Skip to content

Information and Resources

Moon Facies

Font Size
A
A
A

If your face has gradually swollen into a rounded shape, you may have moon facies. Also called moon face, this is usually not serious. But it may make you feel self-conscious.

Moon facies occurs when extra fat builds up on the sides of the face. It is often related to obesity but can be from Cushing's syndrome. That's why people sometimes refer to it as a Cushingoid appearance. Cushing's syndrome occurs when the body is exposed for long periods to high levels of a hormone called cortisol.

Symptoms and Causes of Moon Facies

Moon facies may cause the face to gradually become round, full, or puffy. The sides of your face may become so round from the buildup of fat that the ears can't be seen from the front of your face. Fat deposits in the sides of the skull can also make the face look rounder.

A high release of hormones, especially cortisol, is a cause of moon face. This is called hyperadrenocorticalism or hypercortisolism. The adrenal glands, triangular-shaped glands that sit on top of the kidneys, release the cortisol.

Conditions Related to Moon Facies

The conditions that most commonly lead to hypercortisolism and the symptom of moon facies include:

  • Increased release of a hormone (ACTH) from the pituitary gland. ACTH prompts the adrenal gland to produce cortisol.
  • Nonpituitary tumors -- such as tumors of the lung, pancreas, or thymus -- which also cause big releases of ACTH.
  • Benign tumors or cancers in the adrenal gland.
  • Long-term use of steroid medications like prednisone for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune conditions.

To confirm that moon facies is the result of abnormal cortisol levels, your doctor may do blood and urine tests. To confirm the cause of high cortisol levels, you may need other tests, such as an MRI or CT scan.

Moon Facies and Cushing Syndrome

It can be difficult to diagnose Cushing's syndrome. That's because signs and symptoms such as facial swelling can be caused by other conditions such as allergies. But it is more likely to be Cushing's syndrome if moon facies gets worse gradually along with other characteristic symptoms.

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

feet
Solutions for 19 types.
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
pregnancy test and calendar
Helping you get pregnant.
man rubbing painful knee
A visual guide.
lone star tick
How to identify that bite.
woman standing behind curtains
How it affects you.
brain scan with soda
Tips to avoid complications.
row of colored highlighter pens
Tips for living better.
human lungs
Symptoms, causes, treatments.
woman dreaming
What Do Your Dreams Say About You?
two male hands
Test your knowledge.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.