How to Treat & Prevent Marionette Lines on the Corners of the Mouth

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Also known as laugh lines or, to put it technically, nasolabial folds, marionette lines are, just like other facial wrinkles, extremely frustrating to deal with. They may initially show up as faint fine lines, but they’ll quickly deepen, leaving your face looking much older than its years and giving you that dreaded RBF. Don’t worry. It’s not all doom and gloom – here’s what you need to do to treat existing marionette lines while preventing new ones from forming.

What are Marionette Lines?

Woman is touching her face before plastic surgery

Marionette lines are facial wrinkles that run vertically down from the corners of the mouth to the sides of the chin. They’re named after traditional marionette puppets that were designed with split jaws so that puppeteers could get them to “talk.”

What Causes Marionette Lines?

Although wrinkles are an inevitable part of the skin aging process, there are a few extra factors that can really enhance laugh lines.

The Loss of Collagen and Elastin

Collagen and elastin are key proteins when it comes to skin elasticity, firmness, and volume. As these protein levels decline, the skin takes on a looser and saggier appearance, leading to lines and wrinkles. While the aging process is one reason for this loss of collagen, everything from sun exposure to poor dietary choices can exacerbate the degradation of these proteins in the skin.

The Depressor Anguli Oris Muscle

Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of this one – not many people have! The depressor anguli oris is a pair of muscles that sit on either side of the mouth. When this muscle is overactive, marionette lines form in this area at a much faster rate.

Genetic Predisposition

women in the family beauty in the genes

Although the connection is still not fully understood by experts, genetics play a huge role in how your skin ages. Some people simply have a genetic predisposition to developing marionette lines that are significantly more noticeable. If this is the case for you, prevention is still important, but treatments will be more effective.

How to Prevent Marionette Lines from Forming

Even if you’ve already developed deep smile lines and are on the search for a treatment to get rid of them, the following preventative tips are still worth following. Not only will they prevent your existing wrinkles from worsening, but they’ll also help to keep your face wrinkle-free once you’ve managed to eradicate the creases that you’re currently dealing with.

Sun Protection

As mentioned, sun exposure plays a key role in the loss of skin proteins. The more cumulative sun exposure you receive over the years, the faster you’ll develop lines and wrinkles around your mouth and chin, as well as on other parts of your skin.

pretty sexy girl under the sun during summer

This makes sun protection a must – make sure that your face is always covered with an SPF30 product. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat on sunny days can provide extra protection too. It would also be wise to try to stay out of the sun during the hottest hours of the day.

Sleep on Your Back

Do you sleep on your side, your front, or your back? It turns out that front and side sleepers develop wrinkles at a much faster rate than those who sleep on their back. This is because of how the skin rubs against the pillow throughout the night – all of that friction leads to the formation of facial wrinkles in that area.

The solution is simple – start sleeping on your back! You may need to place some pillows around you, to begin with, to prevent you from rolling over in the middle of the night.

Stop Smoking

young woman smoking a cigarette

It’s no secret that smoking causes a number of different health issues, but your tobacco habit could also be the reason behind your marionette lines.

Not only do cigarette chemicals destroy the proteins in the skin, but the repeated pursing action that you make with your lips to take each puff also deepens any creases in that area. If you’re ready to quit the habit, there are many treatment options out there that can help to reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

Weight Loss Management

Fluctuations in your weight can cause sagging skin, not only on your body but on your face too. In fact, when this occurs underneath the jawline, it makes marionette lines so much worse.

Plus, weight fluctuations aren’t good for your health either. Weight loss should always be done gradually and carefully, with regular advice from your doctor.

Stay Hydrated

young woman drinking water after workout outdoors

To begin with, wrinkles, including marionette lines, are so much more noticeable on dry or dehydrated skin. A loss of moisture in skin cells also prevents them from functioning properly, meaning that wrinkles and the loss of skin elasticity occur at a much faster rate.

Firstly, make sure that you’re staying internally hydrated. Drink plenty of water and consume more water-rich foods. Try to also cut back on dehydrating foods, such as sugar, salt, caffeine, and alcohol. Then, turn your attention to topical hydration, which brings us to our next point…

Establish a Consistent Skin Care Routine

As your skin ages, it needs a little extra help. A preventative skincare routine will help to keep your skin looking younger, smoother, and tighter for longer.  This doesn’t need to be anything complicated, but important steps include:

  • Cleansing and applying a hydrating toner
  • Applying an antiaging serum (see below for more details on key ingredients)
  • Slathering on a hydrating moisturizer, making sure that the formula you’re using has been designed for your skin type

Don’t forget to top this off with sunscreen during the day!

The Best Treatments and Solutions for Marionette Lines

Whether your marionette lines are still light and subtle, or you’re dealing with deeper and more ridged creases, you’re probably eager to know some of your marionette lines treatment options. To save you from having to search through the internet for hours, we’ve listed the most effective treatments below:

business woman holding coffee and smiling at her office

Anti-Aging Serums

Serums are the best way to go when it comes to delivering active ingredients into the deeper layers of your skin. When it comes to having to search through the array of different serum options out there, the ingredients that you want to be seeing at the top of ingredient lists are:

  • Hyaluronic acid for its incredibly hydrating and skin-plumping properties
  • Retinol for its proven ability to reduce the depth and visibility of wrinkles
  • Vitamin C for its antioxidant and anti-aging properties

Feel free to add two or three serums to your skin care routine. Antioxidants work even better when combined!

Dermal Fillers

Although their results are temporary, dermal fillers plump up the skin from within. They mimic how the skin’s elastin and collagen fibers would act, leading to a tighter and smoother appearance.

Hyaluronic acid fillers are the best option for marionette lines. Not only does this filler procedure provide instant results that last for at least six months, but the hyaluronic acid also helps to speed up natural collagen production in the long term.  Radiesse is another popular choice, with the effects of this injectable lasting for up to two years.

botox injection

While Botox may be the go-to wrinkle treatment option for many, dermal fillers are usually a more effective treatment. That being said, combining both Botox and a filler could give you even better results, especially if you know that your marionette lines have been caused by overactive facial muscles. Botox helps to relax those muscles, while the filler provides its plumping effect.

Laser Resurfacing Treatments

Laser treatments tighten the skin from within, using their heat and light to stimulate natural collagen production for long-term benefits. There are several different types of laser treatments out there, with laser resurfacing being one of the most popular.

However, while not as invasive as surgery, laser procedures are still considered to be quite an invasive way to deal with marionette lines. Speak to your dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon for advice if this is something that you’re considering.

Microneedling Treatments

Microneedling is a procedure that creates micro-punctures on the surface of the skin. This stimulates the skin healing process, along with collagen production. Several sessions are needed for deeper changes, but this is a great way to thicken the skin, boost facial volume, and reduce the appearance of marionette lines.

microneedling procedure in a derma clinic

For even better results, ask your dermatologist about combining a micro-needling treatment with growth factor gels. These enhance skin healing and strengthening even more.

While at-home micro-needling tools are available, professional treatments tend to be much more effective, since the tools used are more advanced.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels make use of acids to remove the top layer of skin on the face. Peels are available in various strengths, but all help to minimize the visibility of wrinkles. The formulas used in chemical peels also encourage the production of stronger and healthier skin cells, which benefits your skin in the long run. That being said, patients find that they need to have a chemical peel treatment once a month in order to maintain results.

Facelift Surgery

face lifting modern procedure at the cosmetology salon

Although it may be invasive, surgery is your only option if you’re looking for a permanent marionette lines treatment. A facelift surgery, officially known as a rhytidectomy, is what’s usually recommended. However, this procedure is considered to be a major surgery – don’t go down this route until you’ve tried all of the other above-mentioned treatments.

Facelift surgery works by removing unwanted pockets of fat and pushing up the tissues that give your face its structure and volume. This then smooths away nasolabial folds, leaving you with a tighter and more youthful appearance.

While a full facelift surgery will tackle all of the wrinkles on your face, your surgeon may recommend a mini facelift if you’re looking to focus on just your marionette lines.

Keep in mind that in order to be a good candidate for facelift surgery, you’ll need to be generally healthy overall.

FAQs

Will losing weight help marionette lines?

Losing weight, especially if the weight loss was quite dramatic, can actually make marionette lines worse.

At what age do marionette lines appear?

Marionette lines commonly start to appear on the face once a person hits their 40’s. However, some have noticed them as early on as their 20’s – it all depends on your skin, your lifestyle, and your rate of aging.

What is the best treatment for marionette lines?

There are several to choose from, but fillers are usually the most effective temporary treatment for marionette lines. If you’re on the search for permanent results, then surgery is the only option.

Conclusion

While a solid skincare routine and positive lifestyle choices will go a long way in preventing marionette lines from developing, just about everyone will end up experiencing these dreaded wrinkles at some point in their lives. Fortunately, there are now so many different treatments out there for facial lines, marionette wrinkles, and sagging skin on the face – whether you go for a temporary solution or something more permanent, you could soon have the skin of your dreams once again.

About the author

Courtney Randle

As someone who had problems with her skin in the past, I’m glad I can help people find what works for there's. All products reviewed are thoroughly tested for quality.