As you progress through menopause and into the menopausal years, you may notice that your lips seem thinner, drier and more neutral-toned.
Both the upper and lower lips lose volume so they appear longer, slimmer and flatter, and tiny wrinkles form around the lips that can make lipstick bleed.
The distance from the bottom of the nose to the top of the upper lip lengthens, and the corners of the lips begin to turn down-ward. You may notice that your lips feel dry and may lose their pinkish tone.
The shape and structure of the facial region around the lip changes as well. As the cheek structure sinks, naso-labial folds form in the skin around the mouth, creating a line from the outer edge of each nostril down to the outer edge of the mouth. The lower jaw may become more square, and the skin may also appear looser.
Why does this happen?
Lips change shape and colour due to changes in skin and underlying structures.
The outermost layer of skin on the lips, the epidermis is thin and actually contains no pigment or colour. Rather, lips get their pink hue from the many fine blood vessels just below the surface. The entire circulatory system is lined with oestrogen receptors, and oestrogen deficiency in perimenopause causes up to a 40 percent drop in the skin’s blood flow throughout the body.
The loss of skin’s rosy undertones is most noticeable in the cheeks and lips.
The middle layer of skin is called the dermis. It contains collagen and elastin, which are responsible for lip’s firmness and elasticity. These proteins are created by special cells in the dermis layer called fibroblasts, which require adequate oestrogen to function properly. As oestrogen levels decrease, the collagen and elastin in lips break down. without the ability to repair these strength-giving proteins, the skin becomes thinner and more fragile.
The bottom layer of the skin is the hypodermis, which is essentially fat. These subcutaneous fat pads give lips, cheeks and the face their soft, rounded shape. Without adequate oestrogen, fat stores throughout the body break down and reform in the abdominal region. This fat redistribution affects all the fat pads beneath the skin, including the tiny fat pads in the lips.
Whilst it’s impossible to stop this happening, the good news is that things can be done to slow the rate of degeneration. Look out for our upcoming blog article on ten ways to prevent lip loss.
Deborah Forsythe – The Menopause Consultant