Aesthetic Treatments

Wrinkles Are Tough to Treat — 4 Aesthetic Treatments That Can Actually Deliver

Photo by Stephanie Stanley

There are a few human truths: Water is essential for life. Our DNA is uniquely our own. Laughter knows no language. And, at a certain point, humans develop wrinkles.

Wrinkles happen for a multitude of reasons, but the primary one is due to the passage of time. As years go by, our skin’s structural support — i.e. collagen and elastin — diminishes. Skin sags and folds, which can create a wrinkled appearance. Repeated muscle movement (e.g. from frowning) is another reason wrinkles form; eventually, those muscle contractions leave their mark. This ultimately appears as a crease in the overlying skin. Of course, these processes are natural; some people argue that facial lines can serve as reminders of life well-lived. While this might be true, it’s also totally OK to try and smooth them when they do evolve from dynamic wrinkles to permanent, resting wrinkles.

We love our retinols and peptides for their ability to smooth out fine lines and trigger collagen production. But, if you’re looking to make a more visible change in the appearance of wrinkles and/or facial folds, relying on at-home topical products alone won’t cut it. In these cases, chatting with a licensed and trained provider might be your best bet. They can wield some wrinkle-smoothing treatments that can only be performed under supervised care. (But don’t worry, you can still hold on to your retinol!)

[Editor's note: Retinol shouldn't be used by those who are pregnant, considering getting pregnant, or nursing. Please consult with your doctor before use.]

Injectable Wrinkle Reducer

What it is: Just as the name suggests, this is an injectable treatment that can temporarily reduce the appearance of moderate to severe facial lines. 

How it works: Injectable wrinkle reducers work to block the neurological signals responsible for muscle contractions. Once injected, the muscle activity decreases and the area appears smoother as a result. For example: If you habitually furrow your brow, the repeated muscle contraction can create the appearance of two vertical “eleven” lines between the brows. Injecting the muscle responsible for furrowing prevents them from contracting, and smooths the appearance of the lines. 

Injectable wrinkle reducers are not permanent, and retreatment is recommended no more frequently than every three months. When the product wears off, the muscle should return to its pre-injection state — along with the wrinkled appearance. Another timeline-related factor: the results from injectable wrinkle reducers may start to appear in a few days, but full results usually take a few weeks to be visible, so be sure to plan accordingly and be patient! 

[Editor’s note: Injectable wrinkle reducers are used to temporarily smooth the look of moderate to severe wrinkles in certain areas of the face such as the forehead, frown lines, and crow’s feet. They should not be used more frequently than every three months. Like any medical treatment, they have potential risks and side effects. Be sure to talk to a licensed provider to see if they’re right for you. Have more questions? Chat with our team of trained aesthetics specialists now.


Which wrinkles it can treat: Injectable wrinkle reducers can be used to improve the appearance of wrinkles in the forehead, between the brows (the elevens), and the crow’s feet. These areas just so happen to be the ones that we commonly contract — specifically, when we raise our brows (You said what!?), furrow them (I’m trying to focus here), or squinting (I left my sunglasses in the car . . . again). It’s worth noting that although this treatment can soften specific contractions, injectable wrinkle reducers do not “freeze” your entire face. Learn more about injectable wrinkle reducers here.

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Injectable Filler

What it is: This is a temporary injectable treatment used to add volume to certain areas of the face, including filling deep wrinkles such as laugh lines.

How it works: Often, super-deep wrinkles and/or facial folds are a result of volume loss, rather than underlying muscle contractions. In these instances, the aforementioned injectable wrinkle reducers are not an option. Instead, your provider may suggest filler. As the name implies, this gel-like substance literally “fills” up deep facial crevices when it is injected under the skin. For this reason, filler can plump up deep wrinkles, and make them appear less prominent as a result.

The results from injectable filler can last anywhere from a few months to up to two years. This often depends on the type of filler product used, as well as the area that is injected (lips, cheeks, or laugh lines). Results are immediate. That said, be sure to plan your appointment well before any special occasions, as temporary swelling and bruising are common side effects. Learn more about injectable fillers here.

[Editor’s note: Injectable filler is a temporary treatment that adds volume to areas of the face such as the lips, cheeks, and laugh lines. Like any medical treatment, it has potential risks and side effects. Be sure to talk to a licensed provider to see if it’s right for you. Have more questions? Chat with our team of trained aesthetics specialists now.]

Which wrinkles it can treat: Injectable fillers can be used to treat the smile lines, marionette lines, and perioral lines (or lip lines). Simply put, it can smooth the appearance of many deep-set wrinkles around the mouth and nose. Additionally, you may have heard of filler being used in the cheeks or lips. While not wrinkle-related, filler also works similarly in these areas by plumping and restoring lost volume.

Photo by Stephanie Stanley
 

Does not imply person featured in the photograph had any of the treatments mentioned in this article.

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Lasers

What it is: There are many different types of rejuvenating facial lasers, which can be divided into two main categories: ablative and non-ablative. Ablative lasers are significantly more intense than their non-ablative counterparts. (The latter can practically be done over a lunch break, whereas ablative lasers require recovery time.)

How it works: Ablative lasers remove the outermost layer of the skin and promote new skin growth. This new skin is more taut, less line-ridden, and usually more even-looking. (Yes, lasers can treat hyperpigmentation in addition to wrinkles.) Non-ablative lasers do not treat the skin, instead relying on heat energy to stimulate collagen production below the surface of the skin. Both laser categories rely on pulses of heat and/or light to do either of the aforementioned processes. 

Healing time for ablative lasers can vary from a few weeks to a few months; during this timeframe, the skin will go through a process of scabbing and re-growth (needless to say, this is probably not the best time to plan any major events). Once skin has healed over, it may still appear red for a few months thereafter. Treatment is intense, but the results — smoother skin with softer-looking wrinkles — might just be worth it. Plus, those results can last for years. Read more about laser skin resurfacing treatments here.

Which wrinkles it can treat: Targeted treatment is an option — but laser treatments are usually used on the entire face to improve the overall appearance of the skin. Non-ablative lasers can help to even out pigmentation and other minor skin imperfections, though they’re usually less effective on deeper lines and wrinkles. Ablative lasers are generally more effective for treating prominent wrinkles, as they dramatically resurface the skin.

Threads

What it is: Threads refer to a semi-invasive skin lifting procedure, which relies on surgical sutures. These are stitched into the skin and pulled upwards, giving the face a smoother, more lifted appearance. (Imagine pulling your skin taut in an upward motion to get a loose sense of the mechanics.)

How it works: A provider places surgical threads below the skin. The stitching allows the thread to carry the skin with it as the plastic surgeon moves the thread in an upward motion. While it may sound pretty invasive, the treatment is typically done as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia and usually requires minimal downtime. In addition to physically lifting sagging skin, threads can also trigger the body to produce more collagen in the areas they are inserted. There are different types of thread lifts on the market, and each has slight variations. One commonality: threads are a temporary treatment, as the body naturally dissolves the material over time.

Which wrinkles it can treat: Thread lifts are best for wrinkles and/or facial folds caused by collagen/elastin loss and sagging skin. Usually, these types of wrinkles are most apparent in the lower face, but threads can also be used to treat the area around the eyebrows and wrinkles in the neck. The results from a thread lift generally last from one to three years.

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