How to get rid of smokers lines


How to get rid of smoker's lines

As we age, fine lines and wrinkles inevitably appear, but certain lifestyle factors, like smoking, can accelerate this process. Among the most stubborn are the vertical lines that form above the lip, commonly referred to as smoker's lines or barcode lines. Whilst treating these lines might be difficult, there are some new treatments available in the world of aesthetic medicine that help to soften these without risking of an overdone appearance. This article explores the causes of smoker's lines, innovative treatments available, and essential skincare products to prevent further damage.

Why do smoker's lines appear?

The formation of smoker's lines can be attributed primarily to the dynamic activity of the orbicularis oris muscle, a complex muscle around the mouth responsible for puckering and other movements. We use this muscle constantly when we talk, eat and (in some people), when we smoke. Over time, repetitive contraction of this muscle, especially in smokers, leads to structural changes in the skin. Collagen and elastin, the proteins responsible for skin elasticity and resilience, degrade over time due to these repeated motions and exposure to oxidative stress, particularly from cigarette smoke which contains free radicals and impairs blood flow to the skin and other tissues.

Genetics also play a role, determining skin thickness, resilience, and at what age these lines might begin to appear. Other environmental factors, in particular UV exposure from the sun accelerate collagen breakdown, compounding the effect of mechanical stress from muscle movements. Over time, the cumulative result is formation of radial, vertical lines around the mouth that can become permanent, even when the face is at rest.

How to treat smoker’s lines

Treating smoker’s lines involves a thorough assessment, as multiple layers of anatomy are generally affected - from fat reduction in the deep tissue, to slightly strong muscles surrounding the mouth, to skin and other tissue thinning and damage from the toxins in smoke. At my clinic, I usually integrate several aesthetic treatments to fully address smoker's lines, as the cause usually affects several elements of the anatomy of the area. These include treatments that help to restore volume, balance muscle tone in the area and also help to improve skin quality and texture. A consultation for smoker’s lines is always recommended before embarking on a treatment course, as often multiple steps are needed and every case will be slightly different. Treatments are often combined and may include:

Anti-Wrinkle Injections

Anti-wrinkle injections  are a cornerstone treatment for smoker’s lines. These involve using botulinum toxin to relax the orbicularis oris muscle, which in turn reduces the formation and deepening of lines. These injections must be administered exceptionally carefully to achieve soften lines without affecting the normal movements of the mouth. If these are overdone then it can result in stiffness, speech issues and even dribbling. Usually a single treatment is required every 3 months or so. Generally results will start to show after a few sessions, but you may notice some improvement after one session. Improving skin quality in tandem with anti-wrinkle injections is most often needed in addition.

Dermal Fillers: Teosyal Redensity 1

Hybrid soft dermal fillers like Teosyal Redensity 1 are particularly effective for replacing lost volume and improving skin quality. This hyaluronic acid-based product not only fills the wrinkles but also promotes hydration and skin quality improvements over the course of several months. In some cases, slightly thicker fillers might be appropriate, but these must be done very carefully to avoid a cushion like appearance developing above the lip or forward projection of the lip itself. Often 2 sessions of dermal fillers are required for smoker’s lines.

Skin Boosters: Profhilo and Polynucleotides

Skin boosters such as Profhilo and polynucleotide treatments inject bio-compatible substances that stimulate collagen and elastin production. The aim of these treatments is to improve skin texture and thickness, without adding volume. Injected more superficially in the skin compared to dermal fillers, these injectable treatments hydrate the skin from within, improving its overall firmness but without ever risking an overdone, puffy appearance. Again, several sessions of these treatments are often needed for best results.

Morpheus8 and Other Skin Resurfacing Treatments

Skin resurfacing for Smoker’s lines is a fairly popular treatment that involves the creation of tiny controlled injuries on the skin, in order to stimulate new collagen and elastin production in the dermis of the skin. There are many ways to create such injuries, from simple microneedling treatments to more advanced lasers and fractional radiofrequency treatments such as Morpheus8. The latter treatment in particular combines microneedling with radiofrequency energy to remodel and contour the skin at a deep dermis level level. This helps, over the course of about 3-6 months, to tighten and rejuvenate the skin around the lips, effectively reducing the appearance of deep-set wrinkles. Other skin resurfacing treatments, such as laser therapy and chemical peels, also contribute to a smoother skin texture by removing the outermost layers of skin and promoting dermal regeneration.

Risks Associated with Treatments for smoker’s lines

While these treatments are generally safe, potential risks of treatments for smoker’s lines may include short term issues such as bruising, swelling, and asymmetry, all of which are typically temporary and manageable. It is particularly important to see a practitioner who is well versed in managing any possible complications so I’d always suggest seeing a doctor for these treatments who is experienced in treating this complex anatomical area.

Essential Skincare to Complement Clinical Treatments

Although smoker’s lines usually will require more intense treatments, a good but simple skincare routine plays a vital role in managing and preventing future development of smoker's lines:

  • Vitamin C Serums: Antioxidant-rich serums can help protect the skin from environmental damage while boosting collagen production.
  • Sunscreen: Daily use of high-factor sunscreen (broad spectrum SPF50+) prevents further photoaging and the deepening of wrinkles.
  • Retinoids: Promote cell turnover and collagen synthesis, aiding in the reduction of fine lines.
  • Collagen Stimulators: Products containing ingredients like peptides can help in rebuilding and maintaining skin resilience.


For more information or to schedule a consultation, visit Dr. David Jack's clinic.

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