Upper lip wrinkles

Upper lip wrinkles are a common concern. They affect mostly women over the age of 40, both smokers, and non-smokers. The best results for treatment are achieved with a combination of anti-wrinkle injections, dermal fillers, and laser.

Article medically reviewed by Dr. Gavin Chan (MBBS, cosmetic physician, liposuctionist)

Dr. Gavin Chan

Templestowe Lower and Berwick Clinics

Dr. Gavin Chan has a background in intensive care, anaesthesia, and emergency medicine. Since 2004, Dr. Chan has provided cosmetic procedures, including anti-wrinkle injections, dermal fillers, liposuction, fat transfer, skin needling, and laser treatments. He is a doctor trainer for various dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections.
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Upper lip wrinkles are a common concern, and are often one of the initial reasons that drive people to seek out cosmetic treatments for the first time. Women tend to be affected more than men, and their prevalence tends to increase with age. It is also significantly more common in those with fairer skin types.

Etiologically, upper lip lines come from several underlying factors that affect the area;

  • Sun exposure – the upper lip is often one of the areas that is significantly affected by the sun, or more specifically, UV radiation. Chronic sun exposure causes oxidative damage to the skin, leading to wrinkling as well as other skin concerns such as skin cancers and pigmentation problems.
  • Loss of volume – possibly one of the less obvious causes of upper lip wrinkling. Loss of subcutaneous fat in particular can cause the upper lips to shrivel, and as a result cause wrinkles.
  • Muscle contraction – the muscle surrounding the mouth, orbicularis oris, is responsible for closing the mouth and is activated during speech. Pursing the lips can crease vertical lines into the upper lip.
  • Smoking – although upper lip lines occur in both smokers and non-smokers, smokers purse their lips more frequently and this increases wrinkling around the mouth. Toxins from cigarettes can also accelerate the ageing process of the skin in general.


Treatment with laser

One of the most effective treatments for upper lip lines is laser resurfacing. This is usually done with an erbium or carbon dioxide laser.  The lasers are highly attracted to the water in the skin, and when the laser interacts with the skin they vapourise or ablate a fine layer, along with the wrinkles in those layers. A new layer of skin is formed with reduced wrinkling.  We find the erbium laser more suited to those who are just resurfacing the upper lip alone. The carbon dioxide laser tends to heat the skin more than the erbium, which is good for skin tightening, however, this is more beneficial in areas such as around the eyes. Also the carbon dioxide laser can cause a degree of hypopigmentation, or a paler appearance to the skin. When resurfacing just the upper lip with the carbon dioxide laser this difference in skin pigmentation may be noticeable.

The downtime required in most cases is 7 to 14 days, and during this time, the skin appears red and raw. Vaseline is applied to the treated area for at least a week, and this aids in healing and preventing drying and cracking of the skin.

One of the causes of wrinkling of the upper lip is volume loss. Revolumising the upper lip with dermal fillers is akin to putting more air in a beach ball, making the surface smoother and firmer.

Dermal fillers can be injected in one of two ways;

  • Intradermally – this is a very superficial injection into the actual lines or wrinkles themselves. A very fine needle is used to inject product into the skin.
  • Subcutaneously – the dermal filler is injected beneath the skin in the layer of fat immediately below. This method is used to re-inflate the area generally, and gives a more structure and integrity to the skin. The vermillion (red part of the lips) is an optional part that can be filled with this area, and in many cases can enhance the overall effect of the treatment.

For estimate volumes and costs visit the Cosmetic consultation and treatments pricing page.

The muscle that surrounds the lips, the orbicularis oris, purses the lips, and accentuates the appearance of vertical lip lines. It is possible, using anti-wrinkle injections, to reduce the amount of pursing that causes wrinkling. Anti-wrinkle injections work by relaxing the orbicularis oris muscle and preventing them from creasing the upper lip excessively. Their action lasts a few months only before re-treatment is required. Although mostly performed for the upper lip, this treatment can be done on the lower lip also.

There is a degree of lip incompetency that is caused by this treatment, and the dosage of anti-wrinkle injection used needs to be carefully chosen to balance the effects of the treatment with the side effects. In most cases, patients feel a slight ‘numbness’ to the upper lip and may have difficulties sucking on a straw, holding a cigarette with their lips, or blowing up a balloon. Speech is not usually affected. On average, most side effects last for about one month.

For estimate units and costs visit the Cosmetic consultation and treatments pricing page.

We have a wide range of options at Victorian Cosmetic Institute for the treatment of upper lip lines. We allow you ample time to communicate your aesthetic goals to us, and use our expertise to help you achieve your desired outcome. The experience you have with us is also important.

The first step is simply contacting us for your initial consultation, where we will discuss with you what is a realistic and achievable outcome, and what to expect from your treatment.

Making that first phone call about any cosmetic procedure can be a confronting task – many of our patients have preferred filling out our online enquiry form. We can then contact you with an understanding of the results you are hopeful of achieving and ensure the treatment is appropriate.

It’s as easy as clicking the ‘book an appointment’ button or you can phone us directly on 1300 863 824.

Dr. Gavin Chan
Dr. Gavin Chan

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