Can a Laser Fix Your Biggest Lip Woes?

Can a Laser Fix Your Biggest Lip Woes? featured image
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Perfectly plump, lifted, and contoured lips have never fallen out of style. For years, surgical lip lifts and injectable fillers have been the go-to methods for added definition, a crisp lip border, and natural-looking height. But like all things in beauty, there’s a new and innovative way to treat the lips now. Enter: the lip laser. Ahead, we’re sharing everything you need to know about the treatment and why more patients are trading in filler for lip lasers, which dermatologists say equates to a more natural contour and look overall.

What Is a Laser Lip Treatment?

A laser lip treatment is exactly what it sounds like: a resurfacing laser used to improve and rejuvenate the lips and buff out fine lines and wrinkles while adding a natural increase of volume and accentuating the shape of the lips. Beverly Hills, CA dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD often recommends using the LipLase treatment with the Fotona Dynamis Pro device. “The treatment relies on a combination of heat and efficient skin surfacing using the ultra-high performance erbium and Nd:YAG lasers to both tone and tighten the lips,” she says.

New York dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD explains that lasers are now used to treat common lip concerns because they can rejuvenate the skin around the lips for a more natural look. “The MIRIA laser, in particular, increases the vascularity of the lip area and addresses unwanted vertical lines,” she shares. “It also restores the natural definition of lips and stimulates collagen and elastin from within, giving the lips some natural lift.” Dr. Peredo adds that lasers, like MIRIA, can also refresh the lips to look like they did years ago while restoring the original pigmentation.

At-home LED laser masks and tools, which stimulate new collagen and increase blood flow, also fall into the lip laser category, although not technically laser-like treatments performed in-office. “While at-home laser treatments are fine, it’s important to know that they will only penetrate the epidermal layer of skin to a certain degree,” Dr. Peredo says. “A high-energy laser with a unique focal precision technology and intense magnification allows me to focus on the concerns, treating a deeper layer of the dermis and restoring a natural look that we can enhance with fillers, if necessary.”

How Lip Lasers Work

Facial lasers are used externally on the skin to rejuvenate it, but when treating the lips, Dr. Shamban shares that the laser is used both inside the lip and externally on the skin. “This helps to give the appearance and result of lift and volume,” she adds.

As Dr. Shamban explains, lasers can treat the entire anatomic unit, which includes the vermillion or pink part of the lip as well as the cutaneous or white part of the lip, helping to reduce the look of upper lip barcode lines while also adding fullness to the outline of the lips. “With a laser, we add to the treatment story by shortening the elongated area, which neither filler nor toxin can achieve. Energy effectively shortens the area by tightening and boosting collagen.” The only alternative to achieving what a laser can do for the lips is a surgical lip lift, albeit effective and dramatic, but with the downside of scars (they are well hidden).

Although lasers used on the lips are a safe and effective alternative to fillers, only a trained dermatologist should perform these treatments. “Lasers are complex, advanced devices, and in the wrong hands, can burn the skin,” Dr. Shamban warns.

Lip Lasers Vs. Lip Filler

Lip filler has been the go-to treatment for augmenting the lips for years. “Injectable fillers volumize the lips and injecting them with a neuromodulator, aka the lip flip, will change muscle movement of the lip area to evert the lip,” Dr. Shamban explains. But lip lasers work towards an entirely different goal with more of a smoothing effect on texture. Still, Dr. Peredo shares that filler may be necessary if volume is needed. The same goes for neuromodulators in the upper lip to give it a roll-out result.

Unlike traditional lip fillers, which can potentially lead to lumps and bumps and migrating filler, a lip laser is far safer, which reduces the risk of complications.

Taking a Combination Approach

When it comes to most elective cosmetic treatments, a combination approach that incorporates other technologies or energy modalities is usually best. And that’s the case when using lasers on the lips. “Combination therapy is often a big part of consideration when treating patients with concerns around their lips and mouth,” Dr. Peredo says. 

Laser treatment consisting of heat-based energy plus ablative resurfacing is the best. Dr. Shamban also likes adding Sofwave to the mix when treating the upper lip. “It is an ultrasound-based device to tighten and boost collagen and elastin, helping to reduce the barcode lines and lift the area.”

What Else You Need to Know

Almost anyone with signs of aging to and around the lips is a good candidate for a lip laser. Since the laser can cause permanent pigments placed into the lips via lip blushing and permanent makeup to break down the color and potentially alter the results, let your dermatologist know if you have permanent makeup on your lips.

There is some downtime with a laser lip treatment, but nothing that will leave you out of commission for long. Light flaking and peeling of the lips is normal and surfaces about five to seven days after the treatment. Applying Aquaphor to the lips will help keep them hydrated and help with any tightness you may feel. Then, a couple of months later, the results, which include natural fullness, smoother texture to the lips, and more youthful-looking lips overall, can be seen but will require maintenance to stay that way.

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