Written by Shawn Candela for Avima.com
There are several potential treatment options for an asymmetrical mouth, which depend on the cause of the asymmetry and how invasive a remedy a patient is willing to consider.
Perhaps the most common and least-invasive treatment for asymmetry of the mouth is the use of a dermal filler. In this procedure, a cosmetic surgeon injects a gel — usually one made from hyaluronic acid — into the lower or sagging part of the mouth in order to build it up to align with the rest of the mouth.
One of the benefits of this treatment is that hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance in the human body found in its highest concentrations in the eyes and joints. Because it is natural, it poses no health risk, and it is also easily dissolvable if the treatment fails or needs to be redone.
Although the injection of a dermal filler is a minimally invasive procedure, candidates are expected to be in good health and be nonsmokers. They also will be expected to maintain good skin health after the work is completed.
Another common option for correcting asymmetry of the mouth is the use of Botox, a neurotoxic protein, often in conjunction with a dermal filler. Botox is a toxin typically used in plastic surgery to weaken or paralyze muscles and block nerve signals. It is most popularly used in facelifts that tend to freeze the skin in place.
It should be noted that Botox can cause pain and swelling at the site of injection, flu-like symptoms, headaches and other temporary issues. It should not be used by pregnant women or those who are breastfeeding. Since Botox is technically a poison, the benefits should always be weighed against the possible side-effects.
On the plus side, dermal fillers and Botox are quick procedures that are easily controlled and can be removed or replaced if needed. On the minus side, the results are temporary, and retreatments will be required at regular intervals to restore the mouth’s symmetry. Temporary swelling and bruising are also common after the procedure.
In regards to the cause of the asymmetry of the mouth, it is critical to understand that the above options should be considered only in cases of genetic or longstanding mouth asymmetry. Sudden mouth asymmetry is cause for alarm and requires immediate medical attention, as it can be the result of a stroke or Bell’s palsy, which is a type of temporary weakening or paralysis of one part of the face.
In some cases, especially those involving Bell’s palsy, a more invasive procedure might be employed to correct asymmetry of the mouth. This kind of procedure usually involves what is known as a sling, a type of insert under the skin, and these procedures can be designed to work only when the mouth is at rest (static) or when it is moving as well (dynamic).
The chief advantages to a static procedure are that it requires only a short hospital stay, is relatively quick, and does not have as high a failure risk as a dynamic procedure. On the other hand, a static procedure will only alleviate the mental discomfort of others noticing one’s mouth asymmetry when that person’s mouth is at rest.
One non-medical method that some people use to attempt to correct an asymmetrical mouth is exercise. This typically involves the constricting and loosening of the muscles around the mouth, such as through lip tightening — compressing the lips as if attempting to whistle and holding the position for several seconds — pursing the lips, and stretching the lips with mouth open and closed. This method of treatment might be helpful if the cause of the asymmetry is weak muscles on one side of the face.
Finally, a more recent innovation in fixing mouth asymmetry is via cosmetic tattooing, which might be able to permanently even out a crooked smile. But because of the permanence of such a measure and the relative newness of the method, it is imperative to consult with a medical professional before having any such work done.
It also should be noted that fixing an asymmetrical mouth is almost always a personal aesthetic choice and not medical need. In fact, many famous people have risen to fame despite (or perhaps partly thanks to) having an asymmetrical mouth, including actress Kristen Stewart, singer Alicia Keys and actor Andy Samberg.