Perioral (around the mouth) fine lines can be genetic, due to poor skin quality, repetitive habits, smoking and/or a combination of all of the above. Because lipstick bleeds into these fine lines, they are sometimes called lipstick lines. More commonly, these vertical lines around the mouth are called smoker’s lines. “But I never smoked!” comes the cry of the majority of women with a purse-string pucker. Sad, but true. You need not have smoked to wear the lines of a one. In actuality, aging is to blame to a large degree. We’ll get to why in a moment, but rest easy, there’s a sure-fire way to blow out those smoker’s lines with one powerful cosmetic surgery procedure, dermabrasion.
Over time, with repeated pursing of the lips, whether inhaling a cigarette, sucking on a straw or other facial actions, the loss of collagen through aging breaks down the skin’s ability to combat the formation of lines around the mouth. Furthermore, as we age, we experience bone loss and facial fat loss in addition to poor skin quality. All of these lovely things contribute to a receding chin and retraction and thinning of the lips. Without the support of the underlying bone, the lips lose fullness, amplifying the vertical lines around the lips.
Dermabrasion can erase the lines around the mouth as no other procedure can. Dermabrasion is not to be confused with microdermabrasion. Microdermabrasion is performed in many spa and salon settings and uses fine aluminum oxide crystals to very gently abrade the surface of the skin while suctioning dead skin cells. This is a wonderful light treatment to shed the upper layer of skin and provide smoother texture and a healthy glow, but it will not make a dent on smoker’s lines.
In order to really obliterate the lines around the mouth, dermabrasion blows any other procedure away. With dermabrasion, the surgeon scrapes away the outermost layer of skin with a rough wire brush, or a burr containing diamond particles attached to a motorized handle. The scraping continues until the surgeon reaches the safest level that will make the scar or wrinkle less visible. Lip lines are sanded away.
This photo was taken immediately after dermabrasion. You will be very red and swollen and it may be difficult to eat or speak. Some pain, itching, and tingling in the area are to be expected so pain medication will be prescribed for you. This intense redness and swelling may last up to a week. Just like any scrape or burn you remember as a child, the area will develop a scab or crust during healing. It will naturally flake and peel off leaving fresh, new pink skin beneath. Some surgeons will use an ointment or an antibacterial petroleum gauze called Xeroform to protect the area and prevent scab formation. Itching is to be expected as new skin forms.
After 2 weeks you can return to work and normal activities, however, your skin will remain bright pink for several weeks following the procedure. For the lip area to return to a normal color it can take up to 3 months. Your surgeon will let you know when it is okay to cover the area with non-allergenic makeup.
There is no way to prevent lip lines, but making them disappear or look a heck of a lot better is possible with dermabrasion. If you’ve had it with bleeding lipstick or just plain tired of looking like a lifelong smoker when you haven’t been, consider dermabrasion. You’ll be blown away by the results.
Dr. Gilbert Lee is a board-certified plastic surgeon in San Diego, California and performs dermabrasion under local anesthetic. The procedure takes about an hour to perform. For more information please contact us below.