Fillers: A weapon to banish “smoker’s lines” or vertical lines around the lips

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One of the most common complaints we hear from patients is the appearance over time of vertical lip lines, commonly referred to as “smoker’s lines” or “lipstick lines”. These stubborn wrinkles are caused by a variety of factors, including age, genetics, repetitive lifestyle habits, and in some individuals, smoking.

Vertical lip lines, or wrinkles around the lips are oftensmokers lines before and after rest-1 NOT caused by smoking, despite its common reference as smokers lines. In fact, they are mostly caused by repetitive regular lip movements, and in some individuals, this movement can be hard to avoid. These lines are noticeable when lipstick “bleeds” into these fine lines, which earns these wrinkles their other common name “lipstick lines.”

As with all wrinkles, preventing their formation or deeper etching of these lines is the first line of defense.

  • Use sunscreen regularly to protect collagen breakdown
  • Stop smoking, if you do smoke. Even occasional smoking greatly expedites the formation of these lines!
  • Frequent use of straws or drinking from a water bottle nozzle causes the firm pursing of the lips that can lead to these lines! Drink from a glass, or from pour bottles of water instead of the sports topped bottles.

Vertical Lip Lines Treatment

Once these vertical lip lines develop, treatment usually requires a soft approach so the area still looks natural, but without the lines.

Fillers such as RHA and Belotero are extremely thin and flexible, making them the best options to treat these pesky wrinkles. Softer, thinner hyaluronic acid based fillers can provide a smoothing of these vertical lip lines without adding any bulk or volume to the lip itself. Fillers used in lip lines are composed of hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring sugar molecule in the body. Our natural supply of hyaluronic acid diminishes over time with age, and fine lines and loss of collagen occurs as a result. Fillers with small particle sizes and increased flexibility like the RHA 1 fillers are uniquely formulated to re-deliver this naturally hydrating substance to minimize fine vertical smoker’s lines while still allowing fully natural movement in the lip area. Contact us to get a consultation with Dr. Chiu to choose the most customized, natural-feeling filler for your desired outcome.

In FDA studies, 98% of participants treated with fillers in this area reported an improvement in lip wrinkles. Over 75% of subjects still showed improvement 9 months after their initial injection. There is no downtime to the procedure, and the treatment takes approximately 30 minutes.

Other Treatment Modalities

Because “smokers lines” are so pesky, sometimes multiple treatment methods may be needed to result in complete correction.

  • We often use very small, expertly injected amounts of Botox around the mouth to relax the repetitive pursing that causes etching or deepening of these lines. This not only helps the appearance of smoker’s lines by relaxing the muscles that cause vertical lip lines, but it can also improve the longevity of a product like Restylane Silk.
  • Topical creams containing retinoids or polyhydroxy acids can gently resurface and thicken the collagen in the deeper layers of the skin, helping to soften these wrinkles. At The Derm Institute, we love our SkinLab Airbrush Retexurizing Cream, as it contains resurfacing acids and antioxidants to smooth the appearance of fine lines.
  • Physician strength chemical peels can remove the upper layers of the skin, allowing new skin to grow and plump the area, diminishing the appearance of these lines. Deeper peels, including phenol, TCA, and Baker-Gordon-Phenol are handled only by Dr. Chiu can be effective to soften this area around the mouth.
  • Microneedling promotes neocollagenesis, or the production of new collagen stimulated by microinjury induced by tiny needles to soften fine lines and improve skin texture. This is a great, cost effective way to treat this area.
  • Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections can help improve and smooth the skin in this delicate area.
  • Lasers can cause microzones of collagen repair which resurface vertical lip lines.

Subtle, artful, and expert treatment is key, as this area can easily look “done” or overfilled. But in experienced hands, smokers’ lines can be totally banished without any evidence that a procedure was done. Dr. Chiu is an injector trainer and renown expert in the use of injectable fillers. Contact us today for a consultation.

. . . Shared by the TDI team