How to Reduce Smile Lines without Surgery

Smile lines, also known as laugh lines, are a natural part of aging, but most people don’t like having fine lines and wrinkles around their mouth and eyes broadcasting their age, especially when they feel young at heart. And most people also don’t want to undergo a painful surgery with lots of downtime to recover the look of their youth. The good news is, you don’t have to — there are numerous other options available.

Here at Utopia Med Spa in Houston, Texas, renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Franklin Rose offers up a wide range of alternatives to face-lift surgery. From neurotoxins to dermal fillers to microneedling and PRP, he can help you achieve the smooth, toned look you want without the pain or cost of going under the knife.

What are smile lines, and why do they happen?

Smile lines are vertical lines that extend from the sides of the nose and around the mouth; sometimes they can extend as far down as the chin. These lines are subdivided into two categories: the nasolabial crease and the nasolabial fold. The crease runs between the upper lip and the cheek, while the fold is the tissue that hangs over the crease.

Some people have smile lines from a young age, but the deeper creases form with increased age, weight gain, smoking, a loss of collagen, and dental problems (when the teeth no longer support the overlying tissue).

Smile lines can also include creases around the eyes, as the skin moves each time we smile. After years of smiling, and with the loss of underlying tissue, permanent creases form.

What nonsurgical options are available to treat smile lines?

There are a number of different nonsurgical options to reduce the appearance of smile lines, including:

OTC creams

You can buy anti-wrinkle creams in any pharmacy, most of which contain retinol, which is said to break down the free radicals that lead to wrinkles. A study published in the Archives of Dermatology reported significant positive results in patients who used 0.4% retinol lotion three times a week for six months.

While the cost is certainly within reason, the downside to creams is they can take months to work, and they don’t produce permanent results. They also have side effects that include redness, burning, and rashes.


Made from the same bacterium that causes food poisoning, botulinum toxin products such as Botox® and Dysport® were first FDA approved for cosmetic purposes in April 2002 and have become the most widely used nonsurgical wrinkle treatments in the United States today. According to Newsweek magazine, more than 1.5 million people were treated with Botox in just the last year.

When injected into muscles, Botox and Dysport temporarily paralyze them and prevent them from contracting. Since contractions lead to skin wrinkling, without contractions, the area above the muscle relaxes and appears smoother. The injections take effect within a week and last about three months, at which time you need to get another shot to maintain your appearance.

Dermal fillers

Dermal fillers plump up sagging and lined skin to create a smoother appearance. Many, such as Juvéderm® and Restylane®, are made from hyaluronic acid, a substance naturally produced in your body. Hyaluronic acid, therefore, restores lost volume in a very natural-looking way. It can also define and sculpt features as needed. Juvéderm has a variety of formulations, each intended for specific lines and wrinkles. We inject the fillers at the nasolabial crease to help erase smile lines, and the effects are noticeable within minutes.

Microneedling and platelet-rich plasma (PRP)

Microneedling uses fine needles to create microscopic injuries in your skin, which triggers collagen and elastin production in the subdermal cells. These proteins are what tone and firm up your skin, adding youthful volume. 

Although microneedling is a powerful treatment on its own, you can increase the benefits by adding platelet-rich plasma (PRP). The doctor takes a blood sample from your arm and processes it to isolate the platelets, the cells that contain numerous growth factors. These growth factors, when applied with microneedling, further support collagen production and skin repair.

At Utopia Med Spa, we also offer microchanneling, a variation of microneedling with PRP that uses thinner-than-usual needles. Not only do we enhance skin repair and healing with PRP, but we also add a neuromodulator like Botox or Dysport and a dermal filler like Restylane or Juvéderm. It gives you an all-in-one treatment with almost immediate results.

Are your smile lines not making you smile? We can help. Contact Utopia Med Spa by calling 713-622-2277 or send us a message online to schedule a consultation today.