Smokers lines. Marionette lines. Barcode lip. The names are different, but the look is the same: drawn, wrinkled and a tell-tale sign of aging. There's nothing more annoying to a woman than seeing her lips thin and take on the brittle texture that no amount of hydrating topical solution can effectively combat. Because the lips and eyes are the focal point of the face, any signs of aging in those areas are very impactful and hard to cover up. The good news is that innovations keep coming in the area of aesthetics and there are some new tools in the tool box to soften this uniquely feminine and youthful feature of the face by a combining them into a 3D approach.
If you’re thinking, “a 3D approach, that sounds promising!” you’re right! But before I explain how our solution works, let me explain how we get those annoying barcode lips in the first place. As we age, there are a number of things that come into play that make your upper lip look like you are a pack-a-day smoker (hopefully you are NOT an actual smoker because that will age you faster than warp speed!). The perioral area of your face is the lower third that includes the philtrum, Cupid’s bow, lips, nasolabial folds, and labiomental folds. With aging, this area experiences bone demineralization which drives structural volume loss. Yes, our facial structure shrinks as we age, just like our height. This is an important reason to keep calcium levels up and to make sure to eat a TON of leafy green vegetables and do consistent, weight-bearing exercise. But I digress. What else contributes to these nasty lip lines? Overall skin thinning, fat loss, stiffening of texture and diminishing pliability. Yes friends, it’s not good. But…back to the hope!
In my Westport, CT practice we first go on the 3D offensive against those pinched “grandma” lips by going into the dermis of the skin using Threads made of polydioxanone, or PDO. Threads not only help to give some tightening to the upper lip area, but they also integrate into the deep tissue and help to stimulate collagen deep in the dermis, thickening this thin layer and thus restoring volume.
The second part of our 3D offensive addresses both the surface and the underlying dermis. We use dermabrasion, the gold standard of skin resurfacing, to make the skin area more pliable, remove the top most layer of dull, damaged skin and smooth the skin texture. Dermabrasion also stimulates and promotes the deeper dermis to create its own youthful elixir of collagen.
In some cases, there is an additional value to adding a chemical peel on top of the newly abraded tissue to further stimulate softening of the tissue and regeneration of elastin and collagen.
The last weapon in our 3D arsenal is a light application of Botox to relax the small muscles surrounding the upper lip. The high repetition of lip pursing that we unconsciously perform daily creates the folds of the “bar code.” The lip muscle is tightly adherent to the overlying skin and makes this imprint very obvious. We don’t go too heavy-handed with the Botox in this area otherwise you risk getting a “frozen” upper lip that doesn’t move naturally – not a pretty look!
We suggest that our patients take care of and protect their 3D results with various at-home products including light weekly peels and Hyaluronic acids. Our Revision skin care product line offers some excellent options including Vitamin C, an HA serum and a retinol formulation.