The nasolabial folds, and what to do about them

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One of the area’s that we most commonly get asked to improve or remove altogether is the nasolabial fold, which is the line that runs from the corner of your nose to the corner of your mouth that becomes exaggerated when you smile.   We all agree that when this line becomes too deep it can age a face and give it the impression of sagging as it draws the eye downwards. Luckily this can be easily remedied using non-surgical aesthetics, but there are at least 3 different methods to do this and the correct one needs to be chosen according to the reason this line has become more prominent or bothersome. 

The first and most obvious way to eliminate this fold is to fill it directly using a deep filler under the fold itself to raise the skin and smooth the area. This is usually the treatment of choice in younger faces that still have good volume and who only need a subtle alteration. You can expect this filler to last between 9 months and a year on average, although this differs from patient to patient depending on your metabolism of the filler and on the way you move your mouth – anything between 6 and 18 months is possible.

The danger of using this method in a patient who is suffering from volume loss or sagging is that in order to put enough filler in the area to make a significant difference, the filler can thicken the upper lip or flatten the face. This gives a very masculine look to a female face, and can even start to look a tad simian, which is certainly not a look we’ve ever been asked to create.

The second method of improving these lines is in a face that has lost cheek volume. We all lose facial fat over the years, some of us as early as in our late 20’s or early 30’s. As we get even older this volume loss is compounded by bony changes that happen with agin, as well as sagging of our skin and a general decline in our skin quality. In this patient the first thing too address would be cheek volume. By using a volumizing filler in the cheek area the patient will notice that the nasolabial lines decrease subtly because of the tenting of the skin over the newly created volume in the cheek. This not only improves the nasolabial area, but also makes the whole face appear rejuvenated. This treatment is one of our favourite to do, it looks great on almost anybody, and is a very subtle yet extremely rewarding area to use fillers.

The third method of improving the nasolabial area is in those patient’s whose nasolabial fold has deepened due to sagging of their skin as well as volume loss. In these patients a procedure like Silhouette Soft would give the most rewarding result. These dissolving barbed threads are placed under the skin at strategic points to lift skin without any cutting or downtime. To lift the nasolabial lines the thread would be placed going from the hairline just above the ear down onto the cheek in a V-pattern to lift the skin on the cheek and thus pull the skin taughter over the cheek and soften the nasolabial fold. The procedure takes under 30minutes and is done using a little bit of injected local anaesthetic. The result is immediately visible, but then improves over the 4 months following the procedure when it plateaus. The threads dissolve over time, and by 18 months after insertion they are completely gone, but the collagen that they stimulated remains, meaning you can expect improved skin quality and less sagging despite the threads no longer being there. This procedure can be repeated at any time and in trained hands has very few complications.

Any combination of these 3 procedures may be adopted to improve your nasolabial folds if one of them is not enough to get the result you desire. Indeed using more than one method will probably give you a more subtle result, rather than overkilling one method and having it look obvious that you’ve been filled too much or pulled too tight.

As with all cosmedic/medical aesthetic procedures it’s always important to use a doctor (not a beauty therapist or aesthetic enthusiast, a medical doctor) who you trust, and who is clear that they know what you want and have a good plan for how to achieve it. Beware of doctors who promise you the world since injectables are not plastic surgery and cannot give you the same result. If what you actually need is a facelift your doctor should tell you so rather than trying to create a facelift using non-surgical techniques: this always looks bad.

The nasolabials are such a common sore point for our patients, and they really are so simple to improve! If you have a nasolabial problem you can make a booking for consultation by calling (021) 6833048 extension 1, or by emailing us on info@capeaesthetics.co.za. To find out more about what we offer visit our website at www.capeaesthetic.co.za.

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