Will A Vermilionectomy Help My Severely Dry Lips?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I have been suffering from extremely dry lips for several years.  They are painful, inflamed, and become red throughout the day. My dermatologist prescribed several topical medications, but they did not work. I have consulted with him about a lip procedure called vermillionectomy using lasers that may provide the results I need to increase moisture to my lips. I have attached a picture of my lips for you to see my problem.

A: Thank you for sending your picture. In looking at it it appears the entire vermilion (red part of the lip may be involved….the picture is a little grainy) Then procedure of a vermilionectomy basically removes the dry part of the vermilion and moves out the wet part of the vermilion to the skin edges. This type of lip procedure is normally reserved for patients (usually older) in whom lip cancer involves the dry vermilion and it must be removed and reconstructed. It would work for the very dry lips because it is being replaced with vermilion which has salivary glands in it. It would make your lips, however, usually a little smaller and probably with a little less pout. (fullness) It could be regarded as an ‘extreme’ treatment for dry lips but, if the condition is severe enough, this may justify that surgical effort.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana