There are 43 muscles in the face, essential for expressing our emotions, speaking, eating and everyday involuntary actions like blinking and breathing. Because the cheeks comprise a significant percentage of our total facial surface area, they can also be one of the first areas to show signs of premature aging. Factors such as time, lifestyle, and genetics play a role in how wrinkles develop on our cheeks. With good care and protection, our cheeks can stay healthy and soft, while still keeping our character.

What Are Cheek Wrinkles

Vertical lines on the cheeks include creasing between the nose and apples of the cheeks (nasolabial folds), “marionette lines,” smile lines, and wrinkles on the upper lip (perioral rhytides). These occur with the loss of collagen and elastin around the ligaments of the mouth and chin. As collagen and elastin grow thinner or develop irregularly, skin loses its structure, revealing a wrinkle or fine line.

How Do Cheek Wrinkles Develop?

The main causes for cheek wrinkles are due to lifestyle and environment.

  • Weight fluctuations: Rapid weight loss can cause the face to lose the volume it needs to appear firm and plump.
  • Smoking:  The repetitive action of pursing your lips to inhale a cigarette causes additional wrinkling. Nicotine in cigarettes constricts the blood vessels that go to the outermost layers of the skin, preventing efficient circulation. As a result, your skin receives less oxygen and fewer nutrients. The added chemicals in cigarettes also damage collagen and elastin, limiting its production.
  • Sun damage: Radiation from the sun’s rays are the dominant cause of premature aging, called photo-aging. Both UVA and UVB harm the skin. UBV rays affect the outer skin layers and cause visible burns, while UVA rays penetrate deeply into the skin and damage skin cell DNA. Both damage collagen fibers and elastin, creating unevenness at the cellular level. These areas of irregular collagen fibers are called solar scars, which add up to create a wrinkle. Imagine collagen fibers as springs in a mattress—as those springs become uneven, so does the surface of the mattress.
  • Diet: An imbalanced diet with too many simple carbohydrates can cause cheek wrinkles over time. Foods that raise blood sugar too quickly cause skin to lose elasticity and disrupt your cells’ normal metabolism.
  • Dehydration: Dehydration can also make any fine lines appear deeper. Skin that is in need of additional moisture will appear dry and lined.

Prevention

Fortunately, many of the causes of cheeks wrinkles can be addressed with a few lifestyle changes. Being vigilant about avoiding UV exposure and developing healthy habits can help encourage collagen and elastin production, which will prevent premature aging.

  • Sun protection: Always protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays. Wear sunscreen liberally everyday, even when it’s cloudy. Be sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of at least 30 and wear a hat when you go outside whenever possible.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Stay active with a balanced workout program that incorporates strength training and cardiovascular fitness. Exercise improves your circulation, which in turn improves your overall health, including the skin. For women, aim for a body fat percentage between 12-24%.
  • Quit smoking: If you smoke regularly, begin a program to quit. Although damage from smoking cannot be reversed, eliminating cigarettes has a profound and immediate effect on your health.
  • Improve your diet: Incorporate more low-glycemic, nutrient-rich foods into your diet to promote collagen and elastin production and protection. Avocados, broccoli, and blueberries are a few examples of complex carbohydrates that keep skin glowing. The antioxidants in leafy greens and colorful fruits will also help protect skin from free-radicals.
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule: Cultivate a regular sleeping schedule, and aim for 7 to 8 hours every night. Between the hours of 11 p.m. and 2 a.m., the body releases a special hormone that repairs damaged skin. Sleeping on your back will also help prevent cheek wrinkles, because creases on the fabric of your pillow can transfer onto your face.
  • Have a skincare ritual: Establish a regular skincare ritual that incorporates regular exfoliation and is dermatologist-tested. Stay away from formulas that include mineral oil, phthalates, parabens, DEA, TEA, and urea, as they can accumulate in the body over time.

Treatment


In addition to taking preventative steps, there are several ways to treat cheek wrinkles and nourish skin.

  • Exfoliate: It’s important to regularly and gently exfoliate your face so skin can more easily absorb other treatments. Your skin is composed of three layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and subcutaneous tissue. By sloughing away dead cells on the surface, treatments can penetrate more easily into the deeper layers to help repair and revitalize skin.
  • Hydration: Keeping skin regularly hydrated and moisturized helps to plump the skin and minimize the appearance of lines and wrinkles.
  • Facial Massage: Massaging your face with your fingertips or tool on a regular basis stimulates blood flow, which can help soften fine lines and make skin appear  plump and firm.
  • Dermatological Treatments: Injectable dermal fillers will provide a temporarily smoother look to skin. Over time, most fillers will be re-absorbed by the body. Dermal fillers that are approved by the FDA are: Collagen, Hyaluronic Acid, Calcium hydroxylapatite, and Poly-L-lactic acid. The only non-absorbable filler is Polymethylmethacrylate beads (PMMA microspheres). As with any medical procedures, there are risks, so consult with a licensed physician you trust for treatment.

Conclusion

Remember that ultimately, cheek wrinkles are a reason to keep smiling, as you look back on the happiest times and look forward to new experiences. Our lives shape us in many different ways, and our outer appearances are only a part of our story. A true glow to skin comes from within, and can only be helped by taking extra steps towards a healthier lifestyle.

Sources:

  • http://www.unh.edu/healthyunh/blog/2011/03/wrinkles-or-weight-loss
  • http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/symptoms/wrinkles/print.html
  • http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/food-matters/2014/10/31/trick-or-treat-and-wrinkles/
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583887/
  • http://www.webmd.com/beauty/wrinkles/23-ways-to-reduce-wrinkles?page=1
  • http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323501004578388950896385688