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March 3, 2010

Getting Rid of Those Pesky Lip Lines

red lips

Q: What can I do to diminish the vertical lines that have formed above my upper lip?  –Barb

A:  I haven’t the slightest idea, Barb! So I called in Dr. Jamie Davis of Uptown Dermatology in Minneapolis for advice. Here’s what she had to say:

Treatment choice depends on the cause of the lines/wrinkles. Most common causes are sun damage (loss of skin elasticity), underlying muscle movements (puckering, smoking, etc.), volume loss due to aging (lips lose fat and collagen and get thinner over time). Treatment options include:

  1. Resurfacing with a Pixel laser or chemical peel to remove fine lines.
  2. Botox to soften muscle movements (oh, and STOP smoking!)
  3. Juvederm in the lip border and/or body of the lip to refill lost volume.
  4. A combination of the above!

This is an area where products—especially anything over-the-counter—are notoriously useless. And products commonly prescribed for wrinkles, like Retin-A, Differin, and Obagi, are too irritating for the upper lip. If you still prefer something topical to a treatment, Retin-A (RENOVA) might help. It’s is gently exfoliating, builds collagen, and available by prescription only.

BOTTOM LINE: The best treatment is to start early in life with daily sunscreen and never smoke!

This weekly column features beauty advice from yours truly, with help from some of the brightest experts in the business. Whether you’re searching for the best bronzer or contemplating Botox, send questions to

  • Elizabeth Dehn
    Born and raised in Minnesota by surprisingly low-maintenance parents, beauty writer and lifestyle editor Elizabeth Dehn (aka Bets) spent her awkward years buying Mood lipstick and whipping up DIY face masks before founding Beauty Bets in 2009.
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