Answer: According to Dr Gary Goldenberg of the Mount Sinai Hospital Department of Dermatology, smokers lines are dynamic wrinkles– produced by continued use of specific muscles. The continual pursing of the lips during smoking over work the muscles around the mouth. Sun exposure which damages collagen also plays a big role in the development of vertical lines. Even more troubling the smoke from the cigarettes actually increases the production of an enzyme in the body which breaks down collagen. And there’s more bad news. As time goes by we lose fat pads under the skin and as volume declines, there is just too much skin for the face. The surface ripples much the way a pair of pants sag when we lose weight.
Treating Smokers Lines
There is a virtual buffet of treatment options for smokers lines. If you are young and the lines are just starting to show, an office bsed microdermabrasion treatment can offer some improvement. Dr Goldenberg recommends a TCA peel to remove superficial layers to reveal soft, smooth ‘baby skin’. First the lip is slathered with a lidocaine cream and Dr Goldenberg waits up to an hour for the anesthetic to work. The peel solution is applied with a gauze pad and remains on the upper lip area for 1-3 minutes. Then it is rinsed off with neutralizing solution and a emollient may be applied to reduce inflammation. The lip will stay red for several days and may become crusty. ( FYI don’t do this less than one month before a big event)
If the wrinkles are deeper, Dr Goldenberg recommends a short session with Fraxel, the noninvasive laser. As with the TCA peel, the skin is numbed and a five minute laser session will zap away those all too common lines. Once the surface has been treated with a peel or Fraxel, Botox can also relax the lines which are pulling the skin into fine lines. Finally fillers like Belotero which can be injected right under the skin, will restore volume to the area. Both the Botox and filler can be injected a week or more after the TCA peel or Fraxel.
Dr Goldenberg feels that combining different tools can yield the best, even spectacular results. For example, he can treat the surface with a TCA peel and then refine the results with well-placed Botox.
One final thought. Not all treatments are suitable for all skin types. If you have darker skin tones, Fraxel and peels can cause dark splotches and Botox and fillers alone can be a safer option.