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What are Glabellar Lines?

By Rolando Braza
Updated Feb 20, 2024
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Glabellar lines are the vertical lines on the human face that resemble the number 11 and are visible when a person frowns. Two major muscles of the upper face called the corrugator and the procerus contract to form the glabellar lines between the eyebrows. These lines disappear as soon as a person stops frowning.

As a person ages, the skin becomes less elastic and the glabellar lines become more pronounced; in some cases, they stay permanently in the face, making it appear that the person is always frowning or angry even if he or she is cool and relaxed. A person who begins experiencing degenerative changes, such as having static wrinkles, may see a cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist for medical assistance. There are two options to address glabellar lines: botulinum toxin, known as Botox™ injection; and brow lifting, also known as foreheadplasty.

Botox™ injections work best on glabellar lines that are just beginning and are still shallow. The muscles that became stiff, thus forming the lines, are injected with small doses of Botox™ to relax the muscles and move them back to their relaxed position. Treatment, however, will not totally remove the lines. Injectable fillers may complement the treatment for a smoother and almost wrinkle-free forehead. Generally, the effect of the treatment will only last for a few months and another round of Botox™ injections must again be made to keep the lines away.

Deep glabellar lines are treated by cosmetic surgeons through foreheadplasty, which has longer-lasting results than Botox™ injections. The surgery aims to weaken the muscles that form the glabellar lines by removing some of the said muscles. Surgery can be performed in two ways: the hairline or coronal technique, or the endoscopic technique. The coronal technique is a popular choice because the scar is not visible since the incision is done along the hairline.

A person who undergoes surgery to remove glabellar lines must keep in mind that the effect of the treatment is temporary just like with Botox™ injections. Foreheadplasty will not cause the biological clock to halt. The aging will continue but at a reduced pace. Lines will recur but only after some years and not after only a few months, as is the case with Botox™ injections. Still, the bottom line is aging will continue; a person typically needs to accept this fact and avoid lifestyles that can accelerate the development of unsightly lines on the face.

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Discussion Comments
By anon131748 — On Dec 03, 2010

I have three questions.

1. I was wondering how there won't be any visible scars. What if/when the hairline recedes, will you be able to see the scars then?

2. I understand your emphasis on: "this procedure isn't a way to stop wrinkles altogether", but at the same time you seem to equate it to botox, which is crap in my opinion. And the reason it is crap is because botox actually doesn't make your wrinkles go away, it just hides them temporarily (as I like to put it). On top of that, you get undesired side-effects; you can't move your face muscles at all!

Because of the underwhelming description of this procedure I am a bit confused. Will the exact same wrinkle appear or were you talking generally that you will get wrinkles "again"?

Let me tell you "my story." I am a male in my early 20s. I developed a wrinkle between my eyes/brows a while back and I has been bugging me since. I look angry all the time. For me, all I really want is a permanent removal of this particular wrinkle. I am not after slowing down the aging process. I have no problem with wrinkles, but a guy in his early 20s?! That is harsh.

In my teens I was without glasses so I squinted a lot! I am positive that this is reason I developed mine. Not one in my family (we are 9) has this "angry brow" or any other significant wrinkles actually. All I want is to start over - reset that particular face muscle that causes that wrinkle, so to speak.

The reason I am so against botox is because it is a recurring thing, you never take away the wrinkle, you just wish it away. To always remind oneself of that and in the process being that vain (doing a one time thing then leave it behind it is preferable) to constantly think about it and spend money on it. It is very effeminate and feels terrible!

I also love the mimic of a face. I don't want that ability to go away for all the money in the world. All I really need and want is not to have a permanent constant wrinkle that makes me look mad. And I don't want to maintain the removal of wrinkle (botox) constantly, if another wrinkle naturally re-appears somewhere, fine.

Do I sound like a good fit for this procedure (expectations-wise)? As I hope you can understand where I am coming from. I am not a person who is desperately trying to fight wrinkles and all that and wish it to be gone forever. I just want this particular muscle reset/be put back at the starting line with the rest of the face muscles.

This procedure you are describing sounds like it may be for me, but then you talk about undergoing surgery to remove glabellar lines is temporary just like with Botox™. hat is where the confusion starts. I wonder if you mean just like I described above; the exact same muscle that causes that exact wrinkle will re-appear later on or if you just mean generally, naturally; "this isn't a way to stop aging, so don't even think it"?

3. Are there any side effects to this procedure?

This is after all a procedure that involves removing your face muscle[s], the function that makes you able to mimic expressions. Will I not be able to frown anymore with this particular muscle removed?

Is there a chance that one wouldn't be able to move the muscles of my face at all? etc., etc. With kind regards, Tomas

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