Wrinkles occur when your skin loses collagen. These are the fibers that make your skin firm and supple. Collagen losses occur naturally with age, but there are also other skin components and certain lifestyle habits that may speed up this process. The resulting wrinkles tend to be most prominent around thinner areas of your face, including around the mouth.
While wrinkles happen to everyone as they age, there are ways you may help reduce their appearance. You may even be able to take steps to prevent mouth wrinkles from developing prematurely.
The mouth area is one of the first spots on your face that may develop wrinkles. Part of this is due to the thinness of the skin, which already has less collagen compared to other areas of the face. Your skin starts producing an estimated 1 percent less collagen every year once you turn 20 years old.
Besides collagen, there are other aspects of the skin aging process to consider, such as a loss of elastin and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), which contribute to skin elasticity and hydration, respectively. These are known as intrinsic or natural aging.
There are also extrinsic factors that may increase your risk for premature wrinkles around the mouth. They are outside influences that speed up this process. Examples include:
Aestheticians often refer to mouth wrinkles as perioral wrinkles. This is a general term to describe lines that develop around the lip area. There are more specific subtypes of wrinkles around the mouth to be aware of, too.
Smile lines. Also known as laugh lines, smile lines are the wrinkles that occur along the sides of your mouth. Also known as nasolabial folds, smile lines tend to be more noticeable when you laugh or smile
Marionette lines. These are another type of wrinkles that develop with age. They develop vertically from your mouth to your chin, which can create a sagging appearance.
Lipstick lines. There are also wrinkles that affect your lip area only. Also known as vertical lip lines or smoker’s lines, they are lip wrinkles that develop along your upper lip as well as directly on the lips themselves.
Before seeing an aesthetician for potentially time-consuming and expensive deep wrinkle treatments, there may be some home remedies you can use for mild to moderate wrinkles around the mouth. Keep in mind that these remedies may reduce the appearance of but won’t get rid of fine lines and wrinkles completely.
When diluted with a carrier oil, certain essential oils may increase firmness and skin cell turnover to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Before applying diluted essential oils to your face, you’ll want to do a patch test on the inside of your elbow a couple of days beforehand to ensure you aren’t allergic to the oil.
Apply a small amount with your fingertips to the mouth and lip area twice a day. Don’t use this remedy directly on your lips. You may consider trying the following essential oils:
frankincense, to increase cell turnover lemon, due to its antioxidant content (don’t use before sun exposure) lavender, due to anti-oxidative and wound-healing properties
- sandalwood, due to anti-inflammatory effects
Some plant-derived oils normally used for cooking could potentially work as spot treatments for wrinkles while also providing moisture. Apply a small amount to the affected area twice daily. Unlike essential oils, plant oils may also be safe enough to use on your lips.
Research has shown that plant oils contain essential fatty acids, which may promote firmness and elasticity of the skin, and also combat signs of photoaging from the sun. Consider trying the following:
Home remedies may help reduce the appearance of mild lines around the mouth. To treat deeper wrinkles though, a dermatologist may recommend one of the following aesthetic treatments.
As one of the most commonly used anti-aging treatments, a chemical peel works by removing the top layer of your skin (epidermis) to reveal smoother, more radiant skin underneath. These are typically done on a monthly basis to help maintain your results.
Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion
Both dermabrasion and microdermabrasion are exfoliating techniques that can be used to reduce the appearance of wrinkles around the mouth. Dermabrasion is the stronger of the two, as it uses a large brush to remove the outer layer and up to several layers of skin. Microdermabrasion uses fine crystals or diamond tipped wands to remove the upper layer of skin.
Microneedling, also known as collagen induction therapy, is a procedure that uses small needles to prick your skin via a device called a dermaroller or microneedling pen. The idea is that your skin will be smoother once it heals from the small wounds made during the process. You will need to undergo multiple sessions over the course of several months for best results.
Sometimes platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is combined with microneedling in a procedure known as a “vampire facial.” The PRP itself is derived from your own blood platelets processed in a centrifuge before being injected back into your skin. PRP may help create plumper-looking skin to reduce wrinkles, but you’ll likely need the procedure again after a year.
For deeper smile and marionette lines, a dermatologist might recommend injectable dermal fillers. These are made with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and poly-L-lactic acid, which help to “plump” the targeted area of skin to help temporarily smooth out wrinkles.
Dermal fillers wear off after several months and you will need to get more injections to help maintain results.
Also administered by injections, Botox (botulinum toxin type A) works by relaxing facial muscles that might create a tight, wrinkled appearance. While this treatment is best known for eye wrinkles, it may also benefit lines in the lip and upper lip area, as well as improve the appearance of marionette lines.
Laser skin resurfacing
Laser skin resurfacing is a more invasive treatment for wrinkles. A dermatologist uses high beams of light to remove the outer layer of your skin, which may also unintentionally lead to scarring. Like other skin peeling treatments, you will need to repeat the procedure after a few months.
A cosmetic surgeon may recommend a facelift (rhytidectomy) for significant mouth area wrinkles that don’t respond well to other treatments. This procedure helps smooth wrinkles and correct sagging skin via incisions, fat transfers, and the lifting of muscles and skin tissues. Like other cosmetic surgery, a facelift is considered a major procedure.
While you can’t completely prevent the natural aging process that leads to facial wrinkles, it’s possible adopt healthy habits that can help slow down their onset. This includes:
- not smoking (this can be difficult, but a doctor can help you create a cessation plan that works for you
- not using a straw when drinking
- drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated
- reducing your caffeine and alcohol intake
- eating a diet rich in antioxidant-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables
- limiting your exposure to the sun by avoiding peak hours and wearing sunscreen every day
- getting at least seven hours of sleep every night
- reducing your daily stress at work and home
- avoiding body weight fluctuations, if possible
A good skin care regimen also goes a long way in preventing the onset of premature wrinkles. Make sure you wash your face twice daily and follow up with an anti-aging serum and moisturizer tailored to your skin type. Exfoliate at least twice per week to get rid of the dead skin cells that can make wrinkles more noticeable.
Some websites tout facial exercises to help “firm” your skin in the same way as a facelift. While exercise could potentially improve the appearance of your skin due to increased muscle mass, this does little, if anything to treat wrinkles.
Mouth wrinkles are common with the natural aging process. If you’re looking to reduce the appearance of these facial lines, you have multiple options. Talk to a dermatologist about what might work best in your case.
Using wrinkle products at home can help but results may not show for several weeks. It can take up to 3 months for a new product to work. You should wait a minimum of 6 weeks before moving on to something else.
Preventive measures can also go a long way in preventing wrinkles around the mouth. Taking care of your health now can do wonders for your body and your skin, too.