Happiness is ever-elusive, so when you do experience a moment of sunshine and humor that results in belly laughs and sometimes tears, then don't ever let wrinkles around the mouth prevent you from doing it. Yes, we know that smiles and laughter stretch the skin around your upper lip, which causes wrinkles over time, but that doesn't mean you should stop yourself from relishing the moment and living your life with joy.
But there are a few dermatologist-approved ways you can help ease those lines and prevent them from deepening too, if that's the desired result you want, of course. Age is just a number, after all, but like any organ in your body, we recommend taking care of your body's largest: the skin.
With that in mind, we reached out to several dermatologists to get their input on how to reverse and prevent wrinkles around the mouth.
When I reached out to Jennifer Herrmann, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist practicing in Beverly Hills, she offered several tips. First, she explains, is preventative care. “Because the lips and surrounding skin are delicate, adopting a skincare regimen with an anti-aging topical product early is key. I prefer serums with growth factors that help target collagen and elastin synthesis to smooth and prevent fine lines. DNAEGF is very light and immediately absorbs into the skin, so it can be used under other moisturizers or sunscreen.”
She also mentioned the benefits of fillers, saying, “As we age the proportions of our lip skin change and lips themselves thin. Judicious amounts of soft tissue filler can be injected into the upper lip skin to help give the area more structure.”
To ensure lines are even and smooth, a different procedure could work for you. “For early vertical lines, treatments that use microneedling with radiofrequency heat can help stimulate collagen synthesis and smooth fine lines,” Herrmann says. “Microneedling alone is mildly helpful, but by adding heat delivered at the needle tips, more remodeling occurs, better tightening the skin. These treatments have little downtime and results are most pronounced after a series of treatments.”
Nancy Samolitis, MD, FAAD, co-founder and medical director of Facile dermatology and boutique, had some other tips for us. “Use of daily sunscreen is key,” she tells MyDomaine. “These wrinkles are primarily caused by changes in the skin such as breakdown of collagen and elastic tissue that we know are secondary to chronic sun exposure. Sunscreen should be at least SPF 30 and ideally contain one mineral component like zinc or titanium. Adding a lip a sunscreen will enhance your protection. I like Colorescience tinted mineral lip gloss for this.”
More recognizable injectables are also effective ways to fight wrinkles. “Botox, Dysport, or Xeomin are neuromodulator treatments, which can be used in very small amounts to reduce the muscle pulling on skin during puckering.”
Our friends at Byrdie have found that microinfusions can be a good solution as well; we asked Samolitis about the details. She explained, “This is a great option for a temporary effect with no downtime. Microinfusions use tiny needles to drive microdroplets of neuromodulators and fillers. This can give an immediate smoothing effect, usually on someone who has very early, minimal wrinkles.”
You know your skin better than anyone else, and the above treatments may not seem appropriate for your situation. The gold standard of treatments for these kinds of wrinkles, according to Samolitis, is the chemical peel. “A type of chemical peel called phenol can tighten even the deepest of lines,” but she is quick to point out the peel’s drawbacks.
There’s also dermabrasion, which is “literally mechanical ‘sanding’ of the skin with a specialized tool. Like phenol peels, this procedure is less popular than it used to be due to long recovery time and the possibility of depigmentation. It should only be done in the most experienced hands and is often done at the same time as surgical procedures (like a face-lift), in order to take advantage of having deeper anesthesia and plan for long recovery and more dramatic results.
Another more aggressive treatment comes from resurfacing lasers. “Lasers treatments can be modified greatly to treat deep for severe sun damage if needed. This procedure will produce results more quickly but will involve longer recovery time. Skin may be red, crusted, and raw for up to two weeks. It should be performed in conjunction with full face treatments to avoid a demarcation line.”
Avya Skincare’s Tanuj Nakra, MD, FACS, was also able to provide us with advice for reducing those pesky wrinkles around the mouth. “Quality night creams can produce deep dermal hydration that thickens the skin and effectively reduces skin wrinkles. For example, the AVYA Night Cream is designed to maximize overnight hydration. Also, topical vitamin C serums can be effective for mouth wrinkles, as vitamin C has numerous benefits including boosting skin collagen production.”
He also mentions that certain fat transfer techniques have their own advantages. “Microliposuction from the abdomen is the source of the fat cells that are centrifuged and then carefully and artistically injected into the face. Recent advances in nanofat technology are ideal for the mouth region in that the fat cells groups are broken to the cellular level, allowing for ultra-fine injections right under the deep mouth wrinkle crevices.”