How to Get Rid of Frown Lines

Woman deeply frowning.
Forehead furrows and frown lines don’t have to be permanent -- there are cosmetic solutions for banishing (or at least diminishing) those wrinkles. See more emotion pictures.
© Villanueva

If you'd like nothing more than to turn your frown upside down but you can't because of wrinkles, you know what a challenge frown lines can be. Frown lines, which appear between your eyebrows, can make you look sad no matter how happy you are -- they can also make you look perpetually tired even if you feel well rested. If you're sick of people telling you to cheer up, a number of medical options exist to help reverse the effects of aging.

Forehead furrows, laugh lines, creases, frown lines -- whatever you call them, they're more pronounced than fine lines and harder to effectively treat. Since frown lines are wrinkles, you can blame the same culprits for their untimely appearance: sun exposure, smoking, heredity and skin type.


Lotions, creams, glycolic acid peels, deeper chemical peels and dermabrasion can all reduce fine lines with varying degrees of success. But none of these methods are effective in treating frown lines. Frown lines require the bigger guns in a dermatologist's arsenal.

How you rid your face of frown lines can range from a fairly simple and not-too-painful procedure that can be performed in your doctor's office during your lunch hour to surgery that will eat into your sick leave. No matter the solution, however, erasing your frown lines will involve a hit to your pocketbook. Wrinkle-reducing procedures usually aren't covered by insurance because they're considered cosmetic rather than medical.

If you'd like to have a smooth glabella or get rid of that crease across the bridge of your nose, this article will inform you of your options, including filler injections and surgery. Turn the page to learn about what's probably the most well known way to get rid of frown lines.


Botox for Frown Lines

If you're considering Botox, you're not alone. Botox is the No. 1 nonsurgical cosmetic procedure performed in the United States. In 2007, Botox accounted for nearly 2.8 million procedures, almost double the amount of the second most popular nonsurgical procedure [source: American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery].

For more information about Botox, read Botox: Fast Facts.


Botox is a purified form of botulism, a potentially fatal, paralyzing disease. When injected into targeted muscles, Botox reduces the appearance of a frown line by blocking nerve signals, which relaxes the targeted muscle.

Botox is a relatively quick and easy fix for wrinkles. Injections only take a few seconds, and side effects are minimal and include headaches and temporarily drooping eyelids. Though it takes from three to seven days to see the results of Botox, the effects last for three to four months.

Considering that Botox is a form of botulism, there is the risk that when injected it could spread to other parts of the body. If this were to happen, the results would be symptoms similar to botulism, including weakness in muscles; difficulty talking, breathing and swallowing; double or blurred vision; and a loss of bladder control. Rest assured that most cases where Botox spreads beyond its intended injection site involve too-high doses of the drug used for unapproved treatments, such as treating limb spasticity in children with cerebral palsy. However, the symptoms have also appeared in adults receiving treatment in an approved manner. Symptoms can appear anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks after an injection.

If needles make you nauseous or the thought of being injected with a form of botulism freaks you out, you may wonder is there's anything else you can do to get rid of frown lines for good. Head to the next page to find out.


Is There a Permanent Solution for Frown Lines?

Finding the fountain of youth doesn't have to involve drugs like Botox -- soft tissue fillers are effective alternatives. Unlike Botox or Dysport, which freeze the muscles around the frown line and prevent them from contracting, injectable cosmetic fillers fill the wrinkle and make the skin look smoother.

Only absorbable injectable fillers are approved for correcting frown lines. Absorbable fillers include collagen, hyaluronic acid gel, calcium hydroxylapatite and Poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA). Injections can be done in a dermatologist's office. Side effects are usually mild and go away within a week or so, but sometimes it takes months or years for side effects to appear. Results last about six months.


Surgery is a possibility for anyone who isn't crazy about undergoing repeated injections to keep frown lines at bay. The old saying that nothing lasts forever is true in terms of permanent solutions for deep, furrowed frown lines, but surgery provides the closest alternative.

A forehead lift can provide results that will last years, rather than months. This procedure can be done for multiple reasons, like repositioning the eyebrows and reducing the appearance of frown lines, or it can target one area. Limited endoscopic surgery is one option for treating a furrow between the eyebrows or across the bridge of the nose. Treating the frown lines may involve altering or removing parts of muscles.

It will, of course, take longer to recover from going under the knife than from getting injections. A forehead lift requires general anesthesia or intravenous sedation to produce a twilight state, and you might have to spend the night in the hospital. Possible side effects of plastic surgery include swelling, bruising and facial numbness. Incisions are typically covered by hair and should be inconspicuous when healed.

Sending those frown lines packing is not necessarily an easy or pain-free process, but it can be done in a variety of ways. Check out the links on the next page for more in-depth information about your options.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Allergan. "Fast Facts." 2009. (Accessed 9/16/09)
  • American Academy of Dermatologists. "Botulinum Rejuvenation." 2008 (Accessed 9/14/09)
  • American Academy of Dermatologists. "Facial Skin Rejuvenation." 2008. (Accessed 9/14/09)
  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Soft Tissue Fillers." 2009 (Accessed 9/16/09)
  • American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. "Forehead Lift (Brow Lift)." 2009. (Accessed 9/16/09)
  • American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. "Statistics Quick Facts." (Accessed 9/16/09)
  • Singer, Natasha. "F.D.A. Requires Warning Label for Botox." New York Times. 5/1/09 (Accessed 9/16/09)
  • Stacy, Kelli Miller. "Botox Rival Fades Frown Lines." 3/16/09. (Accessed 9/14/09)
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Wrinkle Relief: Injectable Cosmetic Fillers." 8/31/09. (Accessed 9/16/09)
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "FDA Requires Boxed Warning for All Botulinum Toxin Products." 4/30/09. (Accessed 9/16/09)
  • Warner, Jennifer. "FDA Approves New Wrinkle Treatment." 5/1/09. (Accessed 9/14/09)
  • WebMD. "Cosmetic Procedures: The Brow Lift." (Accessed 9/16/09)
  • WebMD. "Wrinkles." (Accessed 9/14/09)
  • WebMD. "Wrinkle Treatment Offers BOTOX Alternative." (Accessed 9/14/09)