The mental crease, or labiomental sulcus, is the horizontal crease underneath your lower lip and above your chin. This chin crease is formed by the chin’s mentalis muscle and can be a single groove of varying depths, or in some people, may appear as multiple wrinkles or folds.
A deep or prominent mental crease is not harmful, but some individuals may find it aesthetically displeasing. A more defined mental crease tends to throw shadows on the chin which can make it appear larger. Also, deep lines formed by the mental crease can exaggerate the appearance of aging.
Fortunately, there are numerous effective ways to both minimize and correct an overly prominent mental crease.
What is a Mental Crease?
The appearance of a deep mental crease may be genetic, a result of the natural shape of your chin, or related to the alignment of your jaw or teeth. The mental crease can become exaggerated with age, however, as collagen and the structure it provides begins to fade.
Repeated muscle movements, especially pouting, can create wrinkles or deepen grooves along the mental crease. With age, and the decline of elastin, these wrinkles become more consistently visible. Sometimes enlargement of the chin muscles, due to genetics or years of facial expression, can also deepen the mental crease.
A deep mental crease before the age of 30 could be the sign of a genetic disorder. Normally, chin creases are not an aesthetic concern until the age of 40 or beyond.
Mental Crease Prevention
While there is no way to fully prevent a mental crease, taking proper care of your skin can minimize its severity. Common sense skin care like exfoliating, moisturizing and practicing safe sun care are all important. There are even some massages and exercises that can help.
As with all skin-related aging concerns, proper skin care is the primary preventative. An anti-aging skin care routine includes use of a chemical exfoliant, such as salicylic or glycolic acid to remove dead or damaged skin cells and promote skin cell rejuvenation.
Proper hydration prevents wrinkles and keeps skin looking plump and youthful. A moisturizer containing hyaluronic acid contributes to your anti-aging routine by boosting your skin’s natural collagen production.
Excess sun exposure, smoke and air pollutants speed up the aging process by damaging collagen and elastin. Wear sunscreen daily, avoid tanning beds, and quit smoking to retain skin’s youthful appearance longer.
Facial massage may help relax and lengthen the chin muscle, avoiding the hypertrophy, or enlargement, that can lead to a mental crease. Try the following once or twice daily:
- Massage the chin gently using the tips of your fingers to create circular movements
- Use your knuckles or fingertips to pull the chin muscles from the center outward using gentle pressure
- Using the first two fingers of one hand, pinch along the mental crease from right to left and back again
Mental Crease Treatment Options
If a prominent mental crease is concerning you, there are several treatment options available. We’ve listed the options below in order of subtle to dramatic, and impermanent to permanent.
Neuromodulators (subtle changes, impermanent results)
Neuromodulators such as Botox, Dysport and Xeomin act in a similar way. These injectables are often the primary go-to for minimizing the chin crease before more dramatic solutions are applied.
Neuromodulators work by paralyzing the muscles of the chin, to prevent the mental crease from forming during certain facial expressions. For this reason, these methods work best if your mental crease is the result of facial expression, or if you’re seeking subtle change.
Neuromodulators are not permanent, and you’ll have to receive repeated treatments for best results.
Dermal Fillers (more pronounced changes, longer lasting results)
When Botox isn’t quite enough, dermal fillers such as Restylane or Belotero can be used on their own or in combination with Botox for a more dramatic result.
Dermal fillers work by filling the area under the crease with a gel-like substance for a smoother chin contour. If your chin crease is present even when your face is relaxed, this might be the best solution for you.
Dermal fillers are more permanent than Botox. While some last upwards of a year this treatment is still not considered permanent.
Chin Augmentation (dramatic changes, permanent results)
A chin augmentation surgical procedure, or chin implant, is the most dramatic solution to a mental crease, but may not be the best solution for everyone.
Chin implants typically bring the chin forward to fix weak or minimal jaw lines. In some people, this increased chin projection can actually deepen the mental crease. Only a skilled plastic surgeon can determine if chin augmentation is the correct solution for you. If you have a slight chin profile, but an otherwise normally functioning jaw, this may be the permanent solution you’re looking for.
Patients who are concerned about the aesthetics of aging often neglect to consider the impact of the mental crease on the overall look of the face. Smoothing the mental crease is one small change that can result in making the nose and forehead appear smaller while making the lower face appear more symmetrical and proportional.