Facelifts, Smile Lines and You

The human face can be identified by many tell-tell signs when aging starts to take its toll. It’s almost as if the consistent tick-tock of fine lines and subtle spots suddenly gives way to a resounding gong to inform the man or woman behind the face that one has crossed that dreaded threshold to the land “over the hill.” If, however, the person you see in the mirror makes your face seem like an unsuitable facade for the inwardly youthful soul you are, perhaps a facelift is in order after all.

The first sign that a facelift may be able to help you is that you find yourself purchasing magnets, bumper stickers, and T-shirts that say something fun like “Wrinkles Are Lines That Show Where Smiles Have Been.” Despite the unverifiable nature of the oft-quoted mantra of the aging, wishful-thinking crowd, one must wonder if those who purchase items touting such preposterous claims are trying to convince themselves or those around them that what look like signs of aging are really more like trophies awarded for those with happy dispositions.

So-called “smile lines” are formed due to the decreasing number of fat cells that are part of human skin. The deflated skin is drier and thinner, increasing its propensity for creasing and wrinkling. Collagen and elastin, fibers that promote elasticity found in young skin, diminish, reducing its ability to resist the creasing caused by repetitive motions such as squinting and smiling; daily moisturizer can help prevent premature loss of skin’s youthful appearance. Additional contributing factors are harmful UVA and UVB rays, the effects of which can be reduced by wearing sunblock and sunglasses, when appropriate.

As you may notice, wrinkles seem to appear earlier in women than in men. While the fairer gender may well smile more than its masculine counterpart, smiling isn’t really the reason for the disparity. Instead, women’s skin tends to be more delicate, allowing fine lines and wrinkles to be more easily noticed than they are on men, who incidentally seem less bothered by the more “distinguished” appearance wrinkles and graying hair tend to bring.

The top offender in the “smile lines” category are those dreaded “crow’s feet.” These lines begin at the outside corners of the eyes, fanning outward toward the temples. Slightly less offending are the parentheses that form between the nostrils and the chin; these lesser-known creases are called nasolabial folds. The third category of smile lines consists of horizontal creases that form under the lower eyelid. All three zones have something in common: They rarely elicit smiles from their owners.

Instead of buying more paraphernalia that encourages you to tout your “smile lines,” you can eliminate them altogether by getting a facelift. In the end, that procedure will have you smiling more than ever, even when you look into your former nemesis: the mirror.

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