The Difference Between Wrinkles and Rhytides

The Difference Between Wrinkles and Rhytides

While a wrinkle may just seem like a wrinkle, you might be surprised to know that there are actually different types that can impact the ways in which they can be effectively prevented and treated. Once you’re able to understand the differences between wrinkles and rhytides, you’ll be able to better customize your anti-aging toolkit to get the results you want.

Wrinkles vs. Rhytides

It’s a subtle difference, but if you’re interested in medical aesthetic treatments, your provider may distinguish between wrinkles and rhytides. While rhytides can be a term that’s tossed around as a stand-in for wrinkles, the two aren’t exactly the same. For the most part, rhytides are fine lines and minor creases that appear first, while wrinkles are the deeper folds or creases that often follow rhytides. Seeking treatments for rhytides can be the most effective way to keep skin looking smooth and firm, but there are solutions for deeper-set wrinkles as well.

How wrinkles and rhytides form can be complex, and there are various factors that come into play that can cause wrinkles. However, there’s one more set of wrinkle types to consider that can be useful in determining the right course of treatment and its overall impact.

Static vs. Dynamic: Two More Types of Wrinkles

Regardless of where wrinkles occur on the face and body, they can be divided into two more general categories:

  •  Static: Static rhytides and wrinkles develop from the effects of gravity and a loss of skin elasticity, such as on the jowls or cleavage wrinkles.
  •  Dynamic: Dynamic rhytides and wrinkles develop from repetitive movements, facial expressions, or habits, such as squinting.

The following are just some examples of dynamic wrinkles that may crop up over time with repeated expressions:

  • Forehead wrinkles
  • Worry lines (vertical wrinkles between the brows)
  • Bunnies (creases at the bridge of the nose)
  • Crow’s feet (lines around the eyes)
  • Laugh lines (wrinkles around the nose and lips)
  • Smoker’s wrinkles (pucker lines around the edges of the lips)

It’s important to note that dynamic and static wrinkles may begin as rhytides and develop into wrinkles, but dynamic rhytides can also become static wrinkles over time. For example, dynamic rhytides around the eyes (or fine lines caused by laughing or squinting) may morph into deeper static wrinkles as skin around the eyes becomes thinner and more fragile with age.

The Top Aesthetic Treatments for Wrinkles and Rhytides

There are a couple of options for treating wrinkles and rhytides that you may consider.


Injectables can offer temporary plumping effects for both static and dynamic facial wrinkles. They may also be used to relax muscles, reducing the appearance of dynamic wrinkles caused by muscle tension. However, there are a couple limitations with these treatments. To begin, injectables are best used in smaller treatment areas, meaning they are only a potential solution for targeted facial wrinkles. Secondly, they do not support skin health, meaning they mask the appearance of a decline in collagen and elastin—two essential building blocks that help to keep skin firm, plump, and smooth—rather than actually boosting production. In all, injectables may be an option for a quick smoothing solution for fine lines before a big event, but may not be the best long-term solution for deep-set wrinkles.

Chemical Peels and Dermabrasion

Chemical peels and dermabrasion remove the upper layer of skin while prompting the natural skin cell renewal process for a smoother, brighter surface. Like injectables, these treatments don’t dive deep to support skin’s natural collagen and elastin production levels. As a result, chemical peels and dermabrasion may smoothen rough texture and reduce the appearance of static and dynamic rhytides, but they often fall short in fending off the appearance of deeper-set wrinkles and preventing the continued development of wrinkles. It’s also important to note that significant downtime can be expected following these types of treatments and for those with darker skin tones, they come with a higher risk of discoloration.



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