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Lines and wrinkles on the face are a part of skin aging, an inevitable process. Among these signs of aging, the first to appear are smile lines, also known as nasolabial folds.
Smile lines refer to the folds that form from both sides of the nose to the corners of the mouth. You may also notice wrinkles on the corner of your eyes and on your nose while smiling.
These lines are initially visible only when you smile, but with years of laughing and smiling, they may deepen and become permanent. There are treatments you can take to fade these smile lines and give your skin a younger appearance.
Causes of Smile Lines
Several factors contribute to the appearance of smile lines. The common ones are:
- Low collagen and elastin reserves: As you get older, your skin gradually loses its ability to produce collagen and elastin fibers. This lack of structural proteins makes the skin loose, leading to the development of folds and lines.
- Skin dehydration: Another skin aging factor that contributes to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles is decreased production of natural moisturizing factors (NMF), which affects the skin’s ability to pull moisture from the air, therefore increasing the chances of skin dehydration. Dry skin can shrink and develop smile lines.
- Repetitive facial expressions: Frequent repetitive facial expressions cause the muscles to contract and relax, resulting in the formation of smile lines and wrinkles over time.
- Heredity: You may be predisposed to the formation of smile lines at an early age due to genetic factors.
- Smoking: The smoke from cigarettes can affect your skin health and can induce collagen breakdown in the skin. Furthermore, nicotine can impede blood flow to the skin surface, increasing the chances of developing smile lines.
- Sun exposure: The harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun can damage the skin by increasing oxidative stress and therefore contribute to smile lines and wrinkles.
- Improper sleeping positions: While you sleep, your skin may fold and remain so the entire night. This external pressure forms creases on the skin, resulting in facial wrinkles. Such formation of fine lines due to external changes to the skin is commonly seen in people who sleep on their sides or on the stomach.
Treatment for Smile Lines
Smile lines are not a medical concern, but they can be a cosmetic problem for many people. The good news is several treatments are available to help fade these lines.
Different treatment modalities, when performed by experts, can help improve smile lines. Your doctor will analyze the depth of your smile lines and your skin condition and will suggest a suitable treatment, such as the following.
- Thread lift: Temporary sutures are done to lift and retighten the skin, smoothing out wrinkles and giving your skin a younger appearance. (1)
- Dermal fillers: Injectable gels are given to plump up your skin, leveling out smile lines when injected in the nasolabial area. (2)
- Botulinum toxin: Also known as Botox Ò, this is a temporary solution to minimize muscle contraction and therefore prevent the formation of smile lines. (3)
- Mesotherapy: A cocktail of nourishing compounds, including vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, hyaluronic acid, coenzymes, and minerals, are injected into the middle layer of the skin to rejuvenate it. (4)
- PRP (platelet-rich plasma): Also known as a vampire facelift, this procedure uses growth and healing factors from your own blood to boost skin turnover. The doctor will extract beneficial plasma from your blood and inject it into skin that is pretreated with filler injections to help increase skin cell production, therefore aiding in skin rejuvenation. (5)
- High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU): This non-invasive procedure uses HIFU energy to stimulate collagen production deep within the skin, reaching up to the subcutaneous layer, to help improve smile lines and wrinkles. (6)
- Radiofrequency (RF): Radiofrequency waves are used to tighten the skin and treat photoaging. (7)
- Laser treatment: Lasers help exfoliate the outer damaged skin layer, therefore encouraging the production of new skin cells. The procedure also boosts collagen production. Note that laser treatment can cause swelling and microscabbing until the skin heals completely. (8)
Many over-the-counter creams and serums can help reduce smile lines and even delay the formation of new fine lines. These include:
- Moisturizers: The regular use of moisturizers goes a long way in keeping your skin healthy and plump, reducing the appearance of smile lines.
- Retinols: A derivative of vitamin A, retinol is an antioxidant that not only helps fade existing smile lines but also helps delay the formation of new fine lines. The topical application of retinol can therefore combat wrinkles due to natural aging. (9)
- Alpha hydroxy acids: These are mild skin exfoliants that boost collagen synthesis, hydrate the skin, and make it firm. Therefore, the use of alpha hydroxy acids can aid in the reduction of smile lines and wrinkles. (10)
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C stimulates collagen production, therefore helping thicken the skin layers. This, in turn, makes the skin firm and taut, smoothing out smile lines.
- Peptide serums: Protein-based serums can help improve skin elasticity and firmness, therefore aiding in the management of smile lines and wrinkles.
When to See a Doctor
You can consult your doctor for the treatment of smile lines or wrinkles if they are bothersome for you. The doctor will analyze your skin condition and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
Also, make sure to comply with your scheduled checkups after the medical treatment so your doctor can track your recovery. Get immediate medical attention if you experience vision problems, pain, or signs of stroke after getting the treatment.
Smile lines are a type of wrinkles that appear on your face and deepen with age. While there is nothing you can do to prevent smile lines from forming, you can take steps to delay their appearance.
You can seek different treatments to fade or smoothen out smile lines. Different noninvasive treatment modalities provide short-term or long-term solutions to wrinkles and fine lines. Consult your doctor on a suitable treatment and how to maintain young-looking skin.