What Dermatologists Want You to Know About 11 Lines

woman with wrinkled brow, high section, close up of eyes
How to Treat and Prevent 11 Forehead LinesLeukos - Getty Images

Extended time spent scowling at screens isn’t good for a lot of things, health-wise (sleep, focus, the list goes on), but it can also expedite the arrival of pesky forehead wrinkles—namely 11 lines, also known as frown lines.

Meet the Experts: Cula Svidzinski, M.D., a cosmetic dermatologist and nanoscientist at Sadick Dermatology, Elizabeth Houshmand, M.D., a double board-certified dermatologist at Houshmand Dermatology, and Jackie Spagnuolo, A.G.-N.P., an aesthetic nurse practitioner and owner of Beauty Nurse NYC.

Wrinkles and skin changes are a normal part of aging, but it’s safe to say that no one wants them to show up before they have to—so below, dermatologists share exactly what causes 11 lines, how to prevent them, and how to treat existing lines to make them appear softer.

What are the 11 lines?

11 lines are medically known as glabellar lines, or “vertical parallel lines that appear between the eyebrows,” explains Cula Svidzinski, M.D., a cosmetic dermatologist and nanoscientist at Sadick Dermatology. They’re casually referred to as 11 lines because they often come in pairs, resembling the number 11.

“Initially, these lines are visible with muscle contraction only,” Dr. Syidzinski adds, say, when you furrow your brow to read fine print. “However, with repeated movements and loss of collagen from aging or sun damage over time, the lines may become permanent.”

Types of forehead wrinkles

There are two main types of forehead wrinkles, explains Dr. Syidzinski, which are:

11 lines or glabellar lines

As previously mentioned, 11 lines are vertical lines that appear between the brows due to repeated expression and movement of the brows and forehead.

Horizontal forehead lines

These are horizontal wrinkles that run across the forehead, often due to repeated raising of the eyebrows.

Dynamic vs. static wrinkles

In general, wrinkles also fall into two categories, adds Elizabeth Houshmand, M.D., a double board-certified dermatologist at Houshmand Dermatology. They are dynamic and static. “Dynamic wrinkles develop from repeated facial movements and are visible only when making facial movements,” she says. “Static wrinkles appear at rest and can be seen without any movement.” Static wrinkles are often caused by sun exposure, loss of elasticity, and aging, she adds.

What causes forehead wrinkles/frown lines?

Forehead wrinkles and 11 lines are caused by facial muscle contraction that happens during expression, like frowning and squinting, our experts explain. They may be especially prominent in people who are extra expressive, and can be seen at any age, Dr. Houshmand adds, but they become static or permanent over time. Loss of collagen from aging, sun damage, and smoking can exacerbate them, she adds.

Can I get rid of forehead wrinkles/frown lines?

It depends on how static or permanent they already are. “If the lines are deeply etched into the skin, you may not be able to completely eliminate them,” Dr. Houshmand says. “This is why I recommend patients start treatment when they first notice thin, fine lines, as it will prevent them from being fixed.” Prevention is easier than trying to treat the etched-in lines and can make a big difference, she adds.

What are the treatments for getting rid of 11 lines?

There are a few different routes you can go to both treat and prevent them, as well as other types of wrinkles.

Botox, lasers, and filler

Dermatology treatments like Botox, fillers, and resurfacing lasers are the most effective forms of both treatment and prevention of 11 lines, our experts say. Botox, an injection, works by temporarily freezing the muscles that contract to cause the wrinkles. Fillers, also an injection, may fill in deepened lines. Laser treatments can help soften the appearance of existing lines by improving skin tone and texture.

One caveat about fillers: “Hyaluronic acid fillers may be injected into static 11 lines to help soften their appearance. However, this approach is not recommended due to high risk of complications including vision loss,” says Dr. Syidzinski.

Topical treatments

There are also topical treatments that, if used consistently, can soften lines and prevent new ones from forming. “Don’t overlook the power of daily and consistent sunscreen use, which will help prevent UV damage and may prevent premature aging,” says Dr. Syidzinski. Jackie Spagnuolo, A.G.-N.P., an aesthetic nurse practitioner and owner of Beauty Nurse NYC adds that other powerful, line-preventing ingredients to include in your skincare routine are retinoids, which promote cell turnover and boost collagen, peptides, which help stimulate collagen production, and hyaluronic acid, which hydrates and plumps skin. “Consistency is key,” and so is staying hydrated and maintaining a healthy diet, she adds.

Facial treatments

Spagnuolo also recommends getting regular chemical peels and microneedling—a facial treatment that creates temporary micro wounds to encourage collagen production—to enhance skin cell turnover and prevent aging. Chemical peels, specifically, “remove the outer layer of skin, promoting new skin growth,” she adds.

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