Nasolabial folds are comma-shaped lines or deep wrinkles that stretch from the nose’s edge to the mouth’s corners. They are more noticeable when making certain facial expressions or smiling, which is why they’re also known as smile lines or laugh lines.
Except for people with facial paralysis or newborn babies, almost everybody has smile lines. Therefore, there is no medical reason to modify them.
However, as much as they’re common, some people would prefer them to be less visible. This can lead to frustration and a desperate urge to seek treatment without fully understanding the issue at hand.
Why Do People Dislike Nasolabial Folds?
While it’s common to have smile lines, most people dislike them for various reasons.
For some, the folds are a sign of aging, and not so many people are comfortable with looking older than they are. Most people today, particularly women, would rather look way younger than their actual age, so anything that makes them less youthful isn’t welcome.
Also, it’s common for those who use makeup to find the makeup creasing and lining in the folds, which can be quite frustrating. Proper treatment must be sought to avoid even more significant side effects.
Lastly, smiling is one of the most natural human habits. However, if smiling too often contributes to the folds, most people get torn on what to do. They end up disliking them because they make even the most natural process problematic.
A skilled physician can evaluate the nasolabial folds clearly and outline the possible treatment options. They can personalize the treatment to fit your case because what works well for other patients may not be your best option.
Significant advances in medical science have made cosmetic procedures less invasive and time-consuming, a major reason why they’re now very popular with the masses. There are currently various treatment options available to treat laugh lines, but not all deliver great results. This article seeks to shine a light on the best treatment methods for nasolabial folds, but let’s first understand their common causes.
Causes of Nasolabial Folds
Most people believe that laugh lines are a sign of aging, but this is actually not true. They’re a part of human anatomy that everybody experiences. However, they tend to be more noticeable with age as they may sag and become profound. Some people may form fine lines next to the folds that even extend to the chin.
Here are some of the factors contributing to visible nasolabial folds.
- Sun exposure – While sun exposure is a medical recommendation for many, continuous exposure can damage the skin. It leads to wrinkles and changes in the facial skin’s feel.
- Loss of collagen – With age, the collagen levels in the skin diminish, making the skin around the eyes and mouth weak and thin compared to when young and full of life.
- Loss of fat – This can be due to many factors, one of them being age. Loss of fat stored in the cheeks makes a face look saggy, making wrinkles more visible.
- Smoking – Exposure to cigarette smoke and other environmental pollutants can speed up aging, diminishing collagen levels and leading to the folds becoming more pronounced.
- Genetics – This is dependent on DNA as it dictates skin aging.
- Weight gain – As much as weight loss or loss of fat contributes to the nasolabial folds, so does weight gain. Fluctuations in weight can also lead to wrinkles since weight loss leads to sagging while weight gain enhances the folds’ appearance as the cheeks get plumper.
In addition to the above factors, smiling can also make the folds grow deeper. Too much smiling can contribute to permanent wrinkles because smile lines are composed of facial muscle and fibrous tissues. Over time, the tissues tend to become more condensed, making the skin thin or sag, causing the folds to be more noticeable. This is more likely to affect the cheek area, upper lip, and midface.
So, what are the typical treatment techniques for nasolabial folds?
Nasolabial Fold Treatment Options
There are many surgical and non-surgical treatment options for these folds, but your doctor is at a better place determining the most suitable option for you. They include:
Fillers are the first recommended treatment for eliminating nasolabial folds. A plastic surgeon or a dermatologist injects fillers into the skin around the cheek, which adds volume to that area and lifts the skin. Depending on the fold’s severity, the dermatologist will recommend the best type of filler for your skin.
In most cases, dermal fillers are made from hyaluronic acid, a building block of skin and calcium hydroxylapatite found in bones. Both types are highly recommended as they help increase the collagen levels and make the skin plumper.
Fillers are very convenient considering they’re offered in an out-patient setting. The treatment requires very little time to none to recover. Some patients may experience slight bruising, but it’s hard to notice the bruises with a bit of makeup.
However, it’s good to note that fillers are just a temporary solution. They can last 6 to 24 months, with most lasting 6 to 9 months only. So, if you need a permanent solution, dermal fillers are not recommended. If you’re in urgent need of a solution, your doctor may suggest that you use the technique as another long-lasting treatment option is sought.
A plastic surgeon may recommend a series of 3 to 6 microneedling treatments for patients with shallow or superficial lines. The process involves using a power handpiece to create microscopic channels through the skin’s dermis, leading to the formation of new tissues that enhance hyperpigmentation and scar repair and healing.
The body’s natural healing process initiates elastin and collagen’s creation to make the skin thicker and tighter. With the skin less saggy, the folds become less noticeable, helping the patient regain their youthful appearance. The side effects are minor and include swelling and redness. Fortunately, they dissipate quickly.
Skin Tightening (Ultherapy)
If loose skin is the folds’ cause, dermatologists will likely advise skin tightening treatment or ultherapy, which is ultrasound therapy.
Skin tightening is similar to microneedling because a microscopic channel is created underneath the skin surface to stimulate collagen growth. The ultherapy procedure heats the skin’s dermal layer without damaging the outer layer, producing a tightening and lifting effect. However, it’s not a very effective treatment for people with severe conditions.
In most cases, the doctor will advise a series of treatments spaced between 18 and 24 months. A full-face treatment will take about two hours, and the results will last for about 12 months. There are only two main side effects, including discomfort during the procedure and a lag period of about 3 to 6 months before the full effects or results are obtained. As for the pain, oral meds can be given, as well as inhaled nitrous oxide, but only on demand.
The three treatment options above are some of the best in the medical science field. However, it’s always good to prevent than cure. Some of the following recommendations can prevent the formation of smile lines.
Nasolabial Folds Prevention
As much as it’s important to prevent than cure, it’s good to note that there are no known ways of preventing nasolabial folds from developing. However, a good lifestyle can prevent some of the causes of the smile lines.
Those who are concerned about developing deeper folds as they age should wear sunscreen whenever they go outside. That helps slow down the damage to the skin cells caused by constant exposure to the sun.
Be sure to take lots of water every day whether you already have the folds or not. Keeping your skin hydrated goes a long way in reducing saggy skin or wrinkles. Also, avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol or caffeine because they have side effects that can lead to the lines’ appearance.
It’s imperative that you incorporate regular exercise is into your daily schedule to reduce excessive fats considering rapid weight gain or weight fluctuation is a cause of smile lines.
Though there is no reliable research on the effectiveness of exercise in reducing the folds; in theory, it may help keep your facial muscles tight and toned. Some of the facial exercises recommended include:
- Sulk the lips for about 20 seconds and repeat the same movement four times.
- Pull the lips towards the ceiling and hold for 20 seconds and repeat four times
- Stretch the mouth’s edges outward and hold like in the other exercises for 20 minutes and repeat four times.
Finally, take gelatin or collagen supplements to keep the levels high and prevent the deepening of the lines as well as maintain the compactness of the tissues. Also, incorporate a healthy diet, which includes a plant diet, into the usual routine, and don’t forget to wash the face at least twice daily and apply a moisturizer conditioned to your skin type.
Smile lines are a normal part of life. However, there are various treatment options to reduce the intensity of nasolabial folds for those who wish not to have them. Some might work better on others but deliver the opposite results in other patients since everyone has a unique facial characteristic. To be on the right course, seek professional advice about the best treatment option for your particular case before making any decision.
Also, use the preventative measures above to reduce the folds as much as possible. Remember, it’s always advisable to start when young and not when the folds are already too pronounced.