I believe the key to a happy life is to remain positive regardless of the situation and always keep a smile on. But who knew that excessive smiling and laughing would make us look older?! I’m referring to the formation of laugh lines.
Laugh lines are wrinkles or creases that form around the mouth or eyes and are accentuated when we smile or laugh. In medical terms, laugh lines are known as nasolabial folds. They occur primarily due to ageing. As we age, our cheeks lose volume and support, which cause the fat pads in our cheeks to descend downwards. This over time deepens the folds surrounding the cheeks, resulting in nasolabial folds. While ageing is a natural process that everyone goes through, there are a few factors that accelerate ageing on our skin, such as smoking, sun exposure or simply genetics.
Does this mean that if we stop laughing or smiling or basically restrict any facial movements, we can prevent the formation of laugh lines? Well, technically yes — but that would take the joy out of living. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can reduce or eliminate laugh lines. The first easy and accessible way that everyone can (and should) do is to moisturise and apply sunscreen daily. Moisturising helps hydrate your skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines. I recommend using a moisturiser that contains collagen for best effect.
For sunscreen, aim for one with a SPF of at least 30 and if possible wear a hat to shade your face. Sun protection is extremely important; not doing so can cause and even worsen existing laugh lines. Exfoliating your skin regularly helps too. If you have some time on your hands, you can try making your own exfoliant at home! Some of my patients make their exfoliants using brown sugar and coconut oil and swear by it. Otherwise, I’m sure you can easily purchase an exfoliant from a beauty store — just make sure it’s suitable for your skin type.
If you’re looking for a fast, effective and obvious way to reduce the look of your laugh lines, there are a few non-surgical aesthetic methods I would recommend.
Nasolabial fillers are essentially dermal fillers I inject into the nasolabial region to gently lift up the laugh lines and reduce the appearance of the fold. In Singapore, dermal fillers made of hyaluronic acid are usually the filler of choice for anti-aging. This is because hyaluronic acid is prized as a water-loving molecule that attracts water up to 200x its own weight. Hydration is what we aim for firmness in the skin.
The results of nasolabial fillers are almost immediate with close to zero downtime, which makes it a highly favoured treatment for patients. There are many brands of hyaluronic acid-based dermal fillers in the market and your doctor would be able to advise which is best for you.
The thing about nasolabial fillers however is that like with all aesthetic procedures, you need to hit the sweet spot. Too much and you look overfilled, too little and you look the same with no results achieved. If your doctor or clinic sells you a generic package with X amount of fillers or claims "the more the merrier", it’s a huge warning sign. Every treatment should be customised to the patient’s facial anatomy and needs. Unless you want to look like a pug face from too much dermal fillers, more is not always more.
Neurotoxins are toxins injected to block nerve signals to the muscles that cause wrinkles. The targeted muscle is relaxed and over time the fine lines and wrinkles are removed. This is why apart for aesthetic reasons, neurotoxin injections are commonly used to treat bruxism or teeth grinding to relax the jaw muscles.
So by injecting neurotoxins into the nasolabial region, muscle activity around the area is significantly reduced which prevents laugh lines from developing or worsening. Does this mean that with the injections in place, you won’t be able to smile or laugh anymore? Yes, only if you go overboard with your doses. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of celebrities who look frozen and plastic-like due to too much BTX/neurotoxin injections. When injected in the right amount, neurotoxin injections can be very natural-looking while serving their anti-aging functions and preserving your facial expressions.
Even though neurotoxins are deadly in nature, you can rest assured that commercially available neurotoxins for dermatological treatments are very safe. I ensure that all the neurotoxins used at my clinic are FDA and HSA-approved. So yes, as long as you are healthy, neurotoxins are suitable for you, with the exception of pregnant or breastfeeding women, those with neurological conditions or those allergic to neurotoxins.
Lewis M. B. (2018). The interactions between botulinum-toxin-based facial treatments and embodied emotions. Scientific reports, 8(1), 14720. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-33119-1
Dessy, L. A., Fallico, N., Mazzocchi, M., & Scuderi, N. (2011). Botulinum toxin for glabellar lines: a review of the efficacy and safety of currently available products. American journal of clinical dermatology, 12(6), 377–388. https://doi.org/10.2165/11592100-000000000-00000