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How to prevent and treat 'nasolabial folds'

how to treat and prevent nasolabial folds
How to prevent and treat nasolabial foldsGetty Images

For many of us, the delicate eye area or dynamic forehead are key areas that show signs of ageing. For others, nasolabial folds – the lines that run from the nose to the mouth – are a common concern. Of course, all such facial wrinkles result as a wholly normal part of ageing, but should the appearance of nasolabial folds bother you, expert say you can prevent and reduce them.

“Nasolabial lines become more obvious as we age,” confirms Dr Johanna Ward, an award-winning cosmetic doctor based at Cosmetic Skin Clinic. She explains that they form due to a complex interplay of a reduction in skin quality and facial fat pads, alongside skeletal changes in the face. The result? Less facial volume, meaning indentations – such as these ­– appear more obvious.

“There a few things that you can do to minimise their appearance,” Dr Ward says, though as with most skin-related issues there is no magic fix, rather a multi-pronged approach is recommended. Here, she, alongside A-list facialist and skincare specialist Fatma Shaheen, explain some smart ways to prevent and treat nasolabial folds – from the way you sleep to the tweakments you might want to try.

How to prevent and minimise the appearance of nasolabial folds

1) Lifestyle changes: sun protection, sleeping positions and diet

“Firstly, I would advise the use of a daily sun protector,” says Dr Ward. “UV radiation damages our skin, destroys collagen and elastin, and ages the skin in an accelerated way. Protecting your skin every day is the best thing you can do to prevent premature ageing.”

Secondly, address your diet. “Eating a healthy plant-centred diet will provide the nutrients and building blocks for healthy skin as you age,” continues Dr Ward. “This should be a priority to ensure the health and vitality of your entire body and skin.”

And thirdly, something you might not have considered: “Try and sleep on your back,” advises Shaheen, “as sleeping on your side increases pressure on the delicate skin on your face”. Not only annecdotal, the influence of sleeping positions on the formation of facial wrinkles is well-researched, and the consensus is that sleeping on your back is ideal. But if you struggle to do so, specialist pillows like those by Sleep & Glow are there to help. Doctor-endorsed, the brand’s Aula pillow promotes back sleeping, while the Omnia cradles your face in side-sleeping positions, reducing contact between the face and pillow.

2) Skincare: products and facial massage

Regardless of your sleeping position, “in the morning, practise mini facelift movements with massage,” advises Shaheen, “focusing on lifting the nasolabial folds using both upwards and sidewards motions”. This can be done with your hands while you cleanse, or with the use of a simple tool like a gua sha – using the side of the stone to manipulate the facial structure – atop some face oil for slip.

Besides daily SPF, other products can help. “To minimise the appearance of nasolabial folds, as well as focusing on restoring volume loss with treatments, bring in high-quality skincare,” says Shaheen, who curated Skin Design London. “Volume Serum is the number one product I tell my clients to use who are concerned about nasolabial folds, which I advise they use around the mouth area. Its amnio-acid derivative fills wrinkles with high molecular weight proteins that help to uplift the skin and assist in tightening for long-term sustained efficacy.”

3) Professional skin treatments: from radiofrequency to ultrasound

If the above measures are not enough, “then skin-tightening treatments like radiofrequency or microneedling can be effective for mild lines and skin sagging,” says Dr Ward. “They work by creating a collagen renewal process in the skin. This strengthens the skin, lifts and tightens it, making it look healthier.”

This is central to the work Shaheen does in her advanced facial treatments. “Possibly the most important step in both preventing, and treating nasolabial folds, is to work on the overall texture of your skin – something that has always been paramount in my approach when treating skin,” she says. “I focus on incorporating HIFU (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound) and radiofrequency to create a natural, but intense lift.” Her treatment, the SDL FaceLift, works on the three areas of the face to create a lift overall, including the cheeks which, in turn, smooths the nasolabial folds.

4) Dermal fillers and polynucleotides: injections in the cheeks or nasolabial lines directly

Dermal fillers can also be injected into the nasolabial lines to soften them directly,” Dr Ward confirms. “This involves a series of tiny injections of hyaluronic acid into the skin to support, lift and improve the nasolabial line.”

Alternatively – or in addition – “we can also inject dermal fillers in the cheek area and in front of the ear to correct for the global volume loss that tends to exacerbate the nasolabial lines,” she adds. However, this comes with a caution: if you don’t actually need any more volume in the cheek area, this may leave you looking unnatural despite minimising your nasolabial folds. Researching your provider is key: “A skilled practitioner will be able to create a strategy of very precise and targeted filler injections to minimise the appearance of these lines and to naturally help re-volumise the face in an age-appropriate way,” Dr Ward says.

Another injectable option you could explore is polynucleotides. Unlike filler, this offers more of a preventative approach. “Polynucleotides boost collagen and elastin by up-regulating the fibroblast cells, as well as improving tissue regeneration and restoring skin tone and elasticity,” Dr Ashwin Soni, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon explains. “It has an antioxidant and hydrating effect in addition to the bio-remodelling, therefore resulting in skin that looks and feels healthier,” he continues.

As Shaheen concludes, “it's important to remember that treating nasolabial folds shouldn’t take a one-size-fits-all approach, instead work with a professional that will create a unique treatment plan for you”.

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