Laugh lines, frown lines, crows feet, glabellar lines — they are all facial wrinkles that are common to both men and women. Women, unfortunately, tend to get more and deeper wrinkles around the mouth than men do, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. A wide variety of products claims to reduce the appearance of wrinkles visibly, but the effectiveness of over-the-counter medications is limited, due to the minimal amounts of active ingredients. Effective wrinkle treatment usually requires a prescription.
Most wrinkles are a normal result of the aging process. The underlying deep skin fat breaks down with age, leaving the outer layers of skin loose. The sebaceous glands produce less skin oil and the layers of the skin begin to thin out. Ordinary facial expressions that are repeated day after day, year after year, result in muscle memory that can leave permanent creases around the mouth, nose and eyes. These wrinkles can be exacerbated by outside factors, like smoking, and exposure to the sun or artificial ultraviolet radiation, such as tanning booths.
Little can be done to stop the development of wrinkles associated with aging, but certain lifestyle changes may help your skin retain its youthful appearance for a longer period of time. Ultraviolet radiation can age the skin prematurely and lead to more pronounced wrinkles, so limit the amount of time you spend in the sun. Protect your skin with sunscreen and moisturizers. Smoking has a multitude of detrimental health effects, including contributing to wrinkles. Quitting smoking, regardless of your age or how long you have smoked, can improve the appearance of your skin.
A number of prescription-only medications and procedures can have a positive effect on wrinkles. Prescription-strength creams containing retinoic acid, a derivative of vitamin A, can produce improved appearance of fine-line wrinkles when used over a period of several months. Retinoic acid is not effective for treating deep wrinkles. Excess amounts of vitamin A may be linked to certain birth defects, so products containing retinoic acid are not recommended for pregnant women.
Hyaluronic acid is a prescription dermal filler that can be injected by a doctor to help improve the appearance of the wrinkles between the mouth and nose known as the nasolabial fold. This substance is marketed under numerous brand names and is used for a variety of medical purposes in addition to treating wrinkles. Hyaluronic acid is injected directly into the wrinkle. Deep wrinkles may require multiple injections. There is little down time associated with hyaluronic acid treatments, and most people can tolerate it quite well.
Botulinum toxin, frequently marketed under the brand name of Botox Cosmetic, is a prescription medication used to treat a variety of facial wrinkles, including forehead wrinkles, crows feet around the eyes, and lines around the mouth and lips. Botulinum toxin is an injectable prescription medication that works by blocking neurological signals that cause specific muscles to contract. The relaxed muscles diminish the appearance of the wrinkles. Botulinum toxin is considered safe when administered by a trained physician, although certain side effects can occur, including redness, bruising or pain at the injection site, nausea and headache.