Treatments for Smoker's Lines Around The Mouth

treatments for smoker's lines around the mouth

Treatments for smoker's lines around the mouth are challenging but now there are things you can do to improve them. Most people call these vertical lines around the mouth 'smoker's lines' but they aren't necessarily from smoking.  Everybody will eventually get them as they age, smokers just get them earlier, and so do women.

I want to give you a quick overview of how I treat them in my dermatology practice.  To reduce the appearance of vertical lines around your mouth consider one or more of the following treatments.

The Best Treatments For 'Smoker's Lines'

Use skin care products that brighten your skin and stimulate collagen renewal to soften vertical lines around your mouth.

Brightening the skin will help lessening the dark, wrinkled textural appearance of this visually important area. Brightening your skin is something you can do with your at-home skin care routine.

best retinol for lip lines

The best products to brighten skin include:

1) The retinoid family of ingredients

This includes prescription tretinoin, and non-prescription retinol  (proven to have the same functionality as tretinoin, but available without prescription) as in my Retinol Ultra Intensive Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream. These are night treatment products. I make sure that a retinoid is on my face every night when I go to bed.  There are 3 reasons why a retinoid cream is the best wrinkle cream for lip lines:

  1. Retinoids stimulate collagen renewal to fight wrinkles.
  2. They brighten skin texture and tone.
  3. They reduce any hyperpigmentation or uneven skin color that makes wrinkles look worse.

This all helps to reduce the appearance of vertical lines around the mouth.

Learn more: How to Apply Tretinoin Cream: A Guide to Demystifying Its Use

2) Glycolic acid AHA products

best aha cream for vertical lip lines around the mouth

AHAs brighten skin quickly for fast improvement in lip lines around the mouth. The best AHA products contain glycolic acid with a concentration over 10% and pH around 4 such as my Glycolic Acid Anti-Wrinkle Face Cream. Like retinoids, a professional glycolic acid product can stimulate new collagen formation under your skin to actually build up the area to help permanently diminish the wrinkles. They brighten skin and fight hyperpigmentation. They also stimulate deep skin hyaluronic acid production to plump up wrinkles to soften their appearance and create glowing skin. You can apply glycolic acid over a retinoid at bedtime to double up on benefits. Glycolic acid is also a great day treatment. 

3) Hyaluronic acid serums

Another fast trick to reduce the appearance of smoker's lines around the mouth is to plump up the skin with a hyaluronic acid serum. This will help fill in the lines temporarily so that the skin looks smoother. 

best hyaluronic acid serum to fight vertical lines around the mouth

Hyaluronic acid is a natural water sponge, binding up to 1000 times its weight in water. This can help to plump vertical lines around the mouth to soften their appearance. Fractionated hyaluronic acid serum for best results because the different sizes of hyaluronic acid will stratify in the layers of your skin for maximal benefit - The larger molecules sit on top to help trap water and the variable size smaller molecules plump all the available skin layers.

My Instantly Luminous Multi-action Serum is made with state-of-the-art fractionated hyaluronic acid. It is what I apply to my face every morning after cleansing and before applying other products. The results are temporary, but I'll take them.  

4) Exfoliate skin to brighten texture and tone 

best face cleanser to get rid of vertical lines around the mouth

Exfoliation gives instant gratification for brightening skin. Use a simple exfoliating cleanser such as my Triple-Action Exfoliating Cleanser daily for bright skin. It combines salicylic acid and glycolic acid with eco-friendly beads for gentle cleansing and exfoliating in one step. Use in in the morning as a daily cleanser on moist skin or use it three times a week massaged onto dry skin for more vigorous exfoliation. 

Do a series of superficial professional skin treatments that peel, abrade and brighten the skin to soften vertical lines around the mouth.

These treatments include

  • microdermabrasion treatments,
  • chemical peels,
  • microneedling, and
  • intense pulsed light treatments (called BBL in my office).

A series of these treatments can gently stimulate collagen renewal to help build-up the superficial dermis and reduce wrinkles. It can also reduce uneven pigment and brighten the skin around your mouth, thus improving the rough, textural appearance of your perioral skin (the area around the mouth). Brighter, lighter, and more evenly colored skin looks smoother and less wrinkled because it throws more light.  

Consider having a cosmetic procedure that treats the deeper layers of the skin to help stimulate collagen to reduce vertical lines around the mouth.

The perioral lines (wrinkles) are actually due to both collagen thinning and tissue volume loss in the deeper levels of your skin.  The muscle around your mouth purses this thinner tissue when you move your mouth, etching wrinkles in permanently over time. Botox injections can help temporarily reduce the movement of these muscles to soften the wrinkling process, but to really reverse these wrinkles, you need treatments that reach deeply into the dermis to rebuild collagen and/or volume.

Dermal filler injection is the easiest and quickest treatment for wrinkles around the mouth - it's almost instant gratification!

Dermal filler injection replaces some of your tissue volume that's lost with age.  My absolute favorite filler is the Juvederm family of hyaluronic acid fillers. You get instant results that last a long time.  Plus, these are soft hyaluronic acid fillers that may even be biostimulatory, meaning that your body may naturally build collagen where filler was placed to give you potentially longer lasting rejuvenation.

Botox or other neurotoxins work because vertical wrinkles around the mouth are dynamic wrinkles.

Dynamic wrinkles happen to the skin over active muscles. The muscles around your mouth encircle your lips and when you whistle, pucker, talk, sip from a straw or smile these muscles contract and move, creating wrinkling of the overlying skin.

Over time, as skin thins with age and sun damage, the wrinkles become deeper and are present even when you are not moving your lips. You want to slow this process by use products that stimulate collagen renewal to keep your skin firm. You can also have Botox injected into the muscles to reduce the dynamic movement of pursing your lips. It needs to be done carefully by an experienced injector because you need your lip muscles to function normal for eating, drinking, talking and for normal facial appearance!  

Laser resurfacing procedures help you build collagen in the mid to superficial dermis, just above where we place fillers. 

When you combine laser resurfacing procedures with fillers you get the best, and most comprehensive improvement in this deeper skin layer.

To significantly treat perioral lines the laser procedures need to be pretty deep and you will most definitely have down time.  Think of these ablative laser treatments as a 'controlled injury' that stimulates collagen as a part of your body's healing process.  You continue to build collagen for up to 6 months after having a laser treatment.  We usually recommend a series of treatments for optimal collagen stimulation.

The laser resurfacing procedures that I've seen give the best results with the fewest risks are the ablative erbium laser treatments. In my office I use the Sciton erbium laser for Tunable Laser Resurfacing, Micro Laser Peel and ProFractional laser treatments. The laser is so flexible and easy for us to use that we can combine treatments in one session for our patients so that we can get a lot done with each treatment. CO2 lasers are also very popular and highly effective. There are other lasers and it's best to ask your dermatologist or plastic surgeon what they personally recommend. 

You could also consider deeper chemical acid peels to create a 'controlled injury' sufficient to stimulate collagen formation in the deeper skin layers. 

These treatments, like laser resurfacing, will have significant down time and are always done by physicians.



What's the best treatment for perioral lines, wrinkles?

It's all of the above!

For my patients,

First, I build them a skin care regimen that brightens skin, stimulates collagen and slows the aging process.  My 'go-to' products include the combination of products in my Ultimate Sun Damage and Pigment Repair Kit. This kit includes professional-strength glycolic acid and retinol for collagen stimulation and a Complete Skin Care Routine aimed to enhance skin penetration of these important ingredients. We use this Complete Skin Care Routine for 3 to 4 months then stop the Pigment Fading Pads and replace them with Instantly Luminous Multi-action Serum. Adding Triple Action Cleanser in the morning is another great addition to a maintenance routine that enhances results. 

best creams skin care treatment for vertical lines around the mouth and smoker's lines


Click here to see my Ultimate Pigment an Sun Damage Repair Kit to start treating the vertical 'smoker's' lines around the mouth with the best wrinkle-fighting creams and skin care routine.

Alternatively, if you are on tretinoin, you can use the individual products and apply your tretinoin in place of the retinol or alternating it with the retinol. 

Second, we do a couple of laser resurfacing treatments spaced about 6 weeks apart and then finish with Juvederm dermal filler injection treatment at about 6 weeks after the last laser treatment.  At that time, we also begin a program of regular professional skin care treatments with my aestheticians including facials with either microdermabrasion treatments or light chemical peels. 

This comprehensive 'all of the above' approach is transformational, taking years off of a person's appearance.  Not only are the perioral vertical lines improved, but the entire facial appearance benefits.

Smoker's perioral lines are some of the toughest facial aging issues to treat.  In my dermatology practice I find that they're also one of the things that bother people the most about their appearance - they imply a look of wear and tear and none of us like seeing this in the mirror.  Happily, we now have some great options to help tame the appearance of 'smoker's lines'.