How lips age

A full lip is not only a common request from many cosmetic patients these days, but also one that is quite understandable. It’s not just that we see images of Hollywood stars with big full lips against which we measure our own, but rather that there are real anatomical changes that occur in the lips as we age.

Changes in lips with age

Loss of lip volume

As we get older, our plump lips begin to thin out along with the loss of fat that occurs in other areas of the face. Although the loss of fat is equal in both lips, it usually shows more in the upper lip. A thin upper lip gives you a “mean” look. Anatomically, there should be more fat in the lower lip than the upper lip.

Droopy mouth corners

As the skin on the lower face looses elasticity, the corners of the mouth and lips will start to droop, giving you that “sad” look. There are options for elevation of the corners with surgery and also with injecting fillers.
Lip lines
These vertical lines in the lips run from the red part of the lip up to the skin at the edges. Sometimes called “smoker’s lines,” they are formed due to over-activity of the muscles around the mouth. Smokers obviously pucker their lips a lot during the day, hence the nickname. Patients often complain that lipstick runs in them. Come to think of it, if you give too many kisses, you may get the same problem!

Lip lines can be filled


Lengthening of the upper lip

With age, we also see a lengthening of the skin part of the upper lip; the distance between the red part of the lip and the nose increases due to increased elasticity. This long upper lip may cover the upper teeth even when we smile, which decreases attractiveness. There is an ideal “incisor show” of 2-3 mm, which is the amount of teeth seen under the upper lip at rest. As the lip elongates and falls with age, less of the teeth is visible. Surgeries are available to decrease vertical lip length.
There are a number of anatomical causes for signs of aging in the lips. They have definite characteristics that can be addressed by specific plastic surgical interventions.

Morad Tavallali, M.D., FACS

Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon

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