Everybody’s skin inevitably wrinkles as they age, no matter how many cosmetic procedures a person experiences in an effort to delay the wrinkling and sagging of aging skin. Although it may seem perfectly normal to assume that men and women experience skin wrinkling in similar ways, recent research regarding gender differences and wrinkles has found that men may have the edge over women. In fact, when it comes to “mouth” wrinkles–those fine lines radiating outward from the lips so that it appears that the lips are puckered–women, unfortunately, suffer from deeper and more excessive mouth wrinkling than men do who are of the same age.
Why is this considered a gender difference and what makes women more vulnerable to wrinkling around the mouth?
Dermatologists say that the reason involves the amount of sebaceous glands and hair follicles as well as the affiliation between the muscles and skin of the upper and bottom lips. Women do not have as many sebaceous and sweat glands that men have around their mouths, which help keep the skin supple and protects the skin from the drying effects of sun, wind and air pollutants. In addition, the skin closely surrounding a woman’s mouth and comprising her lips contain less blood vessels than male mouths. Less blood flow to an area of skin means that skin may not receive sufficient nutrients and oxygen levels that are beneficial to preventing the appearance of wrinkles.
Another major gender difference that researchers suspect plays a significant role in the development of wrinkles around the mouth concerns hormones, specifically estrogen and progesterone. When a woman experiences menopause, the level of these hormones drops dramatically as the ovaries gradually cease producing eggs. Since estrogen contributes to skin health and stimulates blood flow, older women tend to have deeper wrinkles than men. Moreover, sebaceous glands do not release as much as sebum following menopause, which causes the skin to feel dry and less supple. Clinical studies involving women participating in hormone replacement therapy have further found that women on HRT experience less wrinkling around the mouth and other areas of the face.
Does Smoking Increase Mouth Wrinkles in Women?
Not only does smoking cause premature mouth wrinkles but it also attacks the skin in other ways that induce signs of premature aging by forcing harmful free radicals into the bloodstream. Free radicals are unstable molecules believed to be responsible for a host of degenerative diseases and are suspected of having a major role in how and why we age. In regards to skin health, free radicals inhibit the ability of healthy skin cells to perform their normal functions. Capillaries that carry nutrients and oxygen to our skin suffer damage when the cells lining inner vessel walls restrict the flow of blood. Consequently, the skin of a smoker becomes malnourished in a way similar to the way someone suffers health issues when they do not consume enough vitamins and minerals necessary to maintain good health.
Without sufficient blood flow, collagen production slows, skin becomes dryer and tighter and the smoker’s skin begins to show signs of premature wrinkling. Also contributing to mouth wrinkles is the fact that smokers are consistently pursing their lips to inhale or hold the cigarette in their mouth. Some also tend to squint when they smoke to prevent the smoke from irritating their eyes. After awhile, both of these puckering and squinting behaviors becomes more of a habit than a necessity, which is why the traditional “smoker’s face” features include considerable wrinkling around the mouth and the eyes. Moreover, women who smoke almost always have more severe mouth wrinkling than men who smoke due to the hormonal and glandular factors discussed earlier in this article.
What Can Be Done About Mouth Wrinkles
Preventing premature mouth/eye wrinkles means not smoking, avoiding sun exposure and tanning beds and using a moisturizer and sunscreen every day. Menopausal women can explore hormone replacement therapy with their physician as a way to relieve symptoms of menopause and maintain skin elasticity necessary in delaying the appearance of wrinkles.
When damage has already been done to the skin due to smoking or aging, non-invasive cosmetic procedures offered by Mayoral Dermatology can eliminate mouth wrinkles, “crow’s feet” and bags under the eyes without the pain and downtime associated with surgical cosmetic procedures.
Several excellent, injectable dermal fillers such as Botox, Dysport, Restylane and Radiesse can smooth wrinkles and revitalize dry, tired-looking skin after one session with a Mayoral Dermatology specialist. Injectable dermal fillers replenish lost concentrations of collagen and restore the structural integrity of skin that is no longer firm enough to prevent collapsing into folds and wrinkles. By introducing a dermal filler into areas around the mouth and eyes, wrinkles are “plumped” and smoothed to give your skin a refreshingly youthful appearance while eliminating the unsightly “puckered” appearance of a severely wrinkled mouth.