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As we age, parts of our body we didn’t even anticipate wrinkling manage to do so. Whether it’s the slow arrival of more pronounced nasolabial folds, or a permanently furrowed brow, our bodies are always changing as time marches on. One area that can betray our lives most clearly? The mouth: wrinkles can begin to appear around our lips and chin for any number of reasons, but not everyone is thrilled. So we wanted to know: what causes wrinkles around the mouth, and how do you get rid of them?
To give you the best answers possible we spoke to leading Craniofacial, Aesthetic and Plastic Surgeon Dr Graeme Glass. What he doesn’t know about wrinkles, simply put, is not worth knowing.
We started by asking him: what exactly is a wrinkle? “In dynamic facial movement, wrinkles are caused by contractions of the underlying muscles (usually orientated perpendicularly to the wrinkle),” Graeme explains. “With time and loss of dermal volume and pliability, these folds in the skin become manifest in repose (static facial position).” In certain areas of the face – jowls, nasolabial folds – wrinkles are then accentuated by “the transition zones between relatively mobile and relatively fixed areas of the face”, aka parts that you move a lot and parts that don’t move very much at all.
In this piece, we asked Dr Graeme Glass to help answer the following questions:
Wrinkles around the mouth are caused by the folding of skin over a ring of muscle called orbicularis oris that travels in a loop around the mouth and lips. Repeated contractions of this muscle result in repeated folding of the skin. With loss of dermal volume and pliability caused by skin ageing (especially extrinsic skin ageing), the ability of the skin to spring back into shape between contractions diminishes, resulting in permanent perioral wrinkles. Wrinkles around the chin and jowl area are accentuated by the transition from the mobile to fixed skin around the mandibular-cutaneous ligaments.
The formation of wrinkles is advanced by lifestyle behaviors that favour pursing of the lips such as smoking (which also results in extrinsic skin ageing) and using straws instead of sipping from a cup.
Finally, being edentulous (having no front teeth) also predisposes to circumoral wrinkles because of the loss of underlying support for the lips.
The orbicularis oris muscle is vital for speech and for oral continence (preventing the leakage of food and fluids from the mouth) and thus preventing muscle contractions here by way of injectables is not advisable. Instead, preventing circumoral wrinkles can be achieved by targeting skin ageing (especially extrinsic skin ageing). Strategies to minimize extrinsic skin ageing include avoidance of smoking, sun exposure, poor diet and significant fluctuations in weight.
The avoidance of behaviours that promote repetitive pursing of the lips is also helpful, such as avoiding smoking and the use of straws.
Avoidance is better than cure. Established fine wrinkles around the mouth can be managed by laser therapy, including low level laser therapy (LLLT), chemical peels or dermabrasion. Deep wrinkles can also be improved by lasers, peels or dermabrasion or by dermal fillers to enhance localised dermal volume. But this is usually a temporary solution.
Avoidance, again, is better than cure! Non-clinical solutions target the avoidance of extrinsic skin ageing.
Lasers, peels and dermabrasion will all help. A deep plane face and neck lift will improve wrinkles around the chin and jowls. Deep circumoral lines can be improved (temporarily) by dermal fillers.
For more info on these different types of treatments and how to look after your skin in the best way to slow down and even reverse the ageing process, do not hesitate to contact LYMA's help and support team via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.