Keeping Crow’s Feet From Clawing

crows_feet_manCrow’s feet are named for the lines that develop around the eyes and extend outward onto the cheeks and toward the ears.  The appearance of these lines is thought to be similar to a crow’s footprint, and is obviously not a very appealing reference.

These lines result from a repeated contraction of the circular muscle around the eye.  This muscle, known as the orbicularis oculi, is responsible for the motion we make when we squint or smile broadly.

Unfortunately, even though smiling is generally a positive and attractive activity, repeated movement of any muscle over the skin area, particularly a very thin layer of skin such as around the eye, will result in the formation of lines over time.  These pesky lines, when they persist, give an appearance of tiredness and aging.

After helping many people deal with these lines over the past decade, I recommend a 3-pronged approach:

1. Protect and Prevent

eye sunscreenYou need to protect this area to prevent lines from forming or decrease lines that are already present.  Wearing sunscreen daily will help protect this delicate skin from the aging and damaging effects of the sun.

Wearing sunglasses will also prevent squinting, which results in unnecessary movement of the periorbital muscle.  In general, prevention of glare that also results in squinting is also important.

That means using reading glasses when appropriate.  Glare-resistant filters over computers are also helpful.

2. Treat the Skin Around the Eyes Topically

You need to treat the area around the eyes topically to rejuvenate the effects of damage and aging.  I generally recommend that all who are concerned about crow’s feet and/or puffiness around the eyes use eye creams to help soften and moisturize this thin skin area.

At the Maine Laser Skin Care office and on our website, we offer and recommend several eye gels and lotions that help lessen puffiness and lines by tightening and lightening effect.

3. Longer-Term Solutions

There are longer term solutions that are more involved but do give more lasting and dramatic results:

A. Botox

botox-injection-eyesBotox is without question the best treatment for this area.  Doctors have used Botox for years around the eyes and it has finally been FDA approved in September 2013.

Through injections of very small amounts of Botox (usually 3 or 4 on each side),  the periorbital muscle is relaxed and the overlying skin becomes smoother in appearance.  I generally prefer a conservative number of units injected so that the individual can still smile naturally but not strongly enough to result in deep lines forming.  This results in a natural, relaxed look without appearing frozen and fake.

B. Collagen Tightening Treatments

Both laser and radio frequency technologies that we have here at Maine Laser Skin Care can be used to heat up the area under the skin.  This heat tightens existing collagen and shows some immediate benefit.

pelleve_eyeGenerally a series of treatment are needed to maintain this effect as well as causing a longer term effect of stimulating the cells that produce collagen to step up and produce more.  I generally prefer the radio frequency techniques around the eyes such as Pellevé because we can get very close to the eyes and eyelids and get maximal results.

Unfortunately, due to need for eye protection, I can not get close enough to the eye with lasers to meet produce desired effects.  Future technology may make such an effect possible, and I will let you know when or if such developments occur.


So there is hope.  You can win the battle against crow’s feet in the midst of the general wage against the aging process.  You can prevent them with sun and glare protection, protect the skin with use of the right products around the eye, and finally, correct existing lines with the appropriate interventions discussed above.

About Dr. John Burke

John Burke M.D. has practiced medicine for over 25 years, and is the founding partner of MidMaine Internal Medicine. He established Maine Laser Skin Care in 2004 after devoting years to learning the latest in laser and dermatologic technology. Dr. Burke has treated patients from all over the United States. He is one of Maine's busiest practitioners in laser treatments, and in the use of Botox for upper facial lines and excessive sweating.
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