The nasolabial folds, commonly known as “smile lines” or “laugh lines” are the two skin folds that run from each side of the nose to the corners of the mouth. These folds become a cosmetic problem when they get deep and more pronounced. Some have associated darkness of skin colour along these lines making them look odd. For most, such deep smile lines are nothing to smile about. These lines or creases tend to get deeper as we age. The folds when more pronounced make one look older and tired than ones actual age thus becoming cosmetically undesirable.
The most significant factors that contribute to the prominence of the fold are excess skin, skin thinning, excess cheek fat, and ptosis of cheek fat. Nose to mouth lines or folds are one of the earliest signs of facial ageing, as we age, the cheek skin falls down or drapes over the nasal labial line to create the nasolabial fold.
A youthful face is a full face with plump cheeks. A structure called the malar fat pad is attached to our cheek bones high in the face and gives a plump or high cheek bone appearance. As our ageing skin and cheek fat pad sag downward, the nasal labial line blocks the downward sag, the loose skin and cheek fat pad fall over the nasal labial line thus creating a fold of skin-the nasal labial fold.
Most people, specially in age group 30-50 years, seek cosmetic and dermatological treatments as these nasolabial lines become too deep or pronounced. There are both surgical and non-surgical methods to correct the nasal labial fold.
Non-surgical correction of Nasolabial lines or folds include:
The most common non-surgical method is to inject soft tissue filler into the Nasolabial fold line to plump the deep line beneath the Nasolabial fold. This technique plumps and camouflages the line and makes the overlying fold less obvious. Fillers are biodegradable and do need to be repeated at six month to one year intervals.
The liquid face lift technique also uses soft tissue fillers but they are used to plump the mid cheek area and the cheek bone area. The effect is to plump and lift the sagging cheek and pull the nasal labial fold higher.
Fat transfer is a more permanent filling solution to correct Nasolabial fold lines and mid face aging. Fat is harvested from an area of fat excess in the body, usually the hips or abdomen and injected into the mid face region.
Skin tightening with laser and light therapies are new non-surgical skin tightening technologies available. All are based on the concept of heating the deep layers of the skin to 60 degrees centigrade, the collagen in the skin will then shrink and the skin will tighten. This deep skin heating has to be achieved while the surface of the skin is cooled, otherwise the skin could be injured. The best results though achieve only a 20-30 per cent skin tightening, usually not enough to lift the cheek or lessen the nasal labial fold.