Q: Dr. Eppley, I am a 42 year-old white female who has the beginnings of lip lines. I don’t smoke and have never tanned excessively. I have fairly pale skin. While my lips have never been really big they have never been thin either and have always had good shape. I have noticed over the past few years that I am getting several noticeable lines in my upper lip. My lipstick now is starting to bleed into the upper lip along these lines. My lips still have some shape but they are beginning to lose their shapes. What can I do to get rid of these lines and get some plumpness back to my lips?
A: Vertical lip lines or wrinkles are one of the peskiest facial aging problems. They are not easy to treat and they are relentless…always fighting to come back no matter what is done. Lips lines, like all wrinkles, appear because of underlying muscle action. The mouth is encircled by a ring of muscle known as the orbicularis oris. Anytime you pucker your lips or suck on a straw, this muscle is activated and contracts. Wrinkles appear on the overlying lip skin perpendicular to the direction of the muscle movement, thus the appearance of vertical lip lines. The thinner the lips one has (most common in Caucasian females), the more likely that lip lines will appear. Since it is impossible and impractical to completely stop moving your mouth (although not sucking on a cigarette or water bottle helps), treatments must be directed toward either inducing some muscle weakness (dilute Botox injections) and/or plumping up the lips by injectable fillers. In more advanced lip aging with a greater number and deeper lines, laser resurfacing or dermabrasion must be considered.
Dr. Barry Eppley