Fighting Sleep Wrinkles

The causes of the signs of aging seem to be ever-increasing in number and coming from all directions. The latest to add to clients' worries is sleep wrinkles, which are fine lines and deeper wrinkles that form overnight when the skin is squished against the pillow. So much for relaxing at night. We talked to Goesel Anson, M.D. F.A.C.S., creator of the JuveRest Sleep Wrinkle Pillow, who provided more background on the phenomenon and, most importantly, some solutions to offer clients.

What are the main causes of sleep wrinkles?
There are two main types of facial wrinkles: expression wrinkles and sleep wrinkles. Wrinkles caused by the muscle movement of facial expressions—frown lines, crow’s-feet, and smile lines —develop with age due to repetition, thinning of skin, and increased skin laxity. Botox® helps with expression wrinkles by weakening the muscles that causes the wrinkles. Sleep wrinkles are different.  Sleep wrinkles are caused when the face is distorted against a pillow surface.  Compression and shear forces act on the surface of the skin when in contact with a pillow during sleep.  These wrinkles worsen with over time due to repetition combined with thinning of the skin and increased laxity as we age.  The exact location and pattern of an individual’s sleep wrinkles depends on exactly how that person typically sleeps.

At what age do wrinkles begin to develop?
There are many factors that contribute to the appearance of aging and the development of wrinkles, regardless of the forces that cause the wrinkles, including sun exposure, smoking, quality of skin care and of course, genetics.  Depending on these factors, wrinkles generally begin to appear in the late 30’s and 40’s.  Sleep wrinkles often are first noticed as a diagonal line at the junction of the outer eyelid and cheekbone (different from the more horizontal “crow’s-feet” expression lines).  Initially the line is present when you first wake up, and then disappears within a few hours.  With age and nightly repetition, the wrinkle takes longer and longer to disappear until it ultimately becomes permanent. Of course, expression wrinkles worsen with age along with sleep wrinkles.

Can sleep wrinkles be reversed?
Botox  continues to improve expression wrinkles, such as scowl lines, with continued use. The scowl line improves as the muscle can no longer create the wrinkle. Likewise, we can expect that decreasing distortion of the face during sleep will also result in sleep line improvement and if we avoid sleeping in positions that cause facial compression, we will avoid developing sleep wrinkles. A recent independent trial showed that 24 of 27 participants who used JuveRest® The Sleep Wrinkle Pillow saw a visible improvement in the appearance of their skin after 8 weeks.

What are some other ways to minimize the formation and look of sleep wrinkles?
The best way to avoid developing and reinforcing sleep wrinkles is to stop sleeping on your face!  It is side and stomach sleeping that results in facial distortion.  Back sleeping is optimal both for your back and your face.  For those who spend significant sleep time in side position, the JuveRest® pillow can help. Botox® doesn’t work on sleep wrinkles because they are not caused by muscle movement. Rather, they occur passively with facial distortion against a pillow.  Fillers such as Juvederm® and Restylane® can help “fill in” any type of wrinkle but, but the effect of fillers is not permanent and sleep wrinkles are likely to recur in adjacent sites, unless the underlying sleep patterns which caused the wrinkles is changed.  Dermabrasion, laser treatments, chemical peels and, of course, plastic surgery can improve the look of wrinkles but, again, sleep wrinkles are likely to recur unless the underlying cause is addressed.