Lips—pretty amazing, right? They eat, they talk, they whistle, they kiss, they pout, they smile. Lips are 100 times more sensitive than fingertips. Scientists say that lips even allow for biological information to be exchanged between the kisser to the kiss-ee. And did you know that no two lip prints on a glass are ever the same? Well, you do now. If you’re comparing facial features, your lips are working overtime every. single. day. And eventually… they'll start to look like it.
We know, we know. It was all fun facts and then we had to go and spoil it with that last bit of #truth. Thankfully, like those individual lip prints, lip enhancements are also unique to each patient—their age, their genetic makeup, and the aging process itself. It’s no secret that injectable and noninvasive treatments can make a significant and positive improvement to a patient’s appearance and self-esteem without having to go under the knife. According to the latest statistics from The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, injectable dermal filler is the number two most popular nonsurgical procedure performed (right behind botulinum toxin —Botox, Dysport, Xeomin) and is up a staggering 54% since 2013. And since dermal filler doesn’t discriminate, the popularity of these types of injectables in treating too thin or age-related thinning of the lips is wide reaching. So let’s not digress. Here’s how your lips show their age, and some of the best ways to treat them.
Your lips in your 20’s:
In your 20’s, your lips are still the plump little pillows you were born with. The signs of aging in the lip (thinning, dryness and even sagging) haven’t hit your pretty little pout… yet. Some of us, however, are born more genetically blessed in the lip department. Problems like a thin upper or lower lip inherited from your grandmother or a lopsided lip can throw off the symmetry of the face. A lip line where the corner’s droop down on the ends can also make someone look more stern and unhappy then they might actually feel.
Hyaluronic acid-based dermal fillers like Juvederm and Restylane can address any asymmetry or cranky-face issues with precise placement of these temporary products into the offending area. The results are immediate, and outside of some swelling or bruising, there’s very little downtime. In the hands of an experienced injector, a patient can choose the shape and size that they’d like their lips to be, without looking like they’ve had “work done” to the area. A good injector, too. will remind you that overly aggressive filler can have the opposite effect, making you look even older than you are. So, you know... something to be aware of.
And let’s just give a shout out to prevention. Hydration, hydration, hydration—but sans the straw. Repetitive puckering can cause wrinkling around the lip area, and a wrinkled pucker is something that’s going to be bothersome in the future, particularly if you're a fan of wearing lipstick which will feather its way to other areas of your face. Also, your lips don’t have sweat glands, so for God's sake keep those babies moisturized with a nice lip balm. And sunscreen. Forever. #rantover
Your lips in your 30’s:
Your 30’s is when your body’s ability to create collagen and elastin (the fibers that make up the structure of your skin and keep it all firm and supple) begins its descent into deterioration. So, you know. The beginning of the end. We’re kidding. But a person in their 30’s may begin to see the beginning signs of aging around the lip area. The fine lines and dryness from excessive sun exposure that used to go away with a change in facial movement, may start to etch its way onto even the straightest of faces. And lipstick feathering? You may start to realize… it’s a thing. A real thing.
The good news is that, in your 30’s, these changes will be subtle and won’t require much to get them back on track. A good doctor will know exactly how, where, and how deep dermal filler needs to be injected to undo the beginning stages of the damage that lifestyle and father time will eventually inflict upon all of us. They may also recommend that you incorporate a retinol treatment and/or regular microdermabrasion treatments into your skincare regime to help stave off any fine lines and wrinkling. Continued skincare, sunscreen and hydration is a biggie too—remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure (or something like that.)
While having lip enhancements in one’s 20’s and 30’s is mainly focused on correcting—a lack of symmetry, size and/or shape—having them in your 40’s and beyond is another matter entirely. And that matter is called restoration.
Your lips in your 40’s - 50’s:
Nothing says a dramatic entrance like a bold red lip, so let’s hope you’ve been keeping up with that prevention thing, eh? ’Cause the feathering, wrinkling, drying and thinning that we’d alluded to thus far… well, they’re not getting any better. In your 40’s the lips may start to lose their shape as their structure changes due to that pesky collagen/ elastin thing we mentioned earlier. The corners of the mouth can become weaker, pulling your lips into a perpetual frown. And the possibility of pronounced laugh and marionette lines etching their way to your nose and your chin… I can’t even. As these changes occur, the structure of the mid face also starts to droop, incrementally, which over-time can lead to an extension of the space between the nose and lip with the lips slightly dropping themselves.
Clearly, there’s some nonsense afoot. And that’s just fine, because today’s best plastic surgeons are attuned to the way the lips, mouth and skin age and have an arsenal of treatments with which to repair and restore your lip area. Dermal fillers, again, are a popular way plump up a lip that’s lost structure and prop up the corners of a downturned mouth. Your doctor may recommend microdermabrasion, a chemical peel or Intense Pulsed Light treatments to help reduce any light wrinkling, and may recommend dermal filler to fill in deep wrinkles. Doctors are even using a mix of filler and neurotoxin like Botox to recreate a drooping cupid’s bow, which can offer up a more youthful and refreshed kisser.
Your lips in your 60’s and beyond:
If your lips are in this stage of life, none of what we mentioned above will surprise you. In fact, you and your plastic surgeon may already be masters at correcting any and all nonsense that Father Time has doled out. Perhaps encouraging collagen growth, restoring fullness, staving off wrinkles and correcting facial structure through prevention, good skincare and in-office treatments with a licensed and experienced professional is old-hat to you. You’re a total pro. But there are a few things that your doctor has up his sleeve to help treat the advanced signs of aging in the lip area. Fat grafting in lieu of dermal filler can provide long-lasting, safe and natural looking results. A surgical facelift can also be an alternative to help treat any mid- and lower-face sagging that’s dragging you (and your lips) down.
The important take-away is this: lips, like the rest of us, age. And regardless of how crappy that reality is, at least there are things we can do about it. So let’s embrace our lips at every age, do our best to take care of the skin we’re in, and when it’s appropriate, consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon about lip enhancements and other treatments to do the correcting and restoring business.