• Wrinkles: Does Smiling Cause It?

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    They're sometimes called laugh lines, but the euphemism doesn't tell the whole story about how smiling causes wrinkles. The lines that radiate out from the corners of the eyes and lines in the cheek area appear long before old age. And these crinkle marks are deeper and more noticeable than wrinkles elsewhere on the face or body. So obviously facial expressions are an important factor in skin wrinkling on the face. But for this sort of wrinking to happen, environmental agents and age must act on the skin first.

    If you develop deep smile lines in old age, consider yourself lucky. It’s a visible sign that you’ve been blessed with a life full of smiles. Of course, not only smiles will be revealed.

    Any time you make a facial expression, whether that be a smile, a frown, or a scowl, it causes movement in underlying facial muscles, which will form a groove perpendicular to the movement.

    In the case of smiles, two grooves known as the nasolabial folds form. These are the two skin folds that run down from your nose to the corners of your mouth. When you’re young, your skin’s elasticity helps it bounce back so that the folds disappear when you stop smiling.

    But as you get older and your skin begins to change – due to less elasticity, less fat, muscle atrophy and other factors – the folds no longer fade away. In fact, if you don’t yet …

    Of course, you could also try to limit your smiles. But you’d be forgoing the immune system-boosting, stress-lowering benefits of a good laugh. “I would never tell anyone to avoid smiling,” Glashofer says. “You are truly blessed to have an abundance of smiles in your life.”

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