Home Health Here’s Why Upper Lip Wrinkles Happen And How To Treat Them

Here’s Why Upper Lip Wrinkles Happen And How To Treat Them

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Here’s Why Upper Lip Wrinkles Happen And How To Treat Them

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Repeat after us: wrinkles are normal. No matter how hard you commit to your skincare regimen, you’ll eventually spot under-eye wrinkles, a few wisdom folds on your neck, and the star of this article: upper lip wrinkles, also called lip lines, but dermatologists and medical experts refer to them as perioral wrinkles. Though they’re an inescapable part of aging, there are other causes of lip wrinkles that, once you pinpoint and remove them from your routine, can help delay their early arrival or keep them from deepening further. 

Ahead, we also chatted with board-certified dermatologists Terrence Keaney, Naana Boakye, and Tiina Meder to delve into the causes of upper lip wrinkles, explore available treatment options, and weigh in on strategies for prevention.

What causes upper lip wrinkles?

Good ol’ aging is one of the most notable causes of upper lip wrinkles. Over time, your skin gradually produces less collagen and elastin, two proteins that give your skin structure and elasticity, Dr. Meder explains. As a result, your skin becomes thinner and loses its firmness, paving the way for various lines and wrinkles to crop up on your face, including—but certainly not limited to—upper lip wrinkles.

While the cause of upper lip wrinkles is the same for all wrinkles, Dr. Keaney says the lip area is unique because it’s arguably the most active skin surface. Think about it: Whether you’re talking, sipping, eating, or laughing, the skin around your mouth is almost always on the move. (This is also why skincare enthusiasts on Reddit and experts like Dr. Meder caution against using straws often if you’re determined to minimize upper lip wrinkles.) The combination of lip movement and aging is the perfect cocktail for forming lip lines.

According to Dr. Keaney, chronic sun exposure is another cause of upper lip wrinkles that is often overlooked. It speeds up your skin’s collagen and elastin degradation, so it is crucial to take a few seconds to apply your favorite face sunscreen or a lip balm with SPF. The sun’s impact on our skin can be as profound as the effects of smoking. All three dermatologists consulted for this piece noted that, aside from aging, preventable sun exposure and smoking rank among the top causes of upper lip wrinkles. 

What age do you get upper lip wrinkles?

The age at which lip lines typically develop can vary. While they’re bound to appear over time, your lifestyle choices might influence whether they emerge earlier than expected. According to Dr. Keaney, women often notice lip lines earlier than men do, especially those with fair skin, a history of smoking, or excessive sun exposure. “In my practice, the timing of upper lip lines ranges from ages 35 to 55,” he says. 

However, the timing of when lip lines typically develop varies. Dr. Boakye said that upper lip wrinkles may appear as early as the late 20s. On the other hand, Dr. Meder says they typically appear post-menopause, around the mid-60s or early 70s. Despite their different takes, all experts agree that sun exposure, smoking, and repetitive facial movements can speed up the onset of upper lip wrinkles.

What are the best treatments for upper lip wrinkles?

Let’s be clear: there’s no “cure” for wrinkles (beware of anyone claiming otherwise; they’re lying). However, there are treatments to soften their appearance, prevent them from worsening, or delay their arrival. For best results in treating upper lip wrinkles, Dr. Keaney suggests combination therapy, which sounds fancy but just means taking more than one approach to treating them. Below, we’ve outlined some of the best treatments for upper lip wrinkles, as recommended by the experts:

Topical treatments

The easiest and most affordable treatment for lip wrinkles? Good ol’ skincare products. While “topical retinoids help to reduce the depth of wrinkles and improve their appearance,” Dr. Meder warns that they may cause irritation or dryness and potentially increase your risk of hyperpigmentation. 

Instead, Dr. Meder recommends using a serum or moisturizer containing skin-strengthening peptides and hydrating hyaluronic acid, complemented by occasional LED light therapy and a microcurrent facial device. “This safe strategy can lead to a visible and natural improvement of the skin’s appearance, even if it does not eliminate wrinkles,” she explains. To determine whether retinoids or a gentler routine (like Meder’s) is best for you, ring your dermatologist, who understands your skin, for a personalized regimen.

Botox

We’re willing to bet you’ve heard of Botox. Also known as botulinum toxin, it’s “an injectable neurotoxic protein used in cosmetic procedures to relax muscles by blocking nerve signals,” Dr. Boakye explains. “This temporary muscle relaxation results in a smoothing effect on the skin, minimizing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.” 

To treat upper lip wrinkles, an expert will inject the toxin in the muscles around the mouth to “diminish ‘lipstick lines’ or ‘smoker’s lines’ that appear from puckering the lips,” says Dr. Boakye. While results vary from person to person, she notes that the effects on the upper lip typically last around three to six months.

Dermal Fillers

While Botox works by relaxing muscles, dermal fillers add volume. Dr. Keaney suggests considering Juvéderm Volbella XC, an FDA-approved injectable gel for filling existing upper lip wrinkles that may last up to a year. Of course, if there are other filler brands or types you are curious about, your best bet is to discuss them with your dermatologist, who can guide you in the right direction. 

Laser Skin Resurfacing

Dr. Keaney suggests laser skin resurfacing as a preventative treatment against upper lip wrinkles. “The yearly use of laser skin resurfacing before lip wrinkles develop is effective at slowing the development of those stubborn lip lines,” he says. Depending on the severity of your upper lip wrinkles, your dermatologist may suggest fractional non-ablative laser treatment for mild to moderate wrinkles or fully ablative laser therapy for more severe cases.

Chemical Peels

“Chemical peels are cosmetic treatments that involve applying a chemical solution to the skin to encourage skin rejuvenation through exfoliation and peeling,” says Dr. Boakye. “When used on the upper lip, chemical peels can stimulate collagen production and assist in reducing wrinkles and fine lines, resulting in a smoother texture.”

Microneedling

“Microneedling is a cosmetic procedure that uses a device equipped with fine needles to create tiny punctures in the skin,” says Dr. Boakye. “This process stimulates the body’s natural healing response and promotes collagen and elastin production, which help with skin elasticity. For upper lip wrinkles, microneedling can improve the skin’s texture around the lips. Microneedling can also allow products to be absorbed faster into the skin. Microneedling is typically performed directly on the skin around the lips. Results may vary depending on the age and depth of the lip wrinkles.”

Dermabrasion

“Dermabrasion removes the epidermis to improve the skin’s texture and appearance by addressing issues such as wrinkles, scars, and uneven pigmentation,” says Dr. Boakye.

How to prevent upper lip wrinkes?

Good news: preventing lip wrinkles is easy if you follow simple steps. Not to sound like a broken record, but the biggest ones are prioritizing sun protection with an SPF of at least 30, avoiding smoking altogether, and keeping up your skincare regimen. Dr. Meder also recommends a “balanced diet, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep,” but we’re confident you’re already nailing that, or at the very least, it’s a work in progress. 

Final Takeaway

Discovering upper lip wrinkles (or any wrinkles for that matter) is a natural, inevitable part of life (we don’t make the rules). However, it’s also totally okay if you want to soften the appearance of your lip lines or try to delay them from forming. A solid, simple skincare routine starring SPF is the best trick to have in your toolkit. However, if you aren’t satisfied with the results of a skincare-only approach, talk to a board-certified dermatologist who can talk you through more advanced options like lasers or fillers.

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