Laugh lines

4 Doctors Reveal Their Go-To Treatments For Nasolabial Folds

lower half of smiling woman's face

Let’s get one thing straight: wrinkles are not a bad thing. In fact, as a child, I loved wrinkles on adults. One of my mother’s favorite stories about me is from a family vacation when I told her that the woman in a hotel room next to us was the “most beautiful woman I had ever seen.” When asked why I thought she was so attractive, I said it was because she had “happy lines” on her face. 

Even at just seven years old, I knew that those “happy lines” — in this instance, crow’s feet and nasolabial folds — were the result of a life spent smiling and laughing. As I’ve grown older, however, my outlook on facial wrinkles — specifically on myself — has shifted a bit. I still think wrinkles look beautiful. And ultimately, whether or not you want to treat your wrinkles or let them be is a decision that’s completely up to you. However, I personally want to know my treatment options once deep creases start settling into my face. 

While I haven’t developed noticeable creases around my nose and mouth just yet, those indentations are a particular concern of mine. So, in an effort to know exactly what to do once my nasolabial folds officially bother me, I interviewed four doctors for their favorite treatments for them. Spoiler: your going to be surprised by the variety of options out there!

Nasolabial Fold Treatment #1: Filler

“My favorite treatment for laugh lines is a hyaluronic acid filler, which allows flexibility in the area while still providing support to the surrounding tissues. This provides an immediate improvement for this symptom of aging. Many injectors neglect volume loss and loss of elasticity in the midface as a cause of laugh lines, [but this] leads to a collapsing of tissues over the nasolabial fold. It contributes to the apparent deepening of folds in this area. Using filler and other modalities, however, we can mimic the once-present structural support of bone, fat and collagen.” 

Janelle Vega, MD, board-certified dermatologist in Miami, FL and co-founder of BIA Life

Nasolabial Fold Treatment #2: Ultherapy & Laser Resurfacing

“Plastic surgery is, of course, an option for lifting the cheek up and out, which would diminish the line. But when that's not needed, tightening technologies can work. For example, high-intensity focused ultrasound — like Ultherapy® — can trigger collagen production deep in the skin’s surface. This gives a softening effect to the crease at the laugh line. Additionally, when the laugh line has been creased for many years, sometimes it leaves behind a permanent crease at the depth of the laugh line valley. This can be softened with laser resurfacing to build and remodel the collagen at the top layer of the skin.”

Robert Anolik, MD, board-certified dermatologist in New York

[Editor’s note: As always, talk to your doctor before starting or stopping any new treatment

Nasolabial Fold Treatment #3: Microneedling

“I prefer to inject the cheek area in order to create lift and volume. [A different option] is the Vivace® Fractional Microneedle Radio Frequency treatment. Microneedling is a minimally-invasive treatment that creates microchannels deep in the dermis of the skin to stimulate the natural production of collagen. It softens wrinkles and fine lines, while also tightening the skin, creating a lifting effect, and decreasing the appearance of the nasolabial fold. There is also [very little] discomfort or downtime with this treatment.”

 —Howard Sobel, MD, board-certified cosmetic dermatologic surgeon in New York

Nasolabial Fold Treatment #4: Fat Transfer

“For those who want a surgical option, [I like] fat transfer. Fat transfer is a large part of my practice. A small amount of fat is usually taken from somewhere [on the body] — like the lower abdomen — and is transferred to each nasolabial fold. The fat lives in the fold once it is transferred, just like the other fat in our body.”

David Cangello, MD, board-certified plastic surgeon in New York