Lip Microdermabrasion – Is the Rising Trend Doing More Harm than Good?

By Emily M.| Last updated on January 31, 2023
lip microdermabrasion
⏱️ 6 min read

As we age, our skin starts to produce less collagen and natural oils so our lips become thinner and visibly more lined. And on top of that, lips are particularly prone to dryness which can make them seem less plump and even less youthful.

Aged lips and smile lines are one of the many concerns clients try to solve with skincare treatments, thinking that whatever works for facial skin will work on your lips as well, right? Well, the explanation is a bit more complicated… Let’s get into it.

But First, A Quick Recap of the Microdermabrasion Procedure

Microdermabrasion is a skin resurfacing treatment that is done with a special handpiece that consists of a gritty-surfaced rotary ring and a vacuum in the middle of the ring.

This tool simultaneously scrapes off the dead skin and sucks it up, extracting the oils and debris along with it.

The dragging of the rough tip against the skin’s surface helps encourage the body to re-heal and create new, healthy skin to replace the older skin layer that was just removed.

So the treatment is really beneficial for a number of different skin conditions such as hyperpigmentation, enlarged and clogged pores, signs of aging, and more.

You can find a more in-depth explanation microdermabrasion here.

microdermabrasion procedure
Image source: Freepik

So, Can Microdermabrasion Be Done on the Lips?

Microdermabrasion on the face can be used as an anti-aging treatment. So this procedure can, in theory, treat lips that may be heavily wrinkled or discolored.

However, opinions on whether these areas should be treated this way are mixed. After all the procedure entails literally buffing the skin with a fast-rotating dermabrasion tool.

The good news is that the treatment’s intensity is tailored to the desired outcome and the level of resurfacing needed. But this technique is intended for facial and body skin, which poses the question of Is it too much for delicate lip skin?

What Are the Benefits of Lip Microdermabrasion?

There are many claims that point out the effectiveness of this treatment in treating aged and dull lips. Here are some of the uses of lip microdermabrasion:

Microdermabrasion for Lip Smoothing

By gradually sanding off your lips’ rough, thick, damaged skin and allowing the new one to take its place, your lips become much smoother and softer to the touch.

Additionally, the micro-wounds created during the procedure act as little entryways through which the product can enter. This enables the product to penetrate deeper into the skin and work better, helping you further prevent dryness and cracked lips.

Microdermabrasion for Lip Plumping

By creating micro-wounds on your lips and signaling your body to start rebuilding the damaged skin, this treatment can actually provide some additional lip plumping. Due to the boost in blood flow to the area, your lips will look pinker and juicier.

Microdermabrasion for Dark Lips

Microdermabrasion scrubs off dead skin cells and reveals the skin that lays underneath. This helps even out the color as the dead skin tends to look paler or even grayish. Plus, as already mentioned, it also encourages blood flow to the surface of the lips, making the color somewhat brighter and fresher.

Microdermabrasion for Perioral Area

Targeting the perioral area of your face – aka the area surrounding your mouth (upper lip area under the nose, the nasolabial folds, the corners of the mouth, and all the skin surrounding the lips) – is actually not controversial at all.

Microdermabrasion is generally considered really beneficial for the perioral area since it stimulates collagen production and results in a reduction of fine lines and wrinkles around the lips.

The collagen fills out shallow wrinkle crevices so the fine lines get softened and blemishes like age spots or sun damage are lessened or even completely erased when the old skin is continuously removed.

Microdermabrasion for Lip Lines

Since it removes the outermost layer of the skin, it also diminishes dead skin cells and debris that makes your skin appear dull and ages you. And while it can help make you look younger, you need to be realistic about what results it can achieve.

After all, microdermabrasion is a light treatment, meaning it will help eliminate fine lines but won’t make a huge difference in filling out deep wrinkles. To achieve noticeable results, you will need to invest in a more abrasive treatment like dermabrasion.

Dermabrasion is much more intense and requires some serious downtime and a strict aftercare regimen. But the results are also a lot more dramatic.

If you wish to learn more about the risks and benefits of dermabrasion, check out our Ultimate Guide to Dermabrasion.

Potential Complications of Lip Microdermabrasion

Although it does make your lips look better, keep in mind that this is a risky procedure. The temporary results carry a lot of potential side effects.

Here are some reasons why lip microdermabrasion might not be the best solution for you:

Lip Sensitivity

The skin covering our lips and the skin covering the rest of our face are not composed of the same tissue.

The protective outermost layer of the lips’ skin is considerably thinner. Lips also have more glands and blood vessels – hence the pinkish color. Because of the different composure of the tissue, less collagen is produced.

This means that even if collagen production is increased on the outside, the buildup won’t be as noticeable as it is in the facial skin. Making the results short-lived, and arguably, just not worth it.

Excessive Skin Damage

When the skin’s health is endangered, the body’s natural defense system kicks in to protect it – which is something this procedure  purposely tries to trigger.

However, there is a limit that shouldn’t be crossed. Once the protective barrier is compromised to the point where your health is in danger, your body will do anything to protect it.

And since your lips are full of nerve endings – which makes them one of the most sensitive parts of your body – it might have very painful consequences.

Extreme Swelling

Having plump lips is desirable – having swollen lips is not.

Removing the protective skin layer will result in inflammation as that is the body’s immune system’s response. Post-inflammatory swelling can take a couple of days to calm down, after which your lips will go back to their natural size.

But depending on the intensity of the treatment the swelling can become tremendous and painful and your lips can end up looking distorted rather than plump.

Flare Up of Cold Sores

If you are prone to cold sores, this treatment will likely trigger a flare-up. And even if you’ve never had cold sores before, there’s a risk of one still developing.

So be cautious if you have the human papillomavirus, impetigo, shingles, or any other autoimmune problem.

cold sores as a risk of lip microdermabrasion
Image source: Freepik

Risk of Infection

Even “regular” microdermabrasion can lead to an infection, given that device tends to spread the bacteria from one part of the skin onto another.

And since the mouth is full of bacteria – which inevitably ends up on the lips as well – lip microdermabrasion has an even higher chance of causing an infection.

The Aftercare Is Hard to Follow

Speaking of infections and cross-contamination, let’s talk about aftercare. Many clients don’t realize the importance of proper aftercare and don’t follow the instructions as strictly as they should.

When the skin is compromised, it’s more susceptible to external contamination and subsequent infection from either food and drink, to lip products.

The ingredients can seriously irritate your compromised skin. And even worse – they are covered in bacteria from previously using it!

Safer Alternatives to Lip Microdermabrasion

Lip microdermabrasion’s effects are temporary anyway, so why not look into some other, safer, solutions? There are plenty of ways to achieve plumper, younger-looking lips.

If you’re concerned with lip thinness, it might be best to look into alternative procedures like lip fillers. Some people also opt for procedures like permanent lip blushing which will give the illusion of slightly plumper lips and the color will make them look more lively and youthful.

But when it comes to quick fixes you can try using lip products like scrubs, collagen lip masks, or lip plumpers.

So here are our product recommendations for at-home lip smoothing:

So, Is the Lip Microdermabrasion Treatment Worth It?

Similarly to microneedling lips, lip dermabrasion is a very controversial treatment.

Let’s put it this way: Does it work for the skin around your lips? Yes, and very efficiently. Does it work for the skin on your lips? The opinions are very divided. Some people swear by its results, while others state that it should be avoided.

If you do decide to get it done, remember to book an appointment with an experienced and licensed professional to minimize the risk of possible side effects. Good luck with your lip smoothing agenda!

Cover image source: Freepik

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