Table of Contents
- What are nasolabial folds?
- Dermal fillers
- Skin resurfacing treatments
- Surgical removal
- Experimental treatments
- Exercises for nasolabial folds
Nasolabial folds are the indentation lines on either side of the mouth that extend from the edge of the nose to the mouth’s outer corners. They become more prominent when people smile.
These folds also tend to deepen with age. Some people develop wrinkles next to the nasolabial folds, which may be more visible during smiling. These sometimes called smile lines or laugh lines.
What are nasolabial folds?
Nasolabial folds are sometimes known as smile or laugh lines.Image credit: Mikael Häggström, from original by Sue Campbell/U.S. Air Force, (2011, March 4)
The nasolabial folds are lines located on either side of the mouth. They are more noticeable when a person smiles.
Except for newborns and people whose faces are paralyzed due to a medical condition, almost everyone has nasolabial folds.
The folds, which are made of dense bundles of fibrous tissue and muscles, tend to become more prominent with age.
As the skin becomes saggy and thinner, many people find that their nasolabial folds become more noticeable.
Nasolabial folds are a normal part of human anatomy, not a medical condition or a sign of aging. As people age, however, these folds can become deeper and may also sag.
With age, some people also develop lines next to the nasolabial folds. Others develop lines that extend down to the chin, which are sometimes referred to as marionette lines.
Nasolabial folds become more noticeable due to a variety of factors, including:
sun exposure, which damages the skin, causing wrinkles and changes in texture
loss of collagen with age, making the skin look weak and thin
loss of fat, which can make the cheeks and nearby regions appear saggy
As the skin ages, facial expressions can cause deeper wrinkles. Just as frequent scowling can cause lines near the eyebrows, smiling can make nasolabial folds deeper.
Other factors that play a role in skin aging include:
exposure to environmental pollutants
rapid weight loss or frequent fluctuations in weight
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Nasolabial folds are a cosmetic issue but are not a risk factor for any health condition and do not necessarily require treatment.
Some people who find that their nasolabial folds are especially pronounced may prefer to eliminate them. Some cosmetic procedures can reduce the appearance of nasolabial folds or eliminate them.
Treatment options include:
While cosmetic procedures to treat nasolabial folds are available, nasolabial folds are a normal facial feature and do not require treatment.
Dermal fillers are implants that are placed just under the skin. They can plump up the skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles.
A doctor can apply dermal fillers just under the skin in the nasolabial fold area or the upper cheek area to give the cheeks a lift, making the nasolabial folds less noticeable. The procedure can take place in a doctor’s office.
Fillers cannot make nasolabial folds disappear, but they can make them less pronounced. They can also be used to help nearby skin look fuller and more youthful.
Doctors can also inject fat into the nasolabial fold area to decrease their appearance. The fat is taken from another area of the body and injected to fill the area, similarly to the dermal filler.
Skin resurfacing treatments
Some skin resurfacing treatments can help the skin surrounding nasolabial folds look more youthful. Laser skin resurfacing, for example, can reduce the appearance of scars and age spots.
Microdermabrasion offers deep exfoliation that makes the skin look younger and thicker. These treatments can help offset the appearance of nasolabial folds, but they will not remove the folds.
A doctor can greatly reduce the appearance of nasolabial folds using a surgical process called subcision.
This procedure is typically used to treat scars and acne marks but may also help with nasolabial folds.
During subcision, a doctor uses a needle to break up pockets of tissue. This can help restructure the area surrounding nasolabial folds, reducing the depth of the folds, and leaving the surrounding skin looking more youthful.
Another option called excision involves removing the affected skin and attempting to reshape the surrounding area. This approach requires the use of a scalpel but can offer more dramatic results.
Doctors are continually trying new strategies to reduce the appearance of nasolabial folds without surgery.
One option is the use of growth factor, a chemical that stimulates cell growth. A 2015 study evaluated growth factor concentrate injections in 80 people with nasolabial folds.
The researchers concluded that this treatment is a safe and potentially effective option.