A deepening nasolabial fold is one of the most difficult signs of age to treat. And a big concern for many people.
For all of you who don’t want to experiment with cosmetic injections or plastic surgery in an intent to camouflage this concern. This post will guide you through the natural nasolabial fold treatments that really work. And also explain what to avoid for a long-term result.
As you may know, I advocate natural beauty. And in this post, I’ll share the tactics that I personally use in order to keep nasolabial folds at bay. These are proven methods that will work for every age and skin type.
But before we get started I just want to be clear about two things. Firstly, nasolabial folds aren’t any typical wrinkles. They are more a result of volume loss and sagging skin. And secondly, they require consistent time and dedication in order to improve.
With that said, this is what I will cover. And as always, you can jump to any section by clicking on the headlines below:
- What are nasolabial folds?
- What causes nasolabial folds?
- The basics of anti-aging
- The best nasolabial folds treatments
- The treatments I don’t recommend for nasolabial folds
- Summary – 5 steps for treating nasolabial folds naturally
So let’s dig in!
What are Nasolabial Folds?
A nasolabial fold (also named melolabial fold) is an overall term for the crease that runs from the side of your nostril down toward the corner of your mouth. It’s a normal part of human anatomy and everyone has them more or less. Except for newborns.
The shape and angulation of nasolabial folds can vary a lot from one person to another. And some people also develop lines that run parallel.
The folds, which are made of dense bundles of fibrous tissue and muscles, tend to become more prominent with age.
To be more precise, the term nasolabial fold can be divided into nasolabial crease (a line or a wrinkle) and true nasolabial fold, which is a much deeper wrinkle with excess skin and tissue hanging over.
Other words for nasolabial folds are smile lines and laugh lines. This can be a bit misleading since smiling and laughing are not the culprits of the deep nasolabial folds. Even though it can contribute to other lines parallel to the nasolabial fold.
So what are the real causes for a too prominent nasolabial fold? Well with aging, part of the cheeks starts to droop. And this is caused by several factors.
The main cause is volume loss due to muscle atrophy, fat atrophy, and bone loss. And I’ll explain more in the next section.
What causes Nasolabial folds?
What exactly causes nasolabial folds to deepen over time? You may have heard that it’s due to loss of collagen and elastin, just as with other wrinkles. But the truth is that when it comes to the nasolabial fold, it’s a much more complex story. Something that involves the atrophy of muscles, fat tissue, and bone mass.
I will now explain exactly what that means. You definitely do not want to skip this information since it is crucial in order to understand the treatments for nasolabial folds.
Loss of bone mass
You are probably aware of the fact that as we age we lose bone mass. With a speed highly dependent on lifestyle factors.
Well, that bone atrophy is also occurring in the craniofacial skeleton. Meaning the face does also lose bone mass, which will cause a loss of volume and impact how a person looks.
With bone atrophy occurring in the face, the chin will for example start to recede. The eye sockets will deepen. And the cheekbones will flatten. And as this happens, the skin will start to follow the law of gravity.
The facial bones begin to lose density and volume at the same time as other bones of the body. And for women, this process begins as early as at the age of 27.
Depending on genetics and lifestyle factors, the speed of this process can vary a lot.
Loss of fat and redistribution of fat pads
Facial fat provides volume and is very important for a youthful look. With age (and depending on lifestyle factors) this fat will decrease. And that is not all. Some of the so-called fat pads will also redistribute and fall downwards.
Fat pads are areas where many fat cells are closely packed together. These pads contribute to volume and contour of your face.
As the years pass by, some of the fat pads will, unfortunately, begin to fall downwards.
The fat pad that sits along the cheekbone (the so-called malar fat pad) provides a great fullness to the eyes and cheeks. But will with age begin to droop. Which makes the nasolabial folds more prominent.
Why this drooping occurs is probably a mix of several factors. And some studies suggest it is mainly a result of slack of ligament support. I will get back to this under the treatments below.
When it comes to general loss of fat tissue in the face, weight loss (and especially rapid weight loss) will contribute alot. As well UV-exposure. I will get back to this too.
Loss of muscles
Our facial muscles give us volume and circulation. But just as in the case with bone mass and fat tissue, we also lose facial muscle mass the older we get.
That process can either be delayed and even reversed (with the right nutrition and exercise). Or it can be accelerated with the lack of exercise and nutrition.
The muscles in your face are no different from the ones in your body, except for one thing. They are directly attached to the skin.
What that means is that they do not only provide volume and plumpness. They will also highly affect the tightness of your skin.
Strong and healthy muscles mean tighter skin. While weak muscles mean the opposite.
This is one of the reasons I do not recommend anyone to use Botox. Because using that neurotoxin over time will cause muscle atrophy. And speed up the aging process.
I will get back to how important facial muscles are for volume, glow, and tightness of the skin.
And luckily there are things we can all do to improve and even reverse muscle loss! Read more under treatments below.
Loss of Collagen and Elastin
Most wrinkles are a result of loss of collagen and elastin. A process also named Dermal atrophy.
This is a process that will cause the skin to lose elasticity and smoothness. And leads to a more leathering skin appearance over time.
Dermal atrophy will of course contribute to nasolabial folds. Even though it’s the loss of facial volume that is the big culprit for these concerns (as well as for jowls and marionette lines).
Some things that will speed up the breakdown of collagen and elastin are sun-rays, smoking, lack of sleep, stress, and nutrient deficiency.
I suggest you read about the 3 fundamental rules to delay aging and prevent wrinkles to learn more. And my article about what you will look like in the future In order to get the whole picture.
But, if you sleep in certain positions, you may actually deepen one or booths of your nasolabial folds.
This can happen if you sleep on the side or on your stomach. So I definitely suggest back sleeping.
What about smiling?
As mentioned earlier nasolabial folds are also called smile lines and laugh lines. Even though smiling and laughing isn’t really the main cause.
It’s important to remember that nasolabial folds occur mostly from sagging skin and drooping cheeks. By smiling, you are rather lifting the tissues and muscles and preventing gravity fall. Smiling also lowers cortisol, which preserves collagen in your skin.
Loss of Hyaluronic Acid
With age (and lifestyle factors) the production of hyaluronic acid within your skin will decrease. And that process will also contribute to making any lines more apparent. As well as the skin more flaccid.
Now there are natural methods to increase the production of hyaluronic acid. And one of the most powerful ways is to increase the intake of certain carotenoids. Which I discuss more in my article about the skin tightening foods you should eat every day.
Other tips that will boost your production of Hyaluronic acid is found in this guide.
Nasolabial folds are mostly caused by loss of volume in the cheeks, which cause the skin to “sag”. This happens due to muscle atrophy, fat atrophy, and loss of bone mass.
The basics of anti aging
Regardless if you are struggling with prominent nasolabial folds already. Or if you have just started to see changes in this area of the face. There are some fundamental commitments you need to follow-through in order to slow down the aging of our skin in general.
Let’s briefly mention them before we go over to the more specific advice regarding the droopy cheek and saggy-skin concerns that this article is about.
Use sunscreen every day
The first and most important commitment is to use sunscreen every single day of the year. Yes even on winter days, cloudy days, rainy days, and days when you are mostly inside.
I have a whole article about what sun exposure does to your skin, and why it is so important to use high sun protection. Especially against UVA-radiation.
This is the single most important anti-aging cream to use. And what will have the most effect when it comes to preserving collagen and elastin in your skin. Make sure you read this post if you haven’t already.
Tip: My post about why you need sunscreen every day will give a recap of the most important things to know about sunscreens.
Avoid cigarette smoke like the plague
The second commitment is, obviously, to avoid cigarette smoke. Cigarettes will increase the breakdown of elastin and collagen rapidly and make you look years older. I explain more in my article about the 3 fundamental rules to prevent wrinkles.
Get your beauty sleep
Getting your beauty sleep is of course super important too. And I have an article that covers that subject in great detail here.
In short, you will preserve hyaluronic acid, collagen, elastin, and also boost the production of them with a good night’s sleep. So make your skin a huge favor and prioritize your sleep as much as you can.
To avoid getting deeper nasolabial folds and marionette lines I also suggest you sleep on your back. As mentioned above.
Choose foods wisely
Next, diet does play a big role too, as you may have heard already. Stay away from junk food and increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats (such as avocado, olives, and nuts).
You can read my post about the diet plan that helps tighten the skin to learn more about what to eat and how much.
And I also highly recommend my post about carotenoids. It’s a more in-depth post about the micronutrients that are well researched and proven to increase elasticity in your skin.
Eating carotenoid-rich fruits and veggies will also give you enough vitamin C. Something that is crucial for collagen production.
Use effective skincare products
Lastly, skincare products do matter. I would say the things I have mentioned above are the most crucial for younger-looking skin. But skincare products can make a perceptible difference too. Especially once you have all the other commitments under control. That will give the topical products the most favorable basis to work on.
When it comes to products, I recommend a mild cleanser that protects your skin barrier. But at the same time is effective and doesn’t leave any residues. I have a whole post about my favorite cleanser (from Bioderma) in case you want to check it out.
The other cleansing product I use, also happens to be a toner, and contains some wonderful anti-aging ingredients. You can read more about this micellar water from Filorga here.
During daytime an antioxidant serum is a must. Even though diet will provide the base of antioxidants in your skin. A serum can add extra protection. Especially during sunny days, stressful days, or when you are exposed to lots of pollution.
The one I love and use myself is described in this post. That post will also explain some important things you need to know about vitamin C serums.
At night, I recommend using a serum with retinol. This is an ingredient that many people have a hard time tolerating. Including myself. With my super sensitive skin, I’m actually only able to use the serum described in this post.
If you are sensitive like me I suggest you check it out. Otherwise, any serum with retinol that you like will be a great option.
So there you have the basic advice for anti aging in general. And these are definitely something you must start with if you haven’t already.
But when it comes to nasolabial folds, there are other aspects that need to be addressed on top of this. Especially if you already are bothered by these concerns and really want to see improvement.
So let’s move over to talk about what you need to do in order to get true and natural results with your nasolabial folds.
Best nasolabial folds treatments
So as explained earlier, nasolabial folds (as well as jowls and marionette lines) are caused by a lot more than just loss of collagen. They are even more so caused by loss of volume, especially in the cheeks. Which causes the skin to “sag”.
This happens due to muscle atrophy, fat atrophy, and loss of bone mass.
Some of these matters are harder to avoid and prevent. And some are a bit easier to tackle. Let’s take them on one by one and start with the hardest ones.
To avoid facial fat loss, the most obvious suggestion is to stay away from weight fluctuations. Because when you lose a lot of weight quickly, you can also cause the fat in your face to break down.
You also want to use sunscreen daily since UV radiation seems to increase the breakdown of facial fat.
I also mentioned that some fat pads will start to droop with age. And that weakened ligaments might be one big cause of this. The treatment I will discuss further down (microcurrent) is a great way to help strengthen your ligaments. So stay tuned for that.
Another treatment to help strengthen the ligaments is a so-called facial connective tissue massage. So you can always check your area if you have any good therapists that perform this kind of treatment.
For loss of bone mass, I highly suggest you get enough calcium, vitamin K2, vitamin D, and magnesium. And also (again) avoid too much dieting since that can contribute to accelerated degradation of your bones.
Now let’s move over to the most exciting part of this section. And that is the treatment that not just prevents further loss of volume, by preventing muscle atrophy. But that actually also rebuild volume in your face and tighten your skin long term.
Tip: also see my post about how to treat sunken cheeks (for fuller plumper and more youthful cheeks).
Microcurrent – my favorite nasolabial fold treatment
This is a treatment that I fell in love with about a year ago. It’s an effective and natural way to get younger skin. And my number one suggestion when it comes to nasolabial fold treatment. As well as jowls and marionette lines treatment. Let me explain why.
In short, microcurrent is a mild, safe, and super effective treatment that strengthens your muscles and tightens your skin.
Remember that loss of muscle mass in your face is a huge factor when it comes to aging and sagging skin (one reason why I would never do Botox myself, and this post explains more).
Definitely see my separate post about microcurrent to learn more.
But for now, I will tell you a short version of what it does and how it will help with treating nasolabial folds. And of course what device I recommend to start with.
What is microcurrent?
Microcurrent is a very low-level current that mimics the natural current within our bodies. When used as facial treatments it stimulates and trains our facial muscles. And it gives both immediate and cumulative results for skin toning, lifting, and contouring.
With a microcurrent treatment, your facial muscles are stimulated in a similar way that exercise stimulates the muscles of your body. Meaning your facial muscles will grow stronger and restore volume in the face. And that way counteract the age-related volume-loss that we just discussed.
As mentioned earlier the skin in your face is directly connected to the facial muscles. Meaning this exciting treatment will also improve the tightness of your skin and give you a natural lift.
For treating nasolabial folds, using microcurrent especially on the cheek muscles will lift the skin from the nasolabial area. And soften the appearance of any nasolabial crease.
But there is even more. Microcurrent has also been shown to increase the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which in turn increases the production of both collagen and elastin.
In other words, it does not just work with increasing muscle volume and skin tightening. But also to make the skin smoother and more elastic thanks to the extra production of these skin structural proteins.
So the results will improve even more over time.
Lastly, and I mentioned this briefly in the section above. Microcurrent will also help to strengthen ligaments in your face. And stronger ligaments will keep the facial fat fads in place and prevent them from drooping.
Where do I start with microcurrent?
*Please note, this post contains affiliate links, and I may receive a small commission if you purchase through any of those links. It doesn’t cost you any extra and I only recommend products I truly love and use myself. You can read my full disclosure here.
There are two ways to go. Either you find a salon in your area and do your research about the therapist that provides the treatment.
Another option is to buy your own device and do the treatments at home. And of course, the optimal way to go would be to combine salon treatments with home treatments.
I have tried several home devices and they are all good in different ways.
Both are very simple to use and to carry with you. And just as going to the gym, these facial treatments need to be done consistently.
I have both devices myself. And I started out with the Nuface. I now use my ZIIP a bit more often though (because it has some other features I really love). But for plumping the cheeks I would say they are both as good.
You can see my full comparison of the two in my post ZIIP vs Nuface.
Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions about these devices, and I will answer them all.
Just remember that microcurrent is not a quick fix (even though you do get some immediate effect). The best result comes from using it consistently over time.
The treatments I don’t recommend for nasolabial fold
Now that we’ve talked about the treatments you should perform for these concerns. Let’s briefly mention the treatment options I do not recommend if you want to treat nasolabial folds. And why so.
First out are two common cosmetic procedures that actually can harm your skin in the long run. Next are three other common procedures that can in some ways be beneficial to your skin. But will not help with nasolabial folds.
Treating nasolabial folds with Dermal Fillers
Dermal fillers, and especially the so-called temporary fillers, are heavily marketed as a great treatment option for nasolabial folds. They are either used to increase volume in the cheeks and therefore cause a lifting effect. Or placed directly in the nasolabial area to soften the wrinkle or fold.
Now there are several reasons I do not recommend dermal fillers. Because trying to disguise your nasolabial folds with these cosmetic injections can be very costly in the long run.
Not just due to the price of the injections themselves. But since it also can have a long term aging and damaging effect on your skin. Making the problem even worse.
First of all, fillers can stretch out the skin. Especially when placed in the cheek area. Which will make your skin age faster. Fillers can also interfere with your natural fat pads. Causing more damage.
Secondly, using fillers can make your face (or more specific, your skin) heavier. Which will only worsen the situation over time.
And lastly. The so-called temporary fillers do not disappear after 6-12 months as claimed. Instead they migraine to nearby areas of your face. Causing even more and unwanted changes in your appearance.
I recommend you read this post to learn more.
Dermal fillers can stretch out the skin, especially when placed in the cheek area. Which will make your skin age faster. Fillers can also interfere with your natural fat pads. Causing more damage.
Botox is rarely used for nasolabial folds. But it is used for many other kinds of wrinkles. I do not recommend it to be used at all, since it works by paralyzing muscles. And when used over time that will cause the muscles to atrophy, and lead to volume loss. The big cause for nasolabial folds.
Using botox can also, over time, cause thinning of the skin. Which can accelerate aging even more.
To learn more about the risks and side effects of using botox. And how it can actually make you look older. Read this post.
Treating your skin with laser for skin resurfacing can be an option to consider for improving your skin texture and tone. Which for example is great for treating wrinkles such as crows feet and smokers lines.
But laser treatments will not improve volume loss and they will not do much for sagginess either. In other words, they will not help much with nasolabial folds (especially not deeper ones).
Just as with lasers, micro-needling treatments can help with texture and tone, and a small increased collagen production.
But neither will these treatments help much with improvements of nasolabial folds. Since the root cause is a much more complex situation due to volume loss and loose skin.
Microdermabrasion and other exfoliation treatments are even more superficial than lasers and micro-needling. They can help short term with texture, tone, and pores, but they do nothing to your nasolabial folds.
Summary – 5 steps for treating Nasolabial Folds naturally
And finally, here is the recap of this long post. I shortened it to 5 steps for preventing and treating nasolabial folds naturally.
1) Strengthen the cheek muscles with microcurrent to give a lift and to tighten the skin around the nasolabial area. Microcurrent will also help strengthen ligaments and help keep facial fat pads in place (therefore prevent droopy cheeks).
2) Use sunscreen every single day of the year. UV-damage will cause a rapid breakdown of collagen and elastin. As well as facial fat.
3) Eat foods rich in carotenoids that increase skin elasticity (colorful fruits and vegetables). Foods that promote strong bones (make sure you get enough vitamin D, calcium, vitamin K2, and magnesium). Foods rich in vitamin C. And enough foods to avoid rapid weight loss.
4) Prioritize your sleep but make sure to sleep on your back.
5) Since deepening nasolabial folds are mostly a result of volume loss in the cheek area. Skincare products will only help minimally. Still, using good skincare products can help improve the texture and overall health of your skin. And should be a part of any anti-aging plan. Use at least an antioxidant serum in the morning and a retinol serum in the evening.
There can of course be other natural treatments that might be helpful too. Such as radiofrequency. I have not tried that myself and I don’t feel completely safe with the idea either. Due to many reported side effects. But that is a different story.
For now, I will just continue to use these simple yet brilliant methods I am already doing. I swear by them and you will too if you invest the time and effort that is required.
And as a bonus, they will help with jowls and marionette lines too. Which is what my next blog post is targeting in detail.
I hope you found this post helpful! Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or anything else you want to share regarding nasolabial folds and sagging skin.
Until next time, love your skin!