'Botox bunny lines': the side effect you didn't realise had a name.

Image: Getty.

If you read the phrase ‘bunny lines’ in any other context, you’d probably assume it was referring to lengthy supermarket queues during Easter, or something you’d buy in a pet store.

In fact, this cutesy name has nothing much to do with rabbits at all. ‘Bunny lines’ describe straight, slightly diagonal lines that extend from both sides of the nose, beneath the bridge, when someone smiles or laughs. Presumably, they’re named as such because they vaguely resemble a pair of rabbit ears or whiskers.

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Like many facial expression lines, they can occur naturally if someone regularly crinkles their nose when they laugh, or through the process of ageing. However, bunny lines can also appear following botox injections — in this case, they’re sometimes nicknamed ‘Botox bunny lines’.

“Humans are naturally expressive, and when we stop movements in one area with Botox, we may notice greater movement in other areas,” Dr Naomi McCullum, Cosmetic Doctor at Sydney’s Dr Naomi clinic, explains. In this case, women who have naturally-occurring bunny lines might find them more obvious after having their forehead and eye area treated. (Post continues after gallery.)


The “recruitment” of other muscles in the face when making certain expressions can also cause the lines to appear, says Lisa Sullivan-Smith, co-director of The Clinic.

“The biggest muscle of the face is the glabella, or the ‘frown line’… by injecting Botox into the glabella the bunny lines may seem more evident,” Sullivan-Smith, who has 15 years of injecting experience, explains.

According to eagled-eyed ‘celebrity watchers’, bunny lines are a tell-tale sign of regular Botox users in Hollywood — Nicole Kidman, Madonna, Kim Cattrall and Kylie Minogue have all had fingers pointed at their noses. Yet this isn’t necessarily accurate, as not every Botox user will experience them.

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While Sullivan-Smith doesn’t consider ‘botox bunny lines’ an uncommon phenomenon — “bunny lines are evident in all clients but probably more evident in those clients who have Botox” — Dr McCullum sees them as a non-issue in her practice.

“I would say when discussing side-effects of Botox, things like spocking, or bruising, are much more relevant to patients,” she says.

Regardless of what causes them to appear, bunny lines can be softened with Botox injections if a patient is particularly concerned about them, which isn’t always the case. “It’s a really simple procedure, injecting approximately two units [of Botox] per side of each bunny line. The procedure is quick and often painless,” explains Sullivan-Smith.

"The goal of Botox is to highlight our features, not eradicate complete movement in our face."


Although it's not uncommon for patients to ask to have their bunny lines softened, both practitioners say they would rather encourage them to embrace any facial expression lines they develop.

"I'm happy to treat bunny lines, as it's a very small dose of Botox. However, most times I discourage the client and tell them it's nice to have a little bit of expression and it's quite natural to have bunny lines," Sullivan-Smith says, adding that other people won't often notice bunny lines unless a patient squints hard and wrinkles their nose.

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"15 years ago Botox clients had no movement in their face; today the fashion is to have movement in the face, to look natural and to look fresh. The goal of Botox is to highlight our features, not eradicate complete movement in our face."

"Unless they are really obvious, etched in, or out of proportion with the rest of the face, bunny lines don’t often make patients look particularly unattractive or old, so I’m not obsessed with completely stopping that movement," Dr McCullum adds.

"Preventative treatments, or softening them is fine, but our aim is to make people look gorgeous, not expressionless."

You can follow The Clinic on their website, blog, Facebook and Twitter, and Dr Naomi McCullum on her website, Facebook and Twitter.