Causes and treatments 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. Image credit: Mikael Häggström, from original by Sue Campbell/U.S. Air Force, (2011, March 4)

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.

Causes

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:

  • smoking
  • exposure to environmental pollutants
  • rapid weight loss or frequent fluctuations in weight

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