Big lips cause functional problems like drooling and detract from physical attractiveness. There are various techniques that help to enhance function and appearance, and thereby the quality of the person's life. Some cosmetic application techniques and facial exercises may help, but surgery provides a more effective, permanent solution.
Published: January 27, 2021
Last updated: January 27, 2021
Having big lips is a blessing for some and a curse for others. Pouty, plump lips are generally favored as beauty markers and are desired by both sexes in nearly all cultures. However, overly-large lips can detract from the physical appearance, and cause oral function problems in some people.
Some people with thin lips wish to increase the volume of their lips to enhance the balance of their faces. Fortunately, there are surgical and nonsurgical procedures and techniques to create fuller lips. Of course, for many, this has the added benefit of increasing self-image, self-confidence, and time spent socializing with others.
Conversely, some people with big lips want to reduce volume because their mouths dominate the appearance of their faces, making their other physical features less noticeable. Others have medical needs for lip reduction, as in cases of improper mouth sealing because of an overly-large upper lip, bottom lip, or both.
This article looks at the most popular lip treatment options for people who feel their lips are too large, either genetically or because of the filler used. Both surgical and non-surgical options will be discussed.
Treatment for Big Lips
Large beautiful lips bring a striking and pleasing balance to the face. However, when the lips are too large, various functional challenges can result, including labial incontinence, problems eating and drinking, speech impediments, and/or drooling.
The technical term for overly-large lips is “macrocheilia”. When large lips are caused by dentofacial deformity, the condition is called pseudomacrochelia.
A dentofacial deformity if an imbalance of the position, size, shape, or orientation of the bones that comprise the upper and lower jaws.
The primary cause of true macrocheilia is dentofacial deformity (pseudomacrocheilia) in the jaw and cheek regions, not the genetic formation of the lips per se.
The importance of ruling out dentofacial deformities as contributing factors to macrocheilia cannot be overstressed. If dentofacial abnormalities are not recognized, lip reduction may worsen the cosmetic deformity by overly reducing lip size and exposing the dentofacial deformity.
That is one reason why it is important to work with a plastic surgeon who understands the nuances between true macrocheilia and pseudomacrochelia when seeking advice about large lip reduction.
Macrocheilia can also result from:
- Hemangiomas (extra blood vessels that cause red nodules under the skin)
- Hypertrophy in the salivary or other glands
- Generalized tissue thickening in the body
- Inflammation or infection
- Physical trauma
There are few medical options for correcting big lips. Medscape reports, “Medical therapy has limited usefulness in treating prominent lips but can help alleviate the underlying cause or associated anomalies. Steroid therapy, antibiotics, salazosulfapyridine, and radiation have shown limited success.”
However, there are surgical options that are effective for well-suited candidates. The technical term for a lip reduction procedure is “cheiloplasty”.
Lip Reduction Lip reduction cheiloplasty is a surgical procedure that removes some of the tissue that the lips contain. It is most often performed selectively at the patient’s request because of aesthetic concerns.
However, in many cases, this surgery works to restore proper labial function in those whose lips do not form a tight seal when closed, which can cause poor speech, drooling, and other unwanted challenges.
Some of the benefits associated with full lip reduction surgery are:
● Corrects genetic labial deformities ● No visible scarring on the outside of the mouth ● Very little downtime needed after the procedure ● Produces permanent results in one treatment for most patients ● Brings balance to the overall face by correcting the lower and upper lips ● Is a quick outpatient procedure that does not usually require general anesthesia
Dissolving Lip Fillers
Some people with thin lips dream of having voluptuous smiles like Kim Kardashian and Angelina Jolie. There are various procedures used to add volume and fullness to the mouth. Some of the most popular today are:
Injecting the lips with a synthetic dermal filler is also a popular option for adding volume to diminutive lips. Some of the most common lip filler substances include Voluma®, Juvederm®, Restylane®, and Collagen.
Some people who have the fillers placed in their lips are unsatisfied with the results, or wish to reverse them after time, and want to have the fillers removed.
Recently, Kylie Jenner sparked social media news in the New York and European beauty industries when she announced that she had her lip fillers removed. However, it is more a case of “dissolving” rather than “removing”.
Most of the common lip injection fillers used today are synthetic compounds with a hyaluronic acid base. Hyaluronic acid is known for various benefits including increasing skin health, speeding up wound healing, relieving joint pain, and soothing acid reflux.
While hyaluronic acid-based lip injections typically dissolve on their own within 6-12 months, some people want to reverse their effects sooner. A doctor can inject hyaluronidase enzymes to speed up the breakdown of the fillers, returning the lips to their previous state within 3-4 days.
Home Remedies for Big Lips: Makeup, and Exercises
For those who want to reduce the size of the lips without surgery, makeup can be used to create a temporary illusion of smaller lips. Others perform certain facial exercises that might help to reduce the fat volume of the lips.
Makeup Tricks for Reducing Big Lips Some of the tips used by professional makeup artists for creating better-proportioned lips:
- Applying foundation used on the face over the border of the lips to alter the natural shape
- Highlight the eyes, nose, and other features to draw attention away from the lips
- Choose soft, light lipstick colors to better blend the lips with the surrounding skin
- Avoid using dark-colored lip liners that pronounce the shape of the mouth
- Avoid using lip gloss as it adds the appearance of more volume
Facial Exercises for Making Large Lips Look Smaller Many men and women turn to facial yoga exercises to help to enhance the appearance of large lips by toning the muscles that control the lips, reducing the fat volume inside the lips, stimulating collagen production in the lips and face, and generally helping to keep the facial muscles and skin in a healthier state.
These exercises involve moving and stretching the lips and face to encourage muscle toning. Some examples include:
- Fill your lungs and mouth with as much air as possible, and then, inflate your cheeks outward and hold your breath for 30 seconds or as long as you can.
- Close the lips tightly, and then, fill one side of the mouth with air and hold it there for 30 seconds. Then, switch the air to the other side of the mouth and repeat the process.
- Stretch your lips out tightly, exposing the teeth. Hold the position for 30 seconds while breathing through the nose.
Using makeup tricks and training your facial muscles to thin out big lips can be somewhat helpful, but doesn’t do a lot for those with lips that are very large or that cause functional problems like drooling. Severely large lips may likely require plastic surgery to correct.
Lips that are too prominent can take away attention from the rest of the face. Further, excessively big lips can cause problems with oral function - including keeping the mouth closed while chewing, pronouncing certain words correctly, and unintentional drooling. The good news is that various corrective procedures and techniques can help.
Many women can make their lips appear smaller than they are by applying makeup in certain ways. Some people also perform facial exercises to help thin out the fat stores in their lips and faces to create a thinner-lipped appearance. However, the results from these home remedies are normally marginal at best. Further, in the case of makeup, nothing is done to permanently correct the true appearance of the lips.
For those who have overly large lips that cause them to be continuously concerned about their appearance, various plastic surgery procedures might be helpful. However, not all people are equally suited for these operations. It’s always best to discuss your options for enhancing the appearance of your lips and face with a plastic surgeon or other doctors that understand facial aesthetics.
To learn more about our content creation practices, visit our Editorial Process page.
AEDIT uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
- Johnston, MC, Millicovsky G. “Normal and Abnormal Development of the Lip and Palate.” Clin Plast Surg. 1985 Oct;12(4):521-32.; 1985-10-01
- Luthra, A. “Shaping Lips with Fillers.” J Cutan Aesthet Surg. v.8(3); Jul-Sep 2015.; 2015-07-01
- Maloney, BP. “Cosmetic Surgery of the Lips.” Facial Plast Surg, vol. 12, no. 3, 1996, pp. 265–278.
- Paul K Holden, Ahmed S Sufyan, Stephen W Perkins Long-term analysis of surgical correction of the senile upper lip pubmed.gov; 2011-09-01
- Tonnard, PL, et al. “Aging of the Upper Lip: Part II. Evidence-Based Rejuvenation of the Upper Lip-A Review of 500 Consecutive Cases.” Plast Reconstr Surg. , 14 May 2019, pp. 1333–1342.; 2019-05-14
- Spiegel, J H, and O L Spiegel. “Lip Lifting: Not Just Fullness-Everything You Need to Know about Lifting and Creating Youthful, Beautiful Lips.” Facial Plastic Surg. , 3 Apr. 2019, pp. 129–133.; 2019-04-03