You’re not a smoker, you’ve never smoked, yet you still have lip wrinkles. Or maybe you are a former smoker and you’ve got wrinkles left over that have gotten worse than when you were smoker. Or maybe you’re still smoking.
How to fix lip wrinkles or smokers lines?
I’ve got some solutions for you.
Let’s start by pointing out what the cause of these lip wrinkles are.
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Lip Wrinkle Causes
These lip wrinkles are caused by the orbicularis oris muscle, which is a circular muscle that extends around your mouth.
When you purse your lips, when you drink out of a straw, when you smoke, it causes that muscle to contract, creating these lines.
As we get older, those lines can get worse just from years and years of creating those creases over and over again.
I do believe that smokers have worse thing of it because they have more quicker aging of their skin. Smoke can dehydrate the skin as well, causing those wrinkles to be worse.
But even if you’re not a smoker, even if you’ve never smoked, there’s so many people that as they get older they suffer from these lip wrinkles.
So how do you remove them.
How to Fix Lip Wrinkles
The great thing is just over the last couple years there have been some new injectable fillers that are fairly effective for these lines.
If you were to have asked me just five years ago “hey what do you think works great for these,” we really didn’t have a whole lot of great fillers out there that would work for these lines. Those were actually too thick and to inject a thick filler into a fine line, would create ridges and lumps. It just didn’t look right.
Now there are a number of fillers out there and at least three are good for the upper lip lines and made for it.
Restylane Silk was the one that first came out. Restylane Silk is a version of Restylane, it’s a bit thinner that can be injected into the lip line as well as into some of the vertical lines above the lip.
It does appear to last anywhere from six to twelve months. It is a little bit thicker than the next two but can be used in a dual fashion. You can use it to plump the lips up as well as to fill in the lines.
That’s a very popular injectable treatment.
Juvederm Volbella came out next. It is a thinner version of Juvederm that can be injected into those specific lines.
This is not a great volumizer. If you want to fill in the lines and to make your lips a lot larger, than it may not be the best one for you.
But it’s it’s pretty darn good for just filling in the specific fine lines.
The great thing about Juvederm Volbella is that it can be injected fairly superficially to go after some of those lines that couldn’t be treated in the past.
Volbella lasts anywhere from 6 to 12 months, according to the company. We had found it to be a bit variable depending on the patient.
Restylane Refyne has been the newest one to come out on the market.It lasts about a year and this one is a very interesting one because it’s a very thin product that can be injected very superficially into these lines.
The great part of the product is that it is very mobile, it’s made for mobile parts of our face and so it doesn’t look and feel stiff or as stiff as some of the other fillers.
This is one that we’ve been really happy with so far, with filling in these types of lines. It is a very fine substance with good longevity from what we can see. It tends to fill those lines in very well.
If the lines are enough that you can fit a needle into them, then the injectable fillers are a great option.
What about Botox? Why not inject Botox?
It tends to make sense. Why not inject a bunch of Botox into orbicularis oris muscle so you can prevent yourself from pursing your lips?
That would work but the problem then is that your lips may move a bit funny.
There are some doctors who do inject a very conservative amount of Botox around the mouth to try to treat that area.
My feeling is that it’s kind of a high risk, low reward type of situation. The worry is that you get some migration and the person can’t talk that well or they have a crooked smile or something weird like that.
These are the three types of fillers that we typically recommend for filling in the smokers lines.
Here’s an example of Volbella treatment:
If you look closely, you can see some of those fine lines of the upper lip being treated by the Volbella, adding just a little bit of volume to the lips as well.
For those people who have a lot worse wrinkles and the wrinkles are very fine and plentiful (many former smokers as they’ve gotten older have them), dermabrasion is good option.
A dermabrasion is a treatment where we use a diamond-tipped burr to treat those wrinkles.
It’s a bit of an aggressive procedure. We only really go after the upper lip, we usually don’t do the lower.
The skin literally is bleeding on the surface. So it’s a pretty aggressive treatment.
What is the idea?
What are the wrinkles? They are a bunch of little creases in the skin and by sanding them down, we sand down that upper layer so that those creases that used to be very deep, now are much less deep.
It’s kind of getting rid that upper layer of skin to try to smooth things out.
The procedure itself is done in the operating room, it takes about a half an hour or so to perform. It is done under a general anesthetic. You are completely asleep.
When you wake up, you’ve got a dressing on that looks like a yellow piece of gauze. It’s a special dressing that we put on that will adhere to the skin and to the the blood that’s left there to act like a scab.
The problem with dermabrasion in the past was that people would dress it by putting ointment on it. It would be uncomfortable and people hated it.
Someone came up with this idea of using a special type of dressing, a yellow gauze dressing, that we can put right over that lip and it acts like a scab. The healing is absolutely painless and literally you just leave that there to dry like a scab and after about seven to ten days it will gradually peel off as the skin underneath it heals. It’s a great idea and it works really well.
The only problem with it is that you will be walking around for the first seven to ten days with yellow gauze stuck to your lip and that act looks pretty funny. But it does work really well with the recovery and then it comes off after about seven to ten days.
The upper lip is a little bit red afterwards but you should hopefully see that it’s a bit smoother, especially when you’ve got a lot of fine lines, like the patient on this picture:
It won’t get rid of all the lines completely, because that orbicularis oris muscle is always going to move, is going to counteract those results that we’re trying to get.
But this is a great way to reduce a lot of those fine lines.
I should let you know as well that because it goes fairly deep in the skin, it can cause some pigment issues and so we only perform the procedure on people with Caucasian skin.
The worry is that in somebody with darker skin, as we go deeper in the skin, we can affect the melanin or the color of the skin. It can result in a very light or very dark colored upper lip compared to the rest of the face.
What are the risks of dermabrasion?
I just mentioned the risk of pigment irregularities. If you’ve got a lot of sun damaged skin, if you’re really tan, if you’ve got darker skin, maybe not a good idea to do dermabrasion.
The other thing is if you have a history of cold sores. That’s something to let us know before we do the procedure, because it can cause those outbreak of cold sores if we don’t put you on a prophylactic medication, which we do in most patients.
There’s always risks of scarring. If the dermabrasion goes too deep, there’s always a risk of a scar. Extremely uncommon, but something you need to know about.
There’s a risk of developing an infection should be very minimal.
And there’s a risk that maybe we won’t get as many of those wrinkles down as you want. We’re not treating the main cause. We’re not treating that muscle that’s creating those wrinkles. we are treating the wrinkles on the surface.
The dermabrasion is a very nice treatment done in the operating room. It’s for those people who want to be more aggressive and really want sanding those wrinkles down.
However, if the wrinkles aren’t that bad or you don’t want surgery, then the fillers are great option for a lot of patients.
If you are a smoker or even a non smoker or a former smoker and you’ve got those lip wrinkles, then we do have some solutions for you.
I hope this has been helpful for you to decide what is your best option to fix this problem.
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Rebecca is a licensed aesthetician and certified laser technician with almost 15 years experience in the dermatology. Her life-long passion is making people look good and happy.