Smile Lines on Face – How to Remove and Prevent

Dr. Michael Menachof Headshot

Dr. Menachof, MD, FACS has performed thousands of facial plastic surgery procedures in over 20 years of experience. He has been recognized as a Fellow by multiple academies, named one of America’s Top Facial Plastic Surgeons continually since 2003 and is featured in multiple national publications.

Girl Looking in Mirror after Facelift

Smile lines are the wrinkles, lines or creases in the skin that start at the side of the nose, and run down to the corner of the mouth. The technical term is nasolabial folds, but they are most commonly known as smile or laugh lines.

For most people, these nasolabial folds are nothing to smile about. The lines can be visible on the face even when someone is not smiling, but they are most pronounced when someone smiles or laughs. Deep nasolabial folds can make you seem older, tired or unhappy, even though you are none of these things!

Smile Lines on Face

How are Smile Lines Caused?

The most common cause of smile lines is the repetition of facial movements. Every time you use a facial muscle, even to frown, smile, squint, laugh or raise your eyebrows, a tiny groove forms beneath the surface of the skin, and the more the face moves, the deeper and more pronounced the groove gets. No, we are not recommending you NOT smile in order to prevent smile lines! And we are not saying that those lines are unavoidable. Just don’t engage in so-called face exercises for smile lines – they will not help get rid of the creases, and will only deepen the nasolabial folds.

Other potential causes include age, sun exposure, dehydrated skin, genetics or smoking tobacco. As we age, we lose facial volume and skin elasticity, which causes wrinkles in the skin. UV light breaks down the proteins that support the layers of the skin – collagen and elastin. As they break down, your skin begins to sag inward, creating smile lines. The toxic chemicals from smoking cigarettes and pipes are concentrated around the mouth and also cause extreme damage to the skin around it.

Smile lines can appear on their own, but they are often accompanied by marionette lines and face jowls too as the skin loses its elasticity. Some of the treatments below, including the facelift, are options that can address these other skin wrinkles in addition to reducing nasolabial folds.

How to Get Rid of Nasolabial Folds

So, how can you remove smile lines from the face? What is the best way to get rid of nasolabial folds permanently? It depends. There are a variety of treatment options available – surgical and non-surgical. Talk with your doctor, dermatologist or surgeon to see what specific procedures or remedies they specifically recommend for you to remove or reduce nasolabial folds.

Nasolabial Folds Treatment:

Injectable Fillers

These fillers are injected around the creases, and work to plump or boost the skin, diminishing the appearance of smile lines. The effects of injectable fillers are noticeable right away, and each treatment typically lasts for six to twelve months. The results of these fillers can be reversed if you don’t like them.


Botulinum toxins are technically injectable fillers, but they work in a different way. Botox weakens the muscles in a given area, which makes lines and wrinkles less noticeable. The results of this treatment for nasolabial folds are visible a few days after the procedure, and to maintain the desired results, the patient will need this treatment every few months. The price of Botox depends on how many units the doctor uses.


smile lines

A facelift for nasolabial folds is a more permanent solution. This surgery pulls the sagging skin on the cheeks upward, lessening smile lines. If you are researching how to get rid of nasolabial folds permanently…this is your answer. While there are other ways to reduce nasolabial folds, a facelift guarantees long-term results without repeat visits for treatment. Consulting with a surgeon or specialist is the best way to see if a facelift to remove nasolabial folds is the right option for you.

Laser Treatments

This nasolabial folds treatment removes the top layer of skin cells, revealing the lower layer of skin and decreasing wrinkles. To maintain desired results, these treatments occur every few months.

What You Can Do Today

Here are a few things you can do today to begin preventing or treating your smile lines. Your skin will thank you!

  • Quit smoking. You know the damage smoking can cause, so quit as soon as possible.
  • Drink enough water. Skin is one of the last organs to receive hydration from the water you drink – consume enough water every day for your skin to stay hydrated.
  • Apply sunscreen. SPF 30 or 45 is the best – apply before leaving the house and every two hours after.
  • Eat a healthy diet. A healthy diet rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins builds strong bones and healthy skin tissue.
  • Sleep. Adults should get a minimum of six to eight hours of sleep every night. Get to bed early so you can reduce smile lines and look and feel your best.

You may be wondering about the best face exercise for smile lines – no need to move your face more than you already are. Consult your doctor about your concerns so they can do an in-person evaluation to determine what nasolabial folds treatment is right for you.


This blog was originally posted in January of 2018 and has been reposted in 2020 with updated information.

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