Anti-Aging Guide: Lips

A smile can make you appear more positive, confident, and maybe even sexier. But is your smile — or your mouth in general — conveying more about your age than your personality? In other words, are your lips “telling” your birth date?

According to Michael I. Kulick, MD, while a facelift can’t address atrophy of the lips or wrinkles around the mouth, there are other technologies that can reverse the signs of aging. From lip augmentation and injections to peels and lifts, the latest cosmetic procedures and techniques can take years off your smile as they improve the area around your mouth.

Reversing the Signs of Age

Chemical Peel

chemical peel using alpha hydroxy acids, tricholoracetic acid (TCA), or phenol uses a peeling agent to help improve the fine lines and wrinkles around the mouth. The solution is applied to the areas to be treated, avoiding the eyes, brows, and lips, with stronger formulations such as the TCA have a greater depth of peel. Removing the skin’s top layer diminishes the look of imperfections caused by sun damage or uneven pigmentation, or coarse wrinkles, while revealing newer, fresher skin.

Lip Augmentation/Injection

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), there are two strategies to augment the lips: surgery and injection. For a permanent lip augmentation, surgically advancing the lip forward via incisions inside the mouth (with an added dermal-fat graft if needed) will create a more plump, full lift.

A more temporary, but less aggressive, method uses dermal fillers such as collagenhyaluronic acid (HA), or fillers based on microsphere technology. To enhance the lip fullness or raise/define a cupid’s bow or vermillion border, plastic surgeons perform multiple injections of soft tissue augmentation.

Nasolabial folds (the “parentheses” that run from the corners of the mouth to the corners of the nose) and marionette lines (extending from the corners of the mouth to the chin) can be improved by injecting them with deeper tissue fillers. Also, to smooth facial lines, surgeons may perform autologous fat grafting, using fat removed from another part of your body and inject it into the area under repair.

Even though a filler substance may be considered permanent, the results of soft tissue augmentation with injectable fillers are not and will probably require repeat treatment to maintain results, noted the ASAPS. Also, very soft fillers, such as those used for the lips, won’t last as long as more structured fillers used for the lines around the mouth.

Lip Lift

If you want to turn that frown upside down, consider a lip lift. By surgically removing small diamonds of skin just above the corners of the mouth, the border of the lips is raised into a slight smile, turning an unhappy facial expression into a happy one.

Laser Skin Resurfacing

Laser skin resurfacing using a laser beam can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while improving the texture, clarity, and overall appearance of your skin. Both static wrinkles (the ones that are always present) and dynamic wrinkles (expression lines that deepen with facial movements) can be treated.

While you are choosing methods to turn back the hands in time, keep in mind that changes to your lips should be evaluated in comparison to your entire facial structure. Maintaining proper proportions requires the highly skilled hand of a board certified plastic surgeon who specializes in facial plastic surgery. Bigger isn’t necessarily better. Instead, strive for lip improvements that will exist in harmony with the rest of your face. Then smile and say “Cheese!”

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