Can the lips be augmented without dermal filler injections? According to Carlos Wambier, M.D., Ph.D, the answer is a resounding “yes.” And we’re not talking about Kylie’s infamous glass challenge. When reviewing results over time of full-face deep chemical peels that included the lips, dermatologists discovered that the lip tissues weren’t just rejuvenated, they were more defined and voluminous.1
Peeling offers anti-aging benefits that lip injections do not. “There are epidermal changes that take place [after peeling]. You make the lips look younger,” says Dr. Wambier, Department of Dermatology, Yale University School of Medicine. Not to mention, peeling the lips also stimulates collagen production and enhances lip definition, he says. Notably, however, peeling compared with injectable fillers doesn’t offer the same amount of control of the size and shape of the augmented lips.
Dr. Wambier presented on the topic of peeling the lips at the Peeling Around the World educational session that preceded the AAD Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. earlier this year. The session was hosted by the International Peeling Society.
Dr. Wambier’s presentation follows up research published last year in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD).1 In the article, Wambier et al. offer a perspective on the phenol-croton oil chemical peel compared with HA fillers, today’s standard for lip augmentation. But why simply fill wrinkled, photodamaged lips when you could fully rejuvenate and naturally augment them?
Simply injecting the lips is like filling an old wrinkled pillow, says Dr. Wambier. In keeping with analogy, one could say that the peeling procedure delivers pillow fluffing service along with a fresh new pillowcase.
You could argue that peeling the lips is the ultimate way to rejuvenate and enhance their natural shape.
“The degree of lip augmentation achieved depends mainly on the individual size of the lips and croton oil concentration,” write the authors. Other lip anomalies, including actinic cheilitis and actinic dysplasia, can also be treated with the phenol-croton oil peel.
While some may use the classic Baker-Gordon phenol-croton oil peel with harshly stripping the skin of wrinkles and pigmentation, the formulas can be — and currently are — modified, using lower concentrations (with Hetter's formulas) to improve the safety profile while also delivering more natural-looking results.2
In Brazil, says Dr. Wambier, physicians classify chemical applications over the skin into two different categories: It's “chemical cauterization” when used to destroy something, like actinic cheilitis, and it’s “chemical peel” for cosmetic applications.
“There are three things the peel does,” explains Dr. Wambier.
Dr. Wambier has been an advisor for Allergan and Young Pharmaceuticals, a speaker for Galderma and Cynosure, and an investigator for Pfizer, Concert and Eli-Lilly.
- Wambier CG, Neitzke IC, Lee KC, et al. Augmentation and eversion of lips without injections: The lip peel. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2019;80(5):e119-e120.
- Wambier CG, Lee KC, Soon SL, et al. Advanced chemical peels: Phenol-croton oil peel. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2019;81(2):327-336.
- Wambier CG, Lee KC, Bertolini TM, Rullan PP, Beltrame FL. Comment on "Anti-aging effects of ingenol mebutate for patients with actinic keratosis" and phenol-croton oil peelings. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2019;80(6):e185-e186.
- Bertolini TM. Is the phenol-croton oil peel safe? Plast Reconstr Surg. 2002;110(2):715-7.