Kiss Your Lip Lines Good-Bye

Everyone likes to pucker up from time to time, but that pursing motion-along with aging, collagen and elastin loss-can cause those tiny vertical lines to develop across the top of your upper lip. Not only do these lines make you look older, but they also cause your lipstick to bleed beyond your lips. However, you can keep these fine lines at bay or diminish them if they've started to appear. Here's how:

Stop smoking: The continual pursing of your lips, along with the cellular damage smoking causes, will break down the collagen that keeps your lips looking soft and supple.

Moisturize and exfoliate: The sun and other environmental elements will cause your lips to dry out, so be sure to use a lip balm regularly that includes ingredients like honey or hyaluronic acid. You'll also want to slough away dry skin with a gentle lip exfoliator once a week.

Go for nudes: If you like a glossy finish to your lips, choose nude shades that complement your skin tone, since darker tones are more apt to emphasize the lines. Play up your eye makeup, instead.

Resurface the skin: You can target those tiny lines with fractional lasers, dermabrasion or chemical peels in various strengths, depending on how pronounced your lines have become. Pigmentation changes may be an issue for the sensitive skin around your lips after a laser or peel treatment, so be sure to discuss this with your dermatologist.

Fill in lines: Fillers injected into the lips must be done with the utmost care to avoid overly filled or “duck” lips. Be sure to seek out a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon who has extensive experience in filling lips so that you can smooth the lines and achieve a natural look for your lips. Your physician may also suggest a small injection of a neurotoxin such as Botox, or Dysport to lessen the muscle movement that can cause the lines to form.

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I was advised long ago that vertical lip lines are a clear indication of lack of estrogen and as excess estrogen has been linked with breast cancer try and accept your vertical lines graciously as far better a few lines than cancer. Some topical cosmetics reduce look and less risky than medical procedures which aren't always successful in this area. The lines also tend, like so many things, to be hereditary. My mother has vertical lip lines and has never smoked or been a fan of sunshine - in all other respects her skin belies her age - sometimes we just have to work with what we are given - I have lip lines but no crows feet so give and take I guess and be glad for good health.
Posted August 10, 2014 5:39 PM EDT
Pearl Dworkin / Esthetician
I recommend very light peels such as lactic or polyhydroxys around the lips and using a serum with hyaluronic acid (to plump), peptides (to lift), ECGC, Grapeseed Extract around the lips and infusing it with an Opal! It's a great way to stave off getting injectable and if you do get them it might just make them last longer!
Posted November 19, 2013 9:07 PM EST
I am 46 y/o and was dx with dermatomyositis with limited scleroderma over 10 years ago. I have never smoked. As a result, the area between my nose and mouth has become horribly disfigured. As a result, society has a tendency to treat those individuals in these situations as outcasts. The discrimination can be very depressing and overwhelming. What tx's would be acceptable for a person in my situation? Thank you in advance for whatever advice you may offer.
Posted November 17, 2013 12:51 PM EST
Heaven forbid that vertical lip lines are an age giveaway. What a sin to be old!!!! People can be so shallow and self-centered!! You are all going to get old no matter what!! Just age gracefully....
Posted October 25, 2013 6:59 PM EDT
I have had lip lines since my 30's but now above my lip looks like a dry dessert, it is just horrible and I do not notice it as much but when I put my reading glasses on I could just cry,,,,I am now 58 and smoke and will quit for my health. I can deal with the crows feet but this really tugs on me, I hate looking in the mirror...I am no overly vain but I just wish there was something that would get rid of these....Wish there was something HELP
Posted March 10, 2013 11:13 AM EDT
what about deep lines between the nose and lips they are impossible! I have never smoked.
Posted January 15, 2013 11:08 AM EST
Doctors should be numbing patients prior to filler injections, it makes the experience much less painful...especially the lips! I can't believe all doctors don't do this!
Posted April 21, 2012 8:27 AM EDT

One thing about fillers in the lip area is that it reeeally hurts getting that injected. From what I've heard, Botox isn't the best idea around the lips because you end up talking funny. So what I've heard is a minimal amount of filler with some laser skin resurfacing!
Posted April 17, 2012 6:06 PM EDT
Dr. Patrick Byrne
These lip lines are a tell tale sign of aging. We find that injectables can work pretty well in most patients. Conservative use of Botox or Dysport, along with some filler. Often I will dilute the hyaluronic acid and inject quite superficially into the lines, then massage the material into the tissue to get the best result. Dermabrasion can produce great improvement (surgical dermabrasion, not microdermabrasion), but must be done only in the right patients to be low risk.
Posted April 17, 2012 7:33 AM EDT
Dr. Mark Beaty
Vertical lip lines are challenging to treat and in my experience usually require combination therapy. The gold standard for this area remains skin resurfacing which can be accomplished by various combinations of laser, nitrogen plasma or chemical resurfacing. Dermabrasion may be useful as well for particularly deep lines. Botox and injectable fillers can provide improvement but must be used judiciously by an experienced surgeon to achieve a natural appearance. I have begun to use microfocused ultrasound therapy for vertical lip lines as well with good results.
Posted April 16, 2012 4:11 PM EDT
Dr. Yadro Ducic
As one ages, there is a loss of volume in most of the tissues of the lower face including the lips. As the volume is lost, the overlying red of the lip will wrinkle more. Some patients do well with fillers or fat grafting to enhance the volume and fill in the wrinkles from below. There is also some laxity that forms in the collagen over time (made worse by smoking and sun exposure). This will cause the lips, especially the upper one, to turn inwards and appear smaller as one ages. This problem is not made better with injections as it can give you an unnatural-looking set of lips. Instead, a lip lift works well to improve the volume and position of the lips.
Posted April 15, 2012 3:43 AM EDT

My provider injects just 2 units of Botox on each side of the pucker (4 total) to relax those muscle just enough so the lines are minimal. I love the results and, although it doesn't last long, it maintains my lips line. So far, at 49, I've been able to stop the lines. Thankfully, I also stopped smoking the 5 cigs a day I used to smoke 5 years ago!
Posted April 12, 2012 8:35 PM EDT
Louise S.
At 42 my issue is definitely more with my laugh lines. I've been debating on whether I should try Botox or Radiesse. Any suggestions?
Posted April 11, 2012 4:06 PM EDT
Combination therapy is often the best approach to stubborn lip lines. Fractional resurfacing induces collagen remodeling to smooth the texture of the skin. Very low doses of botulinum toxin can be injected into the 'pucker' to relax the muscle and careful use of injectable filler will replace lost volume (if any) around the lip. The injector must preseve normal lip proportions and use a light touch to yield the best results, so make sure you are treated by a highly experienced professional.
Posted April 11, 2012 1:53 PM EDT
Lip lines are among the more challenging things to treat, for several reasons. One is that muscle activity (pursing the lipos as with smoking) is a major cause; Botox or Dysport which are normally the first line of treatment for wrinkles from hyperactive muscles, have to be used with extreme caution or the normal motion of the lips can be affected. (As for using straws, consder that smokers are repeatedly doing it throughout the day, not just with a drink at mealtime.) Another reason is that the lines are often too superficial to treat directly with injections. Volume replacement with fillers needs to be done with a lot of artistry and with consideration to the entire lip in order to avoid the overdone look.
Posted April 11, 2012 11:32 AM EDT
Drs. Wendell Smoot, Reza Sadrian, Carol Hollan & John Smoot
Resurfacing this area with a microlaser peel or a profractional laser works really well to help diminish the lines and improve this area. There is minimal downtime and usually more than one treatment is needed. The fillers also work really well to diminish these lines and give a smoother appearance.
Posted April 11, 2012 10:42 AM EDT
Dr. J. Charles Finn
Deep lip lines are VERY difficult to treat. The key here is PREVENTION!! NO smoking, good sunscreen use are the keys to prevention. Careful treatments with a botulinum toxin (Botox, Dysport or Xeomin) is great at preventing lines when they are spotted early. Artistic use of fillers are the next line of defense, but don't over-do it! Resurfacing with a fractionated CO2 laser is the next tool, but expect about 30% improvement. Above all, find a physician with hands on experience with ALL techniques AND a good artistic eye.
Posted April 11, 2012 8:16 AM EDT
My BFF and I argue about drinking out of straws all the time! I told her she's better off drinking more water and other liquids with less coloring and not using a straw so often THAN drinking whatever she wants and using a straw all the time! The amount of money it will cost down the road for teeth bleaching will most likely be cheaper than the injections she'll need from all that straw usage. She thinks the idea that straws cause wrinkles around her lips is an old wive's tale. I'd love an expert's advice so we can settle this debate. Thank you!!!
Posted April 11, 2012 7:19 AM EDT
Why not just get restlyane?
Posted April 11, 2012 7:04 AM EDT
My top lip folds under when I smile for pictures, would fillers help this?
Posted April 11, 2012 5:31 AM EDT
A tip my grandmother taught me when I was young, apply vaseline and then gently scrub with a baby toothbrush, it's more gentle than an adult one. I also sleep with vaseline on my lips every night. At 45 I still have beautiful lips, thanks gran!
Posted April 11, 2012 5:29 AM EDT
My dermatologist also told me not to use straws. Just like smoking, this can also cause wrinkles around your lips.
Posted April 11, 2012 5:16 AM EDT

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