It smiles, laughs, sings, speaks words of love, accepts a well earned chocolate and puckers for a kiss. Unfortunately, all these activities take a toll over the years. The first place many women start to see wrinkles and lines is around their mouth. The skin here moves as much as any skin on the face, bending and folding as we exploit its many uses. Even for those who are careful with sunscreen, hats and visors, the lower half of the face often receives more sun damage. Put these factors together and eventually you get wrinkles.
Unfortunately, when people look at us, their eyes focus on two things: our eyes and mouth. Add in a brightly colored lipstick to draw even more attention to the area and those little lines start to become a bigger problem. For many, wrinkles and textural changes begin to extend out from the mouth onto the chin and middle parts of the cheeks and with collagen loss, the skin begins to sag, contributing to a less firm jawline, or even jowls.
That's the bad news. Fortunately, there are some things to do about it.
Traditionally, cosmetic practioners have had a limited arsenal around the mouth. Surgery such as a face lift can't change the quality of skin around the mouth, often leaving this area wrinkled and pebbly in glaring contrast to an otherwise taut face after a well done procedure. Botox in small quantities can help reduce aggressive lip pursing, but can't treat etched in lines and wrinkles. If overdone, Botox can also result in problems speaking and smiling - that's not good.
That brings us to the most over-abused tool that has been brought to bear in this area: fillers. Over time, we do lose volume in our lips and subtle amounts of filler can help restore natural contours, balance assymetries and gently smooth some fine lines. Unfortunately, many seem to believe that it is a good idea to inflate the lips, and will often over-fill individual lines over the upper lip. The resulting duck-like (or even platypus-like) lips, most pronounced in profile, are not an attractive correction. Adding insult to injury, this area is so mobile that fillers tend to rapidly degrade, wearing off with every "p" and "b" we pronounce.
So what's the solution? As is often the case, this starts with what is the actual cause of the problem.
As we age, our rate of collagen production slows. Unfortunately, given accumulated years of sun and environmental damage, our rate of collagen breakdown rapidly increases. That's what ultimately leads to laxity and wrinkles. So the obvious solution is to try to slow down collagen loss, or better yet, start to produce more.
Reducing sun damage, hydrating and nourishing our bodies, supplementing with omega-3s and antioxidants are all a start, but to ultimately make a real difference, more effective stimulation of collagen production is necessary. This is where lasers and BBL/IPL excel. The most dramatic improvements can be achieved by ablative laser resurfacing which both removes damaged collagen, and stimulates the body to replace it with healthy new collagen. Newer technologies allow these treatments to be infinitely customized, allowing marked improvement to occur in a single session, or spaced out over a series of lighter fractional or less deep resurfacing treatments. Either way, restoring the skin health around the mouth is the ultimate key to giving you back a mouth that makes you want to smile.