Nasolabial Fold: The What, Why, and How

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Cosmetic problems are skin concerns that are not particularly harmful to one’s health but can affect your look and self-esteem. One of such concerns is the nasolabial fold which is also known as smile lines.

If you have these folds, it’s easy to find yourself trying to get the lines to go away. However, your plans to get rid of the folds should not be from a point of fear because these folds are completely harmless.

As mentioned earlier, nasolabial folds are also known as smile lines, and they are more prominent when you smile.

Ahead, this article explains these facial features, why they appear on your skin, and how you can get them off your face if their presence on your face makes you uncomfortable.

What Is Nasolabial Fold?

Nasolabial folds are deep lines that are naturally present on the sides of the nose and run down to the sides of the mouth.

These folds or lines become deeper as you age, and some people find it difficult to embrace them, even though they are not a cause for alarm.

As natural facial features, everyone (except newborns, of course) has them. These features can gain prominence as early as your twenties.

As you progress in age, your skin begins to thin and lose mass. These signs of aging are accompanied by more indented lines around your nose and mouth.

Nasolabial folds give your face a different look. They can make your face look more serious or dull. The deep lines make the cheeks look separate from your upper lips.

What Are the Causes of Nasolabial Fold?

1. Genetics

The genes are a vehicle for transferring physical characteristics from parents to offspring. Although nasolabial folds are naturally present on the face, the deep lines or early prominence are also handed down from parents to their children.

This means that, if you have parents who had deep nasolabial folds, you’re most likely going to have them at some point in your life.

2. Loss of collagen

Aging comes with a loss of collagen, the protein responsible for keeping the skin firm and elastic. When collagen levels drop, the skin becomes thinner and weaker. As a result, signs of aging begin to set in. And nasolabial folds are also signs of aging.

3. Lifestyle habits like smoking

Smoking also contributes to collagen degradation and consequent loss of skin elasticity. When the skin loses its elasticity, it becomes saggy and wrinkled.

The wrinkles are formed around the forehead and the mouth area. These wrinkles deepen the folds and make them even more pronounced.

4. Excessive weight loss

Rapid weight loss is another reason why people develop nasolabial folds early and all of a sudden. Weight loss can either be a result of aging, illness, or an intentional diet plan.

Regardless of how it happens, your face loses the facial fat that makes it taut and firm. Consequently, your skin becomes saggy and these folds begin to appear.

5. Exposure to sunlight

Prolonged exposure to sunlight can speed up the rate of collagen breakdown and damage skin cells. The harsh UV rays cause the formation of free radicals which can make your skin age prematurely.

The signs of aging also manifest with nasolabial folds. The skin loses its elasticity and deep lines and wrinkles begin to form around the cheeks and lips.

6. Exposure to chemical irritants

Chemical irritants from your environment can be toxic to your skin and cause it to age prematurely. As a result, you begin to see the naturally present nasolabial folds get deeper and more prominent.

Another source of chemical irritants is the beauty products you apply to your skin every day. Using too many products or always switching products can expose your skin to these chemicals.

The chemicals make your skin thin out and lose its firmness. Then, nasolabial folds take over.

Treatment Options for Nasolabial Fold

1. Medical Treatment Options

There is a list of available medical options that can help reduce the appearance of nasolabial folds on your face. If you’ll like to treat the folds on your face, you should do so with the guidance of an expert.

Dermal fillers

Dermal fillers employ using injections to get rid of the nasolabial fold. Most dermal fillers contain hyaluronic acid, the active ingredient that helps to plump the skin. The fillers are injected into the skin around areas where the lines are, the cheek.

The filler fills the deep lines and improves the appearance of the folds. However, they are not a permanent cure for nasolabial folds.

Laser skin resurfacing

Laser skin resurfacing is a medical procedure dermatologists use to remove facial wrinkles. Moreover, it makes the skin look younger and appear tauter. This procedure also helps to reduce the appearance of nasolabial folds; it does not remove them permanently.

Surgical removal of the folds

A surgical process like subcision or excision can also help with nasolabial folds. The effects of any of these processes are quite dramatic on the face. The processes restructure and reshape the skin around the affected area.

Some risks come with this option, and they include infections, bruising, longer recovery time, and no insurance. Over time, as you age, the facial alterations will begin to need another reshaping because you cannot completely defy nature.

Skin tightening

The skin tightening option is great for folds that are a result of rapid weight loss or any other factor that made the skin sag. A fractional radiofrequency device uses fine needles to deliver radiofrequency energy to your skin and stimulate collagen synthesis.

However, this method should be supported with other treatment options like dermal fillers to see commendable results.

2. Nasolabial Folds Exercise

Smile lines can improve by exercising the skin around the folds. These exercises don’t take so much time nor are they stressful. They help to remold the skin around your cheeks and upper lips.

Holding your lips in a pout, puckering, and pulling at the corners of your mouth are some exercises you can practice. You can stay put in any of these positions for some seconds and repeat. With daily practice, the folds should look better.

Can You Prevent Nasolabial Fold?

No, you cannot prevent having nasolabial folds because they are a natural part of the face. However, you may be able to control how deep the lines become.

Lifestyle habits like smoking, using products that contain too many heavy chemicals, and prolonged exposure to sunlight can be amended to reduce the risk of developing these folds.

Also, experts recommend that you use moisturizers that contain antioxidants like vitamin C and retinol. These products can help to prevent the degradation of collagen and elastin thereby preventing saggy skin and the consequent development of deep nasolabial folds.


Does losing weight get rid of the nasolabial fold?

No, it will not. On the contrary, losing weight can make your skin develop nasolabial folds. Facial fat, when in moderation, keeps facial skin plump and taut. Sometimes, weight loss makes a person look older than they are supposed to look.

Is nasolabial fold unattractive?

Nasolabial folds are not completely unattractive; they only make you look older than you are. These folds also give you a facial expression you may not be making. If they are a source of concern to you and your self-esteem, then, you should look for a solution.

Does nasolabial fold go away permanently?

No, they do not. Nasolabial folds are natural facial features. No treatment has effectively gotten rid of them permanently. Treatments and home remedies can only help reduce their prominence but cannot eliminate them.

Can gua sha help nasolabial fold?

Yes, it can. A gua sha massage can help reduce the prominence of nasolabial folds. You can carry out a gua sha massage yourself at home or go for a session in a spa or salon. The tool glides across your face and plumps your skin, reducing the depths of the folds.


Nasolabial folds do not in any way connote a medical condition or any cause for concern. They are a natural part of the human body but in some people and due to certain conditions, they are more prominent than normal.

It poses nothing more than a cosmetic concern. Some people are however uncomfortable with these features on their faces. If nasolabial folds on your face give you so much concern, it is okay to seek medical counsel and treatment.

You can also carry out some of the exercises that can help improve the appearance of these folds.

Thanks for reading.

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