Are Nasolabial Folds Genetic?

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Are Nasolabial Folds Genetic?

Date of Content: December 18, 2023
Written by: Harvey Talento
Reviewed by: Maarit Tiirikainen, PhD


What are Nasolabial Folds?

The nasolabial fold, often called the “smile line” or “laugh line,” is a common feature in human faces. It is present in nearly everyone except newborns and those with facial paralysis. These lines run from the sides of the nose to the corners of the mouth and become more visible when smiling or laughing, fading away when the face is relaxed.

Unlike a medical condition or a clear sign of aging, nasolabial folds go through a change in visibility over time. Initially more noticeable during expressions, these lines deepen with age, transforming from temporary creases to lasting wrinkles that stick around even when the face is at rest.

This transformation is a result of the natural aging process, involving reduced skin elasticity, less collagen and fat volume, and repeated muscle movements tied to facial expressions.

Nasolabial folds

Genetics of Nasolabial Folds

Understanding the genetic factors influencing nasolabial folds is important for advancing both medical and cosmetic fields. This knowledge allows for personalized skin care strategies, addressing individual genetic predispositions and improving overall skin wellness.

MYH11 Gene and SNP rs76053540

Homo sapiens myosin heavy chain 11 (MYH11) functions as a major contractile protein, converting chemical energy into mechanical energy through the hydrolysis of ATP.

Situated in the 16p13.11 region, the genetic variant rs76053540 has emerged as a significant factor influencing the development of nasolabial folds in Han Chinese females. The genome-wide association study (GWAS) on skin aging revealed a robust association (P = 5.0 × 10−9, dominant model) between this variant and the visibility of nasolabial folds, showcasing its specific impact on facial aging dynamics.

This genetic locus stands out for its unique influence on nasolabial folds, suggesting a dose-dependent effect where the presence of one or more copies of rs76053540-G amplifies the likelihood of nasolabial fold development.

The significance of this association is further underscored by its successful cross-ethnic replication in a meta-analysis involving independent Caucasian cohorts (P = 8.6 × 10−10), emphasizing the universal relevance of this genetic marker in influencing facial aging patterns. 

Understanding the role of this MYH11 gene variant opens avenues for targeted treatments and interventions, holding promise for a more personalized approach to addressing nasolabial fold concerns in diverse populations.

SLC30A8 and RAD21 Genes

Two significant single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), namely rs6980503 and rs4876369 in the SLC30A8 gene, have been pinpointed as influential markers for nasolabial folds in Japanese women.  These SNPs exhibit pronounced associations with the expression of the nearby RAD21 gene, which codes for a Cohesin subunit. Cohesin mediates cohesion between replicated sister chromatids and is therefore essential for chromosome segregation in dividing cells, forming a vital link to the development of nasolabial folds. 

Decoding the genetic aspects of nasolabial folds contributes to advancements in medical and cosmetic practices, offering tailored solutions for healthier skin and more effective anti-aging approaches.

Non-Genetic Factors Influencing Nasolabial Folds

The formation of nasolabial folds involves a complex interplay of anatomical components, ranging from skin thickness to muscular activity. Recognizing these factors is crucial for tailored aesthetic treatments.  Below are some of the factors outside genetics that may influence the appearance of nasolabial folds:

Skin Characteristics

The nasolabial fold is more than a simple crease; it represents a three-dimensional curvature influenced by factors such as the loss of skin thickness over the sulcus and the presence of redundant skin drooping. Successful treatment necessitates a comprehensive assessment of skin characteristics and an understanding of the biomechanical support required for facial harmony.

Fat Distribution

Excessive fat deposits laterally to the sulcus, a groove from the nose to the mouth corner,  contribute to nasolabial folds prominence. Understanding the role of fat-pad distribution and its impact on nasolabial folds is essential for developing targeted treatments, particularly in cases where subcutaneous fullness and fat play a critical role.

Muscular Activity

Muscular hyperactivity is a significant factor in nasolabial fold formation. Contractions of facial muscles, particularly during smiling or asymmetric movements, create dynamic wrinkles that may evolve into permanent static rhytides (fine lines or wrinkles). Selective approaches targeting specific facial muscles using treatments like BoNT-A and surgery aim to mitigate nasolabial folds associated with muscular hypercontraction.

Bone Structure

Bone retrusion, or posterior movement or positioning of a bone, can contribute to specific types of nasolabial folds. Understanding the influence of bone structure on nasolabial fold development is crucial for comprehensive assessments and tailored treatments, ensuring that interventions address the unique characteristics of each individual’s facial anatomy.

Decoding the intricacies of various factors influencing nasolabial folds is pivotal for advancing aesthetic treatments. As we navigate the aesthetic landscape, acknowledging the multifaceted nature of nasolabial folds allows for more precise, personalized, and effective approaches to facial rejuvenation and reconstruction.

How To Improve The Appearance of Nasolabial Folds

While some may find visible nasolabial folds attractive, appreciating how they accentuate cheekbones and facial features, it’s crucial to consider factors that could exacerbate the formation of permanent deep folds, potentially making you appear older than your actual age.

Here are some suggestions to minimize the likelihood of early development of pronounced nasolabial folds:

Avoid or quit smoking

Smoking is a significant contributor to premature aging. The toxins in nicotine degrade collagen and elastin in the skin, narrow blood vessels, limit oxygen supply and increase free radical production.

Limit sun exposure

Harmful UV rays can cause photo damage and premature aging. Use sunscreen with SPF 50 or higher and wear protective accessories such as sunglasses and brim hats.

Maintain optimal weight

Keeping a stable weight can prevent skin stretching and subsequent sagging due to weight fluctuations.

Follow a balanced diet

A well-rounded diet is crucial for overall well-being. Include antioxidant-rich foods like fruits and vegetables to counteract damage caused by pollutants. Supplements such as Vitamins C, A, and E, collagen, astaxanthin, and glutathione can be beneficial.

Stay hydrated

Proper hydration supports skin moisturization and strengthens the skin’s protective barrier, helping maintain elasticity and plumpness.

Adopt a skincare routine

Consistent skincare habits involving gentle cleansing, moisturizing, and regular exfoliation can improve skin wellness, texture, and elasticity. Look for products containing ingredients such as retinol, hyaluronic acid, peptides, and antioxidants known for stimulating collagen production and rejuvenating the skin.

Sleep on your back

This position can counteract the effects of gravity on laugh lines. If you prefer sleeping on your side, try alternating sides regularly.

Practice facial workout

Facial exercises or facial yoga may potentially strengthen facial muscles, boost circulation, and improve skin tone. However, individual results may vary. Some dermatological clinics offer facial exercise treatments via machines.

As individuals age, it’s common for deeper nasolabial folds to develop. If you’re concerned about your smile lines or laugh lines, discussing treatment options with a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon could be beneficial. Numerous non-invasive and surgical treatments are available, offering solutions that suit individual needs.

About The LifeDNA Skincare Report

Experience skincare on a whole new level with the LifeDNA Skincare Report. Delving into your genetic code, this report reveals insights into your skin, offering a personalized roadmap for addressing various skincare concerns.

Empower your skincare routine with precision by unlocking genetic secrets for radiant, tailored results. Invest in the future of your skin today.


  • Nasolabial folds evolve naturally with age and via external factors, influenced by genetics and lifestyle choices from an early age.
  • Understanding genetic factors, such as the MYH11 rs76053540 variant found in Han Chinese females, holds promise for targeted treatments and personalized interventions.
  • Key SNPs, rs6980503, and rs4876369, linked to the RAD21 gene expression, were found to impact nasolabial folds in Japanese women and can contribute to advancements in anti-aging practices.
  • Factors such as skin characteristics, fat distribution, muscular activity, and bone structure play vital roles in nasolabial folds, necessitating nuanced approaches for effective treatments.
  • Minimizing early nasolabial fold development involves lifestyle choices, including avoiding smoking, sun protection, maintaining weight, a balanced diet, hydration status, skin care, sleep habits, and facial workouts, with personalized treatments from experts.


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*Understanding your genetics can offer valuable insights into your well-being, but it is not deterministic. Your traits can be influenced by the complex interplay involving nature, lifestyle, family history, and others.

Our reports and suggestions do not diagnose or treat any health conditions or provide any medical advice. Consult with a healthcare professional before making any major lifestyle changes or if you have any other concerns about your results.