscles and skin of the submental area
Inferior labial artery
: Supplies the lower lip
Superior labial artery
: Supplies the upper lip, nasal septum, and ala of the nose
Angular artery
: Supplies the orbicularis oris muscle and the lacrimal sac
Maxillary artery Infraorbital artery: Supplies the area between the lower eyelid and upper lip
Buccal artery
: Supplies the buccinator muscle and surrounding structures
Mental branch of the inferior alveolar artery
: Supplies the chin
Other branches of external carotid artery Posterior auricular artery: Supplies the auricle of the ear and scalp posterior and superior to the auricle
Occipital artery
: Supplies the posterior scalp
Superficial temporal artery
: Supplies the temporal region of the face and scalp
Transverse facial artery
: Supplies the parotid gland and surrounding structures
Middle temporal artery
: Supplies the temporal region of the face and scalp
Ophthalmic artery Supratrochlear artery: Supplies the forehead, scalp and superior conjunctiva
Supraorbital artery
: Supplies the forehead, scalp and superior conjunctiva
Key points about the veins of the face and scalp
Veins of the face Supratrochlear and supraorbital veins: Drain the forehead and anterior scalp
Angular vein
: Drains the anterior scalp, forehead, eyelids and conjunctiva
Inferior labial, superior labial and facial veins
: Drain the anterior scalp, forehead, eyelids, external nose, anterior cheek, lips, chin and submandibular gland
Deep facial vein
: Drains structures of the infratemporal fossa
Veins of the scalp Superficial temporal vein: Drains temporal scalp, temporal muscle and ear
Middle temporal vein
: Drains temporal scalp
Posterior auricular vein
: Drains the scalp posterior to the ear

Well done!

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