Upper lip lines, sometimes called “smokers’ lines”, refer to wrinkles that occur between your nose and upper lip. Several factors can lead to the development of this facial concern but it is most likely caused by the age-related decline in essential skin proteins such as collagen and elastin. Collagen is essential for maintaining the structures of your skin while elastin provides elasticity. With decreased production of these proteins, wrinkles start to get more prominent in your upper lip and other facial areas.
While these lines are harmless, some people may become concerned about the appearance of their upper lip lines. To address this condition, there are certain cosmetic procedures available that you can choose from. Professional Skin Care products can also help prevent early wrinkles and slow the ageing process.
Dr Jeremy Hunt is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon with cosmetic clinics in Sydney and Wollongong NSW. He has performed hundreds of facial procedures in over 20 years of practice. His nurse injectors and clinic team offer a variety of solutions for upper lip wrinkles and lines.
What are upper lip lines?
- Upper lip lines, or “smokers’ lines,” refer to tiny wrinkles that occur between your nose and upper lip and are commonly caused by ageing. They appear as a set of fine vertical lines that often stretch from one side of your mouth to the other. Sometimes, they can appear darker and deeper making them more pronounced.
What Causes Smokers Lines?
The most common causes of smokers’ lines are the following:
- Age-related decrease in the production of collagen and elastin
- Dental problems or issues
- Prolonged sun exposure
- Repetitive facial movements or gestures
- Volume loss
What are my treatment options for upper lip lines?
- This will greatly depend on a number of factors such as your lip condition, desired results, and preferences of the practitioner. During your facial consultation, your general health and expectations will be assessed to determine the right treatment option specific to your needs. Some patients will prefer a series of less invasive treatments that have minimal downtime, but will achieve the outcome in the longer term while others will prefer a single treatment option that has a longer downtime. The preferred treatment choice needs to be tailored to your needs, expectations, and ability to accommodate downtime.
Popular Solutions for Upper Lip Lines
If you have upper lip wrinkles or smokers lines, you may benefit from the following treatments:
This treatment makes use of a neuromodulator, a substance that relaxes the tiny muscles of your face by inhibiting signal transmission in the area. Without the signals, the muscles cannot contract and will start to relax. As a result, the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles can be reduced. Anti-wrinkle injections can help smooth out smokers’ lines by relaxing the muscle of your upper lip. Anti-wrinkle injections can also prevent new wrinkles from forming and reduce the worsening of existing wrinkles. The treatment can address fine lines and wrinkles in the different parts of your body such as your eyebrow, forehead, nose, mouth, lips, cheeks, and neck. After the treatment, you can resume your work and daily activities but you need to wait 4-10 days for the results to become noticeable. The duration of the results of the treatment can last around 3-4 months so you will need another session to maintain your lips.
2. Dermal Fillers
This treatment makes use of a naturally-occurring substance in your body that is essential for keeping your skin hydrated. When injected into the area where upper lip lines are located, the substance fills in the area and draws water. As a result, the treated area becomes fuller. This can treat a broad range of skin conditions such as fine lines, wrinkles, scars, and depressions in the treated area. This can apply to different body areas such as your brows, cheeks, forehead, hands, jaw, lips, mouth, temples, and under-eye area. The results of dermal fillers can last from six months up to a year depending on the type of filler, skin condition, and skincare regimen. You might choose to undergo touch-treatments once the signs of ageing start to reappear.
A chemical peel is a procedure that involves the removal of the top layer of your skin so that new, healthier skin cells replace the old and damaged cells, new skin. The treatment can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in your upper lip. It can also address other skin concerns such as acne scars, age spots, dark spots, freckles, rough skin, and sun-damaged skin. Depending on the type of chemical peel, you can expect the results to last 2-6 months. There are 3 types of chemical peel: 1. Light chemical peel (removes outer skin layer), 2. Medium chemical peel (removes skin cells from the middle skin layer), and 3. Deep chemical peel (removes skin cells from the deeper skin layer). After the treatment, visible skin peeling is normal and is part of your body’s natural skin healing process.
4. Laser Resurfacing
This treatment is a facial procedure that involves the use of a laser to stimulate healing action in your skin. Laser resurfacing can be done using an ablative laser which removes the thin outer layer of your skin while heating the underlying skin. Laser resurfacing can also be performed using a non-wounding laser known as a nonablative laser. This treats fine lines and wrinkles in your upper lip area by stimulating the growth of collagen and elastin. Laser skin resurfacing can also be performed to treat other skin concerns such as age spots, uneven skin tone or texture, sun-damaged skin, and mild to moderate acne scars. After the treatment, your skin will appear swollen and can become itchy but this can be easily managed by the application of a special ointment.
This is a skin-resurfacing procedure that makes use of a rotating instrument to remove the outer layer of your skin. During the procedure, you usually have local anaesthesia or sedation to minimise discomfort. Once your skin is numb, the practitioner will scrape away the outermost layer of your skin using a rapidly rotating instrument. After the procedure, the treated area will be covered with a moist dressing to protect it. The treated area will likely appear reddish and swollen after the treatment and you will feel some burning, tingling, or aching. After a week, the swelling should resolve but you will need to wait 3 months to see the final results of the procedure.
6. Microneedling CIT – Dermapen or Skin Pen
This is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure that is used to treat fine lines, wrinkles, acne scars, dark spots, large pores, stretch marks, and sun-damaged skin. Also known as CIT collagen induction therapy, microneedling works by stimulating the production of more collagen in the treated area. During the procedure, the practitioner makes small pricks under your skin using a pen-like device. This technique stimulates the body’s natural wound healing process and results in the production of new collagen-rich tissue. A numbing cream is usually applied before the procedure so you will feel less discomfort. Depending on the area being treated, the entire procedure usually takes 30 minutes to complete. After the procedure, you may experience skin irritation and redness within the first few days but this is normal as your skin undergoes the regeneration process. You may resume your daily activities after the procedure but you will need to wear sunscreen as your healing skin will become more sensitive to the sun. The final results of microneedling usually become noticeable after 4-6 weeks. This is the time required for your body to produce new, strong, healthy collagen.
7. PRP Injections – Platelet-Rich Plasma
This procedure makes use of a portion of your own blood known as platelets to promote soft tissue healing. Use of a platelet-rich plasma mimics your body’s natural response to injury by activating the platelets. After being processed in the laboratory, the activated platelets are prepared and injected into the damaged or abnormal tissue. This in turn stimulates the release of substances that are necessary for wound healing known as growth factors. These growth factors stimulate increased blood flow to the target area. In addition, the treatment stimulates the production of collagen and elastin in the injected areas. As a result, your skin undergoes a regenerative process that can target the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and skin laxity. Platelet-rich plasma therapy can be used for all skin types. After 6-9 months, you may choose to have another treatment.
Upper Lip Lines FAQs
Do lip lines go away?
- Upper lip lines do not go away on their own. They result from the age-related decline in collagen and elastin in your body. Even if you stop smoking and change your lifestyle, the appearance of these lines will not be significantly reduced. Fortunately, there are various treatment options for these lines.
How do I get rid of deep lines around my mouth?
Deep lines around your mouth can be addressed by non-surgical treatments such as anti-wrinkle injections, dermal fillers, laser resurfacing, dermabrasion, microneedling, and platelet-rich plasma therapy. For severe cases of skin laxity, you may need facelift (rhytidectomy) surgery.
How do I prevent upper lip lines from occurring?
It is difficult to prevent upper lip lines but you can help delay the appearance of deep lines around your mouth by:
- Avoiding prolonged sun exposure
- Avoiding sleeping on your chest
- Avoiding smoking
- Avoiding squinting
- Avoiding stressful situations
- Eating foods that are rich in antioxidants such as green, leafy vegetables
- Getting enough sleep
- Staying hydrated by drinking lots of water and fluids
- Using moisturisers
Can you reverse wrinkles from smoking?
- Both age-related wrinkles and wrinkles caused by smoking cannot be reversed naturally. If you are a smoker, you are prone to getting wrinkles at an early age compared to non-smokers. This is because cigarettes contain thousands of chemicals that can deprive your skin of oxygen and other essential nutrients via vasoconstriction, a process wherein the opening of blood vessels becomes narrow. As a result, blood flow within the blood vessel is impaired and the transport of oxygen and nutrients are affected. In addition, the chemicals in cigarettes also trigger the destruction of the skin’s essential proteins known as collagen and elastin. This is the reason why smokers can sometimes appear pale and have uneven skin tone. While wrinkles from smoking cannot be reversed, non-surgical treatments such as anti-wrinkle injections, dermal fillers, laser resurfacing, dermabrasion, microneedling, and platelet-rich plasma therapy can help reduce their appearance.
What is the optimal treatment for vertical lip lines?
- The right treatment for vertical lip lines will depend on your lip condition, desired results, and preferences of the practitioner. Depending on the severity of wrinkling, you may need non-surgical cosmetic treatments for mild wrinkling while lip surgery may be required for severe skin wrinkling. During your consultation, your general health and expectations will be carefully assessed to create a customised treatment plan.
How can I reduce upper lip lines?
- The appearance of upper lip lines can be reduced by undergoing non-surgical treatments such as anti-wrinkle injections, dermal fillers, laser resurfacing, dermabrasion, microneedling, and platelet-rich plasma therapy. The most suitable treatment for you will depend on the severity of wrinkling and your desired results. This will be discussed during your consultation.
Can upper lip lines be fixed?
- There are non-surgical methods to address upper lip lines such as anti-wrinkle injections, dermal fillers, laser resurfacing, dermabrasion, microneedling, and platelet-rich plasma therapy. Your practitioner will thoroughly assess your health history and expectations during the consultation period to create a treatment plan that will suit your needs.
Further Reading about Surgical and Non-surgical procedures for facial concerns
- Read Dr Hunt’s Lip Lift (Philtrum Reduction) Surgery page
- Read Dr Hunt’s Dermal Fillers page
- Read Dr Hunt’s page on Facial Surgery
- See Dr Hunt’s Real Patient Lip Lines Before and After Photos
- Read Chemical Peels vs Skin Needling – Which Treatment is Right for Me?
About Dr Jeremy Hunt – Specialist Plastic Surgeon
Dr Jeremy Hunt is a specialist plastic surgeon performing breast, body, face and nose surgery in Australia. He is a member of FRACS & ASPS and has over 20 years of experience providing plastic surgery in Sydney.
Careful, considerate and honest, Dr Jeremy Hunt works with you to find a solution that is suitable for your body and your lifestyle. Every patient is unique and requires a personalised approach to reach their goals.
Dr Hunt has provided his one-on-one service and attention to detail to thousands of women and men from the Sydney & Wollongong NSW area and across Australia.
Dr Hunt’s qualifications and education
Dr Jeremy A. Hunt MBBS FRACS graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine degree from Sydney University in 1990 and is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and member of ASPS – the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. He completed a Fellowship at the University of Texas in the United States, where he learnt from well-established and experienced plastic surgeons.
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Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health professional.