The Stigmata of Smoking: Lip Lines

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Although statistics show most Americans have quit smoking, many women find that the habit of past puffing has resulted in unsightly and unmistakable wrinkling around the lips. The wrinkles are the result of repetitive motion, usually from puffing on a cigarette, although any type of repetitive pucker can result in the same problem. With smoking, collagen breakdown and loss of elasticity occurs from mechanical stress and from exposure to the many toxic chemicals in smoke.

If you smoke, it’s time to quit. If you have lip lines, there are a few steps you can take at home to improve your appearance, like moisturizing to plump up the skin and minimize the appearance fine lines. You should also consider using a prescription retinol preparation to stimulate collage production and promote elasticity.

There are a number of available approaches to treatment of lip lines, including Botox injections to relax the perioral muscles, preventing repetitive contractions that deepen lines and wrinkles. If your smoker’s lines are deep and persistent, combination treatment with Botox and dermal filler, such as Belotero or Restylane Silk, has produced excellent results for many patients.

Botox is an injectable neuromodulator that paralyzes skeletal muscles and although it is derived from a neurotoxin, it is considered a safe and very effective method of improving wrinkles and lines that develop or are exacerbated by repetitive muscle contraction. The effects of Botox injections usually last several months.

In addition to treating the small vertical lines around the mouth, Botox can also be used with filler to improve the appearance of the nasolabial folds that extend from the corners of the nose to the corners of the mouth. Some patients also undergo treatment with Botox to weaken the muscles that pull the corner of the mouth downward, which allows the muscles that elevate the corners of the mouth to bring them back to a horizontal position.

Fillers have been used in all of these areas for quite some time, but the use of a combination of Botox injections and fillers appears to enhance and sustain the results. There are a variety of different fillers with different molecular composition and depending upon the filler you choose, the effects will be maintained for months to years. Your cosmetic dermatologist can help you determine the best dermal filler to meet your goal.

Another option for resurfacing the skin around the mouth is ablative laser resurfacing, which targets photodamage by ablating the epidermal layer and some of the underlying dermis, resulting in collagen remodeling and reduction of wrinkles and uneven skin tone. Although lasers have been used in cosmetic procedures since the 1980’s, recovery time with older lasers was relatively long, with redness that could persist for several months. Fractional lasers allow a shorter recovery period, with many patients returning to their activities in three to eight days, depending upon the type of fractional laser utilized. Fractional lasers also appear to have a skin-tightening effect, in addition to promotion of collagen remodeling and reduction of wrinkles and uneven skin tone. Prolonged redness (greater than a month) occurs in only 12% of patients and the risk of other complications, like infection, is minimized. Most patients require one to three treatments to achieve the best results.

If you’re troubled by signs of aging as a result of unsightly lip lines, call us today for a consultation at one of our convenient locations, in Beverly Hills, Glendale, and Encino. There are a variety of options and our experienced cosmetic dermatologist can help you determine the best treatment or combination of treatments to optimize your results.

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