Last updated February 2022

What are upper lip wrinkles?

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 because they have a thinner dermal layer and less facial hair. The prevalence of vertical upper lip lines also often increases with age. It is also significantly more common in those with fairer skin types.

When do lip lines typically start to appear on the face?

Vertical upper lip lines will usually start to appear in your forties and then continue to deepen into your fifties and sixties. However, they may start to show up earlier in individuals who spend a lot of time in the sun or are regular smokers.

What causes upper lip lines?

Etiologically, vertical 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 natural ageing process of the skin in general.

What treatments help with upper lip wrinkles treatment

There are three main treatment methods that can be used to improve the appearance of vertical lines: laser resurfacing, dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections. The treatment that is best suited to you will depend on the severity of your wrinkles as well as the main cause of them.

Treatment with laser

One of the most effective treatments for upper lip wrinkles is laser resurfacing. These laser treatments are 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.


Treatment with dermal fillers

One of the causes of wrinkling of the upper lip is volume loss. Revolumising the upper lip with dermal fillers makes 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 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.


Treatment with anti-wrinkle injections

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.

How do I prepare for upper lip wrinkle treatment?

Each treatment will require slightly different preparation. You will have an initial consultation with a practitioner to determine which procedure is suitable for you and whether or not you are a good candidate.

For laser resurfacing, you should avoid any direct sun exposure and take care to apply sunscreen regularly for a few weeks prior to the treatment. You may also want to avoid applying topical retinoids or topical lightening agents.

For dermal fillers, you should discontinue the use of any blood thinning medication such as aspirin or ibuprofen for a week before the procedure. You should also avoid drinking alcohol for 24 hours beforehand.

For anti-wrinkles injections, there is minimal preparation required but you may experience bruising for a few days so you should consider keeping your calendar free.

What can I expect during upper lip wrinkle treatment?

Each of the treatment methods will follow slightly different procedures, but they should all take no longer than an hour.

Laser Skin Resurfacing

During this procedure, either topical or local anaesthetic is applied to numb the area and then beams of light energy are directed at your skin through the use of a laser. This laser destroys the outer layer of skin and heats the skin underneath to stimulate collagen production.

Dermal Fillers

The face is cleaned using an antiseptic solution and then local anaesthetic is administered. Filler is injected directly into the wrinkle using a fine needle. 

Anti-Wrinkle Injections

Topical anaesthetic is applied to the skin before the injections are strategically positioned and injected into the desired areas.

What results can be achieved with the treatment?

The results that you can expect to see will depend on the severity of your wrinkles as well as the type of treatment that you receive. Severe wrinkles may benefit more from laser resurfacing, while milder wrinkles could see drastic results through the combined use of dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle treatment.

Are there any risks or side effects associated with vertical upper lip line treatment?

When performed by an experienced practitioner, these procedures should have minimal side effects that disappear within a few days.

Laser Skin Resurfacing

Potential side effects of a laser skin resurfacing procedure include:

  • Changes in skin pigmentation
  • Redness and scarring
  • A waxy looking appearance to the skin

Dermal Fillers

Potential side effects after getting dermal fillers include:

  • Pain, redness, bruising and/or swelling
  • Injury to surrounding blood vessels
  • Leakage or migration of the filler

Anti-Wrinkle Injections

Potential side effects after having anti-wrinkle treatments include:

  • Pain, redness, bruising and/or swelling
  • Numbness

Skincare to use after upper lip wrinkle treatment

After your upper lip wrinkle treatment, you should focus on using products that nourish and hydrate your skin such as moisturisers and rejuvenating serums.

The Dermaceutic Regen Ceutic is a moisturiser that is perfect for calming sensitive skin. It contains natural anti-inflammatory ingredients that can help to soothe irritated skin, as well as tightening ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid. Hydrating serums like the PCA Hydrating Serum can help to take care of your skin after treatment and give it a youthful glow. To learn more about hydrating serums click here.

You should also make sure that you protect your skin with products containing sunscreen to avoid getting any new wrinkles. The Dermaceutic K Ceutic SPF 50 is the perfect post-treatment cream to provide your skin with the care it needs.

Products containing retinol can help increase collagen production. The Dermaceutic Activ Retinol 0.5 is a serum containing retinol that helps to firm and smooth the skin. To find out more about retinol serums click here.

How long does upper lip wrinkle treatment last?

The longevity of the results of each treatment will vary from person to person, depending on their genetics as well as lifestyle factors such as sun exposure, exercise levels and smoking habits.

Laser skin resurfacing is by far the most long-lasting treatment, the results of which will last for 3-5 years. Anti-wrinkle injections may need to be redone every 3-4 months in order to maintain the results, and dermal fillers will need to be redone every 6-12 months.


What’s the best treatment for smokers lines?

The best treatment for you will depend on a number of factors, including how deep the lip lines are and the kind of results that you’re looking for. A consultation with a practitioner can help you determine what the most suitable option is.

How much does upper lip wrinkle treatment cost?

The price will depend on the type of treatment that you’re getting. Visit our pricing page for more information.

Are smoker’s lip lines worse than people who never smoked?

Yes, especially if the person has been a regular smoker for a large portion of their life. Smoking can worsen the severity of upper lip wrinkles (sometimes called smoker’s lines) because of the frequent pursing of the lips as well as the harmful effects of smoking on the skin.

Can you reduce vertical lip lines and wrinkles above the lips?

Yes, you can reduce the appearance of these lines through one of these treatments: laser skin resurfacing, anti-wrinkle injections or dermal fillers. The treatment that will be most effective for you will depend on your lifestyle habits as well as the severity of your wrinkles. Laser skin resurfacing requires the most recovery time but will also have the most long lasting results.

How can I avoid getting upper lip wrinkles?

One of the best ways to prevent getting facial wrinkles is to avoid excessive sun exposure and wear sunscreen every day. Exposure to UV radiation can cause wrinkling in the skin, so you should wear SPF 50+ sunscreen as well as lip balm that contains SPF.

Avoiding pursing your lips as much as possible can also help to prevent the formation of upper lip wrinkles. Quitting smoking and avoiding drinking from straws are two ways to minimise this action.

Is filler treatment more effective than laser treatment?

Filler treatments may suit some patients more than laser treatments because the procedure is faster and more convenient. There is no downtime associated with getting dermal fillers or anti-wrinkle injections.

Both treatments are effective for removing fine lines and wrinkles.

Why choose the Victorian Cosmetic Institute for upper lip wrinkle treatment?

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 to book their appointment online. We can then contact you with an understanding of the results you hope to achieve and ensure the treatment is appropriate.

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