People often say that the eyes or neck are the first areas to show signs of aging. But for some, the area around your mouth is a big giveaway. The movements you make with your lips and mouth over time, combined with a loss of volume and the effects of the sun, gravity and other external factors, can lead to the development of a variety of lines and wrinkles near the mouth. How you deal with those lines or wrinkles depends on their location and how developed they are.
The nasolabial folds are sometimes known as smile lines, even though for most people, they are nothing to smile about. The lines stretch from the outside of each nostril to the corners of the lips. They develop as your skin loses elasticity and volume as you get older.
If your smile lines are beginning to be very visible or if you feel that they are adding years to your appearance, you have a few ways to deal with them. A variety of injectable fillers, such as Radiesse and Juvederm have been approved by the FDA to temporarily treat those lines.
Juvederm is a gel made from hyaluronic acid. When injected into the area near the nasolabial folds, it instantly adds volume to smooth the area and fill in any crease or line. Usually, the results from an injection of Juvederm lasts about nine months.
Radiesse can also temporarily ease the appearance of nasolabial folds, although it is made from a different ingredient than Juvederm. Made of calcium hydroxyapatite, the injectable works in two ways. It first adds volume to the area, immediately reducing the appearance of lines. Over time, it stimulates the production of collagen in the dermis, to provide ongoing support and structure to the area. The results from a treatment with Radiesse can last for about a year.
If your nasolabial folds are fairly deep and you want results that will last for years, a facelift might be a better choice for you. The surgery will shorten the folds and elevate the position of the cheeks, creating a more youthful appearance. Since surgery isn’t for everyone, a consultation with a facial plastic surgeon is important, so that you understand what is involved and whether it will give you the results for which you are hoping.
While the nasolabial folds are the two lines that develop above the lips, the marionette lines are two lines that form beneath them. The vertical lines get their name because they resemble the way a puppet’s mouth opens and closes. Like the nasolabial folds, the marionette lines can be treated with a filler.
Your filler options include those that contain hyaluronic acid, such as Juvederm and Restylane. Radiesse is another option, too. The filler that will give you the results you want really depends on how severe the lines are. Deeper lines typically respond better to a heavier filler.
Vertical Lines Above the Lips
Nasolabial folds and marionette lines develop as a result of volume loss and a loss of skin elasticity. The fine vertical lines that develop above and below people’s lips tend to form as a result of repeated movements. They are sometimes called "smoker’s lines," since the action of puckering up to take a drag from a cigarette can help create them. Even if you don’t smoke, you can develop the lines after years of lip movements.
Since the lines are a type of dynamic wrinkle, one option for treating them is to have Botox or Dysport injected into the area. The injectable will keep you from making the small movement that contributes to the formation of smoker’s lines.
You can also try a filler to smooth the lines. Usually, a thinner filler, such as Belotero, is ideal for use around the upper and lower lips, since the lines are so fine. The results from a treatment with Belotero can last for up to a year.
Preventing or Minimizing Lines
In many ways, working to prevent or to minimize the lines that can form around your mouth is one of the best options. While you can’t fully prevent the signs of aging from happening, you can take steps to reduce their severity. One of the best ways to do that is to protect your lips and mouth area from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 daily and try to avoid sun exposure as much as possible.
Another way to reduce the severity of the lines around your mouth is to stop smoking. Smoker’s lines are just the most obvious way that the habit affects you. Tobacco use also speeds up the aging process, causing you to lose volume and elasticity more quickly.
If you want further advice about what to do about the lines around your mouth, Dr. Jessica Kulak, a face-aging specialist practicing at the Naderi Center, can help. Dr. Kulak can recommend the most appropriate treatments for you and give you tips to protect the lip and mouth area. To schedule a consultation with her, call (703) 481-0002 for an appointment at the Virginia practice or call (301) 222-2020 for an appointment at the practice in Maryland.