"Why do I have all these smoker's lines? I've never smoked a day in my life."
We hear this statement from ladies every single week. Some patients have no interest in fuller lips, but they absolutely hate all the etched-in lip lines. They feel that these wrinkles deceptively make them appear like a long-term smoker.
First, we must look at the root cause of these lines. It is simply from the constant puckering action of the circular muscle that envelopes the lip. Any form of constant puckering can cause these lines, and the biggest culprit in our practice is the innocent-appearing straw. This handy little piece of plastic is exactly the same size as its carcinogenic cousin, the cigarette. The frequent use of straws over many years causes the same action and the same result: etched-in wrinkles. We cannot completely relax these muscle movements, as this would affect talking, eating, etc. and cause embarrassing drooling to say the least. But, we have other options....
What are my options to treat lip lines?
- If the lines are mild, early and primarily visible only with movement, we can perform a more preventative treatment with Botox/Dysport. We must start with small amounts to avoid unwanted changes with your lip movement and articulation. Some patients love this method, while others have difficulty adjusting to the mild muscle relaxation. Luckily, a trial of Botox/Dysport will last about 2-3 months and give you enough time to "try it on for size." If it's not your favorite option, we can adjust or eliminate this treatment for you.
- Filler injections with Belotero work better for patients with etched-in lines. Dr. Brown must inject every individual small line to fill in each crevice. She prefers Belotero for this area because it is a softer, finer product and will not give a puffy lip look. Although many patients don't want their actual lips treated, Dr. Brown prefers to place a small amount of filler on the rim of the lip, which restores the natural balance and proportion of the lip and obliterates some of the lower lines. A subtle amount of volume placed in the aging lip can work wonders. Dr. Brown's goal is to always avoid the overdone, over-plumped look.
- Resurfacing options can help some with the lip lines. Fraxel laser resurfacing, microneedle therapy, Infini radiofrequency treatment, and strong chemical peels can help to stimulate collagen and gradually smooth the etched-in look. All these treatments require multiple sessions for gradual improvement.
- We find that the best results occur when several of the above options are combined. Lip lines that have been present for decades can be stubborn and require more effort and patience. As with all other treatments, the earlier you correct the problem, the better results you get.
How long will my results last?
Botox/Dysport is often repeated every 3 months to keep the strong muscles relaxed. For those opting for filler, Belotero typically lasts about 6 months or more in an area with frequent movement. Combining Botox/Dysport with Belotero together can extent the duration of the filler. Resurfacing treatments should be repeated periodically, as the aging clock never stops. Our faces and skin need periodic maintenance and upkeep just like a house or car.
Is there any pain?
Botox/Dysport injections in this area are virtually painless, since we can use a cold numbing spray beforehand. For filler injections, we prefer to inject dental blocks to numb the entire area. This is a much more pleasant experience, but it will restrict you from eating or drinking much for several hours. We can alternatively apply strong numbing cream to the lip area for 1 hour beforehand, but please note that lip lines are more sensitive to needle-sticks. The majority of our patients much prefer the numbing blocks. We also have laughing gas (nitrous oxide) available to help patients who are extremely anxious or concerned about pain.
What are the side effects?
The lips are more prone to have some swelling afterwards, so this procedure is best planned before a weekend for recovery. We certainly don't recommend that you run errands immediately afterwards. Bruising can also occur from the injections. We can give you a short prednisone pill prescription to help calm down the swelling sooner. Of note, if you have a history of cold sores in the lip area, you MUST begin an antiviral pill (such as valacyclovir or acyclovir) on the day of treatment to prevent a large flare of the virus.
Will I look overdone?
Dr. Brown specializes in natural, subtle lip enhancement (unless the patient specifically requests otherwise). She is particularly cautious when working with the lips, as small adjustments can make big changes in this area. We would much rather under-correct and keep you looking natural rather than remove every wrinkle and make you look obviously overdone. If you really want to look like Goldie Hawn or Melanie Griffith, we suggest that you go elsewhere.
How should I prepare for my filler appointment?