Crow’s Feet: Prevention, and Treatment Options For Laugh Lines
What Are Crow’s Feet?
Crow’s feet, technically called orbicularis oculi contractions (but sometimes also referred to as laugh lines or character lines), are clusters of wrinkles and lines that spread out from the outer corners of the eyes. At times these wrinkles can look like foot prints from a crow, hence the name.
Crow’s feet are an inevitable sign of facial aging that typically begin to form as tiny lines in a person’s mid-twenties. Over time, these fine lines begin to deepen into more pronounced wrinkles or folds that are visible even when a person is expressionless.
What Causes Crows’ Feet?
Crow’s feet are considered expression wrinkles as they form after years of facial muscle contractions while performing various everyday facial expressions like smiling, squinting, or frowning. During our younger years when the skin has more elasticity, crow’s feet often only appear while during the actual muscle contraction. This is because the skin is better able to “snap back” into its proper place once the contractions ceases.
With natural aging, however, the skin begins to lose its elasticity resulting in the static appearance of crow’s feet. The decline in collagen and other skin proteins also makes crow’s feet lines appear deeper and more prominent.
Crow’s Feet Prevention
While completely preventing crow’s feet is not possible, there are a few ways to slow their rate of development and limit their overall appearance:
Sun Protection: Protect your skin from UV rays by using a high SPF broad spectrum sunscreen, avoiding tanning beds, and staying out of the sun during peak UV hours. UV overexposure is one of the main contributors to early onset aging and elasticity losses.
Sunglasses: Wearing polarized sunglasses can protect the delicate skin around the eyes and prevent excessive squinting.
Skin Care Regimen: Keep your skin looking and feeling its best by following a sound daily skin care regimen. We encourage patients to properly cleanse the skin, use a daily moisturizer, and regularly exfoliate the skin.
Smoking: People who smoke cigarettes continuously expose their skin to chemicals that cause lines and wrinkles to form earlier. If you are a smoker, quit immediately and follow these tips to get your skin healthy again.
Healthy Diet: Eat a diet full of lean protein, fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy oils. A well-balanced diet is key factor for optimal skin health!
Exercise: Following a daily exercise routine can greatly benefit the skin by boosting blood flow and improving its oxygen level.
Crow’s Feet Treatment Options
Patients who have developed crow’s feet can choose from a variety of treatment options to limit their visible appearance. The best treatment for each patient will depend on the severity of their crow’s feet and well as their desired outcome. Additionally, patients may benefit from trying a combination of various treatments.
Here are the most popular treatment options for crow’s feet:
Topical Skin Care Products
There are many topical products, either over-the-counter or prescription strength, that are very good at addressing fine lines and moderate wrinkles. Some of the best options include eye creams and serums formulated with ingredients like retinol, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin C. These products work by removing dead skin, encouraging new skin cell development, and protecting the skin from further aging. As always, it’s best to consult with your dermatologist before introducing any new skin care product into your regimen.
Chemical peels are topically applied formulas that revitalize the skin surface by creating an even and controlled shedding of the skin cells. This allows new layers to be exposed, creating a fresh appearance and smoother texture to the skin surface. Peels differ in terms of their strength and issues they address, so it’s important to choose an experienced provider who can tailor a peel to your specific needs.
Micro-needling (or Collagen Induction Therapy) is an in-office treatment that utilizes a handheld dermapen to create tiny punctures or tears in the skin. By creating minor skin injury during the procedure, the skin’s natural healing process initiates the production of new collagen and elastin fibers that thicken the skin and reduce the appearance of crow’s feet and other wrinkles. Micro-needling also creates channels that increase the efficacy of topical skin care products by enabling deeper penetration and fuller absorption.
The use of an injectable neurotoxin like Botox, Dysport, or Xeomin can also help lessen the appearance of mild instances of crow’s feet. These injectable treatments work by relaxing the facial muscles that cause lines and wrinkles when they contract. It does this by blocking neuron signals between the brain and the treated muscle. The treatment is safe, quick, and nearly painless. Best of all results are long lasting and often fully visible within two weeks of treatment.
Dermal fillers have become one of the most popular tools in the fight against aging. These non-surgical treatments require little to no recovery time and produce instant results. Fillers like Juvederm or Restylane can be injected directly into crow’s feet and surrounding areas to smooth wrinkles and plump the skin.
Dermal fillers are particularly effective in treating static crow’s feet, where wrinkles and folds appear even when the face is at rest. To learn more, view our dermal filler comparison guide.
Laser resurfacing (sometimes referred to as a laser peel) uses highly concentrated microscopic beams of laser energy to remove precise amounts of skin in a controlled, targeted fashion. Laser treatments can be used to treat the skin surrounding crow’s feet, minimizing their visibility. It also removes the old, dull top layers of skin and initiates the production of new collagen and elastin, improving skin quality, texture, and firmness. Some popular resurfacing lasers include Fraxel, ActiveFX, and Clear+Brilliant.