Treating, Concealing, and Preventing Crow’s Feet

Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN on September 29, 2017Written by Corinne O’Keefe Osborn on September 29, 2017

Overview

As you age, your skin undergoes gradual changes. Some parts of the face are more susceptible than others to the signs of aging, including the delicate eye area. Crow’s feet, a common concern, are those little lines spreading out from the corners of your eyes. Crow’s feet develop over time because of tiny muscle contractions that happen every time you make a facial expression.

There are two different types of wrinkles: dynamic and static. Dynamic wrinkles are those that appear during muscle contraction. If your crow’s feet are primarily visible when you are smiling, they are probably dynamic. Static wrinkles may worsen with muscle contraction, but they are visible all the time, even when the face is at rest.

No matter which type of crow’s feet you have, there are treatment options available. In some people, the signs of crow’s feet can be completely reversed, at least temporarily. There are also many steps you can take at home to help conceal crow’s feet.

Treatment

The treatment you choose will depend on the severity of the crow’s feet and your desired outcome. In some cases, you may want to try a combination of treatments.

Topical creams

You can fight fine lines and wrinkles with both prescription and over-the-counter topical creams. Tretinoin (Retin-A) is widely used to fight the signs of aging because it stimulates the production of new skin. There are also many antiaging moisturizers that are similarly effective. They may help reduce the appearance of fine lines around the eyes, but will not improve deep crow’s feet. Results of topical creams are usually seen within 24 weeks.

Botulinum toxin (Botox)

Botox works to smooth out wrinkles caused by repetitive muscles contractions that happen when you make facial expressions. This treatment is very effective for crow’s feet.

Botox is best suited for people age 30–50 whose wrinkles are just starting to develop. It’s not effective on the deep wrinkles common among older adults.

Botox is injected directly into the affected area with a small needle, which causes the muscles to relax. Botox prevents the muscles from contracting, which can reduce the appearance of wrinkles or cause them to disappear entirely. Botox is particularly effective in people with dynamic wrinkles.

Botox will not keep you from making facial expressions. It will only target those muscles around the eyes that are causing your crow’s feet. The effects typically last about 3 months.

Chemical peels

Chemical peels can improve the appearance of crow’s feet and promote younger, healthier looking skin. This is accomplished by putting a chemical solution on the face that removes the outer layer of old skin, leaving behind new, smoother skin.

There are three different types of chemical peels:

  • superficial peels
  • medium-depth peels
  • deep peels

Superficial peels can be done with a certified esthetician, but deeper peels should be done in your healthcare provider’s office. The effects of the peel and the recovery time involved will depend on the type of peel you get.

Superficial peels are relatively painless and require little or no down time. Deeper peels can be very painful, and may even require anesthesia. For best results, superficial peels should be repeated every 2–4 weeks and medium-depth peels every 6–12 months until the desired results are achieved.

Dermal fillers

Dermal fillers, also called soft-tissue fillers, can also be used to treat crow’s feet. Some dermal fillers you may use include:

  • Juvederm
  • Radiesse
  • Restylane
  • Sculptra
  • Belotero

Dermal fillers are injected directly into crow’s feet with a small needle. The different fillers available have slightly different components, and some are more permanent than others. Talk to your healthcare provider about which one is right for your skin type.

Dermal fillers are particularly effective for static crow’s feet, which appear constantly, even when the face is at rest. The effects of dermal fillers usually last anywhere from 3–12 months, but they can last longer.

Laser resurfacing

Ablative laser resurfacing is a procedure that removes the upper layers of skin, revealing newer, younger looking skin. Laser resurfacing works well for crow’s feet because it heats up several layers of skin, which promotes collagen production. Increased collagen production can help the skin around the eyes heal in a smoother, more even way.

You may be given pain medicine before the procedure. The procedure involves a laser wand focused on the face. Your face may be wrapped in a dressing for several days after the procedure. Complete heeling can take several weeks.

Laser resurfacing tightens skin, and claims to make you look 10–20 years younger. Results last for up to 10 years. Laser resurfacing may not completely eliminate crow’s feet, so doctors may combine it with other techniques, such as Botox injections.

How to conceal crow’s feet

Crow’s feet are tough to conceal, but here are a few tips:

  • Apply a moisturizing eye cream in the morning and night before applying makeup.
  • Try using a silicone-based primer to fill in the deep “valleys” of your wrinkles and create a smoother appearance.
  • Go easy on the concealer and foundation. Heavy makeup makes wrinkles more pronounced. Try a light to medium coverage foundation or a beauty balm.
  • If you don’t have time to get a new foundation, try applying your current one with a damp sponge. Blend it well for flawless, light coverage.
  • Don’t use loose powder on your crow’s feet. It can settle in your wrinkles.
  • Draw attention away from your eyes by skipping false eyelashes, shimmery eye shadow, and dark liquid liners. Instead, use a highlighter on your cheeks and a dramatic lipstick.

Prevention

Crow’s feet are a natural part of getting older, but there are some things you can do to limit the severity of these wrinkles and slow down their development.

  • Limit sun exposure. Wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more when you’re in the sun, even for short periods of time. And wear a hat and sunglasses!
  • Wear sunscreen daily. Try a moisturizer or foundation with SPF 15+.
  • Eat healthy. A diet full of fresh fruit, veggies, whole grains, and healthy oils can protect skin from damage by free radicals.
  • Exercise. Daily exercise gets the blood moving, which brings oxygen to the skin.
  • Wear polarized sunglasses. Keep the eye area protected with big sun-blocking shades.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking produces free radicals in the body, which makes wrinkles appear sooner.
  • Never use tanning beds.
  • Use moisturizers and eye creams with collagen and antioxidants, such as Vitamin C.

The takeaway

Crow’s feet are a normal part of aging, but there are many treatment options available to reduce their appearance. Some of these treatments are quite costly, so focus on prevention while you still can. If it’s too late for that, talk to your healthcare provider about your options. Chemical peels and Botox are among the more affordable treatments.

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