Microneedling Lips - All the Info & Why It’s Risky
Microneedling lips should help them become naturally plump and more youthful-looking. But the results are only temporary, and the process is painful. So is it worth it?
One of the first areas that start showing signs of aging is our lips. As we age, the collagen production is gradually reduced, resulting in thinner, sort of withered-looking lips with prominent fine lines around them.
So in theory, if microneedling is so great for encouraging collagen production and plumping up the skin, wouldn’t it be just as beneficial in treating the lips as well?
Let’s explain how the two differ, what happens when you do microneedling on lips, and why it’s not something that’s recommended.
Click on the link to go directly to a specific step:
How Are Lips Different From the Rest of the Skin?
Before considering microneedling lips, you need to understand why they must be treated a bit differently from the rest of the face skin.
There are 3 main differences:
- The protective top layer of the skin of the lips is much thinner.
- The lips don’t have sebaceous glands, which are the main moisture producer that secretes oil, nourishing the skin.
- Lips have much more blood vessels (which is what gives them the pinkish color as the vessels show through the thin skin) and glands than the rest of the skin.
So, since the lips have more blood vessels and glands than the rest of the skin, the tissue produces less collagen. Meaning that, even if collagen production is boosted externally, the buildup won’t be as significant as it is in the facial skin.
The results of microneedling on lips are, ultimately, only temporary.
You can perform this procedure on the areas around the lips (perioral area), just not the actual lips. This will target the lip lines which are a classic sign of aging. This is safe and worth doing.
A Note on Lip Anatomy
Pay attention to the vermillion border, the transition where the lip tissue meets facial skin. The skin of the lips extends slightly out of the pink part. The border between the skin of the lips and facial skin is the point where pores and hairs are present.
How to Do Microneedling on Lips
Despite warnings against microneedling lips, many are still loyal to this procedure and claim to see its benefits. There are several ways microneedling lips can be done, both at home and at a salon.
Here are the 2 techniques for microneedling lips, plus a product recommendation to pair with the treatment.
Dermarolling lips used to be done with a regular dermaroller – a tool with hundreds of tiny needles on a wheel that is then rolled on the skin.
Nowadays, there are tools specifically designed for the shape of lips. Silicone bumpers are placed on each side of the tiny needle wheel, so there is some extra protection. They take into account that the skin is thinner so they are made with shorter needles/pins.
Professionals prefer using dermapens, more advanced tools, so it’s not likely you’ll come across a skin expert using a dermaroller.
Dermapen for Lips
Using a dermapen for lips is much more suitable compared to dermarolling lips. This pen-shaped tool has a cluster of needles on top whose length is adjustable – great for shortening the needle length around sensitive areas (including the lips).
But dermapen for lips is most commonly used for a treatment that goes under a different name: BB glow for lips.
This treatment is essentially a combination of microneedling and a lip tattoo. The main difference is that the color isn’t inserted with a tattoo machine but via dermapen, whose needles are a bit thicker.
And it doesn’t use pigment per se, but a tinted serum that seeps into the tiny cuts made with micro or nanoneedling.
Microneedling Lips with Hyaluronic Acid
Opening up channels allows products applied on top to be more effective. This means that post-microneedling is the best time to apply serums with ingredients that hydrate and further stimulate collagen production.
Which is what hyaluronic acid does! Microneedling lips with hyaluronic acid can make lips softer and smoother, and all indications of dryness, cracks, and irritation are greatly diminished.
This ingredient draws moisture into the skin cells and seals it in, plus it’s naturally present in the skin so there’s no risk of allergies or irritation (as long as the formula is high-quality and pure).
Microneedling Lips Benefits
Although they might not last more than a few days, some people claim the benefits of microneedling lips are very much worth it. These are the ones they emphasize:
Boosted Collagen Production
Although insignificant in comparison to microneedling facial and body skin, some additional collagen production will still be stimulated by the tiny needles.
Creating micro-wounds on your lips signals them to start rebuilding the damaged skin. White blood cells start flooding the injured area and new, collagen-dense(r) skin tissue emerges, although the boost is minor.
The most noticeable and the most sought-after benefit is getting instantly plumper lips, due to the boost in the blood flow to the area.
This is actually what popularized microneedling on lips in the first place. Although temporary, people really seem to like that the plumpness comes naturally, without having to rely on more permanent (and much more expensive) procedures like lip fillers.
Image source: Instagram @stefaniehofmannbeauty
The needles create tiny channels through which the product can enter.
This allows the product to penetrate deeper and work better. So using a moisturizing or hydrating product helps you alleviate the dryness and cracked, dull lips. Microneedling lips with hyaluronic acid seems to be a fan-favorite.
Other reported microneedling lips benefits include:
- No downtime
- Easily done at home by yourself
- Over time, it’s claimed to help smooth out lip creases.
But these benefits have to be weighted against the risks.
Potential Complications of Microneedling Your Lips
Microneedling regular skin is one of the most widely recommended and beloved skincare treatments out there. Yet, there are still several ways it can go wrong.
Microneedling lips, on the other hand, isn’t very favorable among dermatologists in the first place. Here are a few reasons why:
Risk of Infection
The danger of infection exists even with facial and body microneedling. When the skin is compromised, it’s more susceptible to external contamination and subsequent infection.
Because the mouth is full of bacteria naturally present in the saliva, this risk is increased when microneedling lips. Saliva can get onto the tool and be spread across the entire treated region.
Speaking of cross-contamination, using makeup right after microneedling is also a big no-no!
Not only can the ingredients in your lip products irritate the freshly compromised skin, but there’s high likelihood that your products are already contaminated from previous use with bacteria microneedled tissue can’t handle as well as undamaged tissue can.
Cold Sore Flareup
If you are prone to cold sores, microneeling lips will most likely trigger a flare-up. Plus, if the tool gets contaminated it can spread the cold sores onto the entire microneedled area and cause serious downtime.
Even if you’ve never had a cold sore before, microneedling on lips can trigger one.
Image source: Freepik
Swelling and Pain
Your lips are full of nerve endings, making them one of the most sensitive parts of your body. Due to this, microneedling on lips can be much more uncomfortable than on other areas.
Microneedling lips cause post-inflammatory swelling, and it can take 2-3 days for your lips to calm down a bit and after another 2-3 days the lips will go back to their normal size. During the recovery, lips can look distorted.
Sometimes, there’s even some bruising and bleeding.
On top of that, keep in mind that improvements made by this procedure are only temporary, so it’s questionable whether it’s worth all the pain.
If you’re looking for plumper, hydrated lips, microneedling might not be the best treatment for that. But there are plenty of other ways to get the desired results.
A more temporary solution can be using lip products such as scrubs, collagen lip masks, or lip plumpers. But if you are seeking a more long-term fix, look into other treatments.
For example, a lip tattoo, better known as PMU lip blushing. A permanent cosmetic tattoo can give an illusion of fuller-looking lips. A lip tattoo is very similar to the BB glow lips we mentioned earlier but done with a thinner needle and PMU pigment.
Explore various styles of lip tattoo and see which you like best.
If you’re looking for 3D fullness, perhaps consider lip fillers. Hyaluronic acid injections like Juvederm, Volbella, and Restylane Silk are all safe, FDA-approved treatments. There are even permanent fixes with cosmetic surgery procedures such as lip lifts.
Image source: Instagram @thecosmetictattoostudio
Microneedling Lips – Main Takeaways
Despite having many benefits for other skin areas, microneedling lips might not be the best idea. The pain, risks, and side effects are outweighing the benefits, seeing as any improvement is only temporary.
If you are seeking plumper lips, there are other treatments that provide more permanent results.