Can The Nasolabial Fold be Made Less Deep By Releasing It?

Q: Are you familiar with the wire release for nasolabial folds and does it work? Will it leave a scar?

A: The nasolabial fold, also known as the facial parentheses, is an interesting facial fold that is not really a wrinkle. It develops as the cheek tissues fall with aging over the more fixed and immobile upper lip. This creates a deepening fold as the cheek tissue piles up on top of the lip. While injectable fillers are the most common method of softening the nasolabial fold, they are temporary and don’t address the actual problem. There are surgeries that treat the real problem, cheek sagging, through a midface or cheek lift but that is usually too extreme for most patients and is best done if the lower eyelid has significant signs of aging as well.

Other methods of nasolabial fold treatment have focused on releasing the attachment of the fold. One of these methods has become known as the wire release. Through several small stab incision and a triangulation technique, an actual wire under the skin is used to widely release the dermal attachments of the fold. While the same technique could be done with scissors, it would require a larger, more visible, incision. This is the advantage of the wire technique. The wire does effectively release the nasolabial fold and produce some initial impressive early results. (after the bruising clears) But the long-term results with this method show a fair amount of relapse as the tissues adhere back down. For this reason, I like to place a dermal graft underneath the released tissues to provide a better long-term result.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana