Here’s how to smooth eye wrinkles, according to a plastic surgeon

Fine lines and wrinkles are a natural part of the aging process.

While there’s no way to prevent wrinkles from forming (full-stop), topical creams and cosmetic treatments can help rejuvenate the skin around your eyes. There’s retinoids, Botox, resurfacing procedures and more, but there’s no singular “right” answer when it comes to smoothing the appearance of eye wrinkles.

The course of action that’s best for you will largely depend on what you’re hoping to achieve in your skin goals. We’ll break down everything you need to know about eye wrinkles, from how they form to the preventative measures you can take, to revitalize and brighten your skin.

How do eye wrinkles develop?

There are two main types of wrinkles that can form around the eye — static and dynamic wrinkles. Dynamic wrinkles are caused by the repeated contraction of the muscle, says Dr. Anthony Youn, MD, FACS, a board-certified plastic surgeon based in Troy, Michigan. Those can come from things like laughing, smiling and frowning, for example.

In the case of crow’s feet, which are “wrinkles that radiate out from the side of the eyes,” the contraction of the orbicularis oculi causes your eyes to squint, he explains.

Static wrinkles, on the other hand, develop as part of the natural aging process. Over time, both gravity and the thinning of collagen contribute to the development of wrinkles on the upper and lower eyelids, he adds.

How can I reduce wrinkles around my eyes?

When it comes to non-invasive, topical treatments, retinoid products are your best line of defense when it comes to slowing the formation of under-eye wrinkles. By combating the thinning of the skin, retinoids help smooth fine lines and alleviate crepiness, Youn says. Retin-A, also known as tretinoin, is a prescription-strength derivative of vitamin A that has been scientifically shown to stimulate the production of collagen and soften fine lines and wrinkles. Retinol eye creams, which you can find over the counter, have similar benefits. While OTC retinol products aren’t as strong as tretinoin, they’re still effective at dissipating fine lines, according to a 2021 study.

There’s also peptide-based creams, which work by sending small chains of messenger proteins to stimulate skin cells, creating more collagen, per Healthline. Peptides can be especially great if you have sensitive skin, Youn says. However, there have been less studies conducted on the efficacy of using peptides to treat fine lines and wrinkles. For this reason, “if I had to pick between a retinol and a peptide, I’d go with the retinol,” he expresses.

Also, don’t skip on your sunscreen in the morning, Youn notes. It’s a simple preventative measure that you can take to protect the skin around your eyes, and face in general. Long-standing evidence confirms that prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) rays contributes to the thinning of the skin, a loss of elasticity, and the development of creases and lines.

What cosmetic treatments help eye wrinkles?

While topical treatments are certainly beneficial in improving the appearance of wrinkles around the eyes, you may see greater results if you supplement these methods with cosmetic treatments. To his patients, Youn recommends this “combination approach.”

More: She nearly died from 'rare' Botox complications. Is Botox safe?

According to studies, the injection of a neurotoxin such as botulinum toxin A, also known as Botox, prevents the contraction of muscles. In the case of dynamic eye wrinkles, Botox can effectively mitigate the formation of crow’s feet, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. However, Botox won’t help with the eradication of static fine lines, Youn says. Rather, there is evidence that suggests fractional laser resurfacing can effectively treat wrinkles and fine lines around the eyes.

As for surgeries, “there's nothing you can do with a scalpel that can smooth out fine lines,” Youn says. If you want to improve eyelid creasing, a blepharoplasty surgery can be performed to remove the excess skin that sits near the eye. However, the removal of redundant skin isn’t going to get rid of any wrinkles, he says.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How you can smooth eye wrinkles with Botox, retinol and more