Lip Lift

The minimally invasive surgical procedure called a lip lift helps patients gain the appearance of fuller, more youthful lips via cosmetic surgery that changes the shape of the upper or lower lip by moving the lips to a favorable new position. Greater "tooth show" when smiling becomes apparent after a lip lift cosmetic procedure.

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Summary

During a lip lift procedure, a plastic surgeon creates a small incision in the lip area or under the nose and cuts off excess skin in order to lift and enhance the appearance of the lips, cupid's bow or other sagging and misshapen areas of the mouth. The upper teeth can then be seen more readily when the patient smiles after an upper lip lift procedure prevents drooping lips from hiding the teeth.

Lip Lift vs. Lip Fillers

Lip lift surgery is an actual outpatient procedure that includes a plastic surgeon making incisions in the lip area to improve the shape, position and fullness of the lips. A lip lift is usually received under local anesthesia, because general anesthesia is many times not required for the minimal amount of pain associated with this type of cosmetic surgery.

Although millions of members of the public have received or heard of soft-tissue dermal lip filler injections, like when hyaluronic acid in the form of Juvederm or Restylane is used to plump up a person's pout, not as many have necessarily learned about lip enhancement via surgery. Patients who want longer lasting results than injectable fillers, which are minimally invasive and temporary, are turning to lip lift surgery as a permanent option.

According to the 2017 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there were 29,797 lip augmentation procedures in 2017, not involving injectable fillers. That means the cosmetic procedure is up 5% from the 28,430 lip lift surgery procedures undergone in 2016, and has increased a tremendous 60% from the 18,589 procedures procured in 2000. Lip reduction procedures, on the other hand, decreased to 1,065 surgeries done in 2017, down 70% from the 3,547 lip reductions that were received in 2016.

Lip lifts may benefit certain patients more than lip fillers, because the individuals may not react well to filler substances - or represent those participants who wish to avoid the "duck lips" look that can accompany incorrectly filled lips. With older patients, the lips tend to decrease in volume and get longer in length with age. But even younger patients can take advantage of a procedure that lifts the upper lip and provides a better "tooth show," especially for people whose upper teeth are rarely on display, even when smiling.

Lip Lift Techniques

A variety of modern lip lift techniques have provided patients with awesome lip lift results, unlike procedures in the past, which used to focus on incisions strictly made across the vermillion lip border of the lips, which is the top outline of the lips where lip liner is often drawn. Such older surgery techniques provided subpar results, because they made the lip border harder to distinguish, and required that the patients wear makeup more often in order to provide a defined lip edge.

Nowadays, improved modifications on the following techniques have helped to create gorgeous outcomes for lip lift recipients. There are several different types of lip lifts, as explained below.

#1: The Direct Vermillion or Gullwing Lip Lift

As seen in photos of the so-dubbed vermillion advancement lip lift, or "gull-wing lip lift," an area of excess skin in the shape of a seagull in flight is removed from the rim of the upper lip and above. That's where the "white roll" or "white lip" meets the colorful portion of the lips. People who have longer white lip segments can have them reduced, in order to create greater symmetry between the upper and lower lip, while placing the "red lip" portion in an optimal position.

The gull-wing lip lift requires an incision on the edge of the upper lip, however, scars at the vermillion border might be harder to hide without cosmetics. Patients must have enough excess skin in the area for the lift to be effective, and understand that their upper lip will be enlarged permanently, with a fine scar on the top edge.

#2: The Subnasal "Bullhorn" Lip Lift

Similar to its name, the bullhorn subnasal lip lift is a procedure that removes excess skin from beneath the nostrils in the shape of a bull's horns. A small incision made below the nose can help those who have long upper lips - wherein the non-colorful part of the lips beneath the nose is very lengthy - experience lifted upper lips via a subnasal lip lift that removes excess skin.

The underlying skin is lifted and anchored to tissue atop the bones that reside beneath the nose, which causes the colorful portion of the lip to roll outward and creates a pouty lip. It can also help give similar lip lift results whereby the upper teeth are more visible.

#3: The Modified Upper Lip Lift

The modified upper lip lift is similar to the subnasal lip lift, however, instead of strictly removing excess skin beneath the nose, the modified version places the incisions deeper inside the nose's mucosa. Such a scar that travels into the nose means that it does not require the continuous incision of a bullhorn upper lip lift.

This specific form of lip lift surgery was invented by Dr. Ben Talei of the Beverly Hills Center for Plastic & Laser Surgery. The updated procedure reduces the risk of the nostrils getting wider as the incisions are positioned in the natural crease underneath the nose.

As reported by the Oxford University Press in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, the endonasal flaps being elevated is a benefit that contributes to less scar movement and minor loss of lift. The incision closure in non-visible portions doesn't place as much tension on the closure and helps healing. Additionally, they are the same incision access points that can be used for some rhinoplasty procedures.

The Aesthetic Surgery Journal reports that at least one risk of this form of lip lift surgery includes disruption of the nasal sill, which is located at the base of the nose. Such side effects can be reduced by meticulous performance of the surgery by an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon who is an expert in the practice. The modified upper lip lift can provide the same facial rejuvenation perks of the other forms of the procedure, offering more visibility of the teeth, as well as the pink part of the lip.

#4: The Corner Lip Lift

A corner lip lift helps people whose corner edges of their lips curve downward, giving them a look of sadness or a stern expression. According to Dr. Andrew Jacono, tiny portions of excess skin in the shape of triangles are removed from each outward corner of the mouth. The surgical procedure causes the lip corners to lift upward and take on the appearance of youthful lips instead of a frowning expression with droopy outer corners.

The corner lip surgery improves the look of "drool groves," which are angular lines that can run downward from the corners of the mouth toward the jawline. The wedges of skin that are removed from the oral commissures, which are the mouth corners, will leave incisions on the outward vermillion border of the lips in each corner.

Corner lip lifts are especially recommended for younger patients who haven't yet experienced extreme sagging in the corners of their mouths, and should be determined on a case-by-case basis for older patients to lift the corners of their mouths.

#5: The Italian Lip Lift

An Italian lip lift is similar to a bullhorn lip lift, except the incisions appear as two smaller crescent shapes below the nostrils. Whereas the bullhorn lift is accompanied by a longer incision, the Italian lip lift has two separate spaces where excess skin is removed. The technique allows individuals who want fewer visible scars and a subtle lip lift to enjoy both results.

The Italian lip lift produces a lift that is more pronounced on the peaks of the lips and the areas beneath the nostrils.

Lip Lift Cost

The variations in the cost of a lip lift procedure can swing widely, since there are several different ways of performing the surgery. An upper lip lift may cost between $1,000 and $3,000, typically. However, based on the kind of lip enhancement surgery, and whether or not it is combined with other surgical procedures, the expenses can vary quite a bit.

For instance, nearly 600 RealSelf members have listed the costs of their lip lift procedures at anywhere from $100 to $7,000. However, the average cost of a lip lift is listed as $3,275. Factors such as the skill level and location of the surgeon play a big part in the cost. Ricardo L. Rodriguez, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon based in Baltimore, lists three different prices for lip lift procedures performed using local anesthesia. An upper lip lift has a cost of $3,200, while a corner lip lift has a price of $2,800. Lastly, Dr. Rodriguez lists the cost of an upper lip lift with a corner lip lift at $4,950.

Dr. Rolando Morales, a Houston-based plastic surgeon, lists the costs of lip lift procedures as ranging from $2,000 to $5,000. Dr. Morales notes that if the lip lift includes additional augmentation techniques, such as the insertion of a silicone lip implant, the surgery fee will cost more.

The lip lift procedures that are not facial plastic surgeries to correct a birth defect or reconstructive surgery performed in the wake of an injury will likely be considered cosmetic and not covered by insurance companies. Verify with your plastic surgeon's office all means of financing that are available to help with the expense of your surgery.

Recovery From a Lip Lift

Directly following your lip lift surgery, there might be a slightly uncomfortable feeling as the mouth swells and feels tight. After a few days or one week, the swelling should dissipate sharply, as almost all swelling should go away within four weeks. When recovering from a lip lift procedure, it helps to keep these tips in mind:

  • You will likely take antiviral medicine and antibiotics to prevent infections caused by viruses and bacteria
  • Any non-dissolvable stitches should be removed after approximately 5 to 7 days
  • Your surgeon may provide you with an ointment or recommend a salve to apply to the incision site to help promote healing and improve the appearance of any scars
  • Swelling and inflammatory reactions are a natural part of the wounds healing, therefore lip lifts can affect the appearance of the nose and nostrils, making them initially appear larger
  • The surgical area may appear red or bruised
  • Wait at least six weeks to see the final results of your lip lift procedure
  • Control swelling in the first few days after surgery by using ice packs on your upper lip region
  • Use pain medication prescribed or recommended by your doctor
  • Expect possible wound eversion, with incisions appearing like a raised ridge.

Before and After Lip Lift Surgery

Before undergoing lip lift surgery, recommendations such as the following should be adhered to:

  • Refrain from eating and drinking a minimum of six hours prior to surgery
  • Do not smoke for four weeks prior to your lip lift, and four weeks afterward, because smoking can have a negative effect upon skin healing due to decreasing blood flow
  • Refrain from drinking alcohol 48 hours prior to the surgery, since it can have a negative impact on anesthesia
  • Do not ingest aspirin or medications that act as blood thinners for 14 days prior to surgery

In the wake of your lip surgery, it is essential to treat your newly altered mouth with care in order to allow it to heal. Some recommendations to help your surgical site heal properly after surgery include the following:

  • Spend the day after your surgery resting and remaining quiet, not resuming your normal activities until 24 hours post-surgery
  • Refrain from exercise for 7 to 14 days as your lip area heals
  • Ingest soft foods that do not require a lot of chewing, and avoid hot liquids as well as salty foods for 48 hours post-surgery
  • Do not sleep on your face, but instead rest with your head elevated and on your back
  • Avoid strenuous activities, do not lift heavy items, and don’t bend over or strain yourself for at least 72 to 96 hours after surgery
  • Do not open your mouth too wide in order to keep your sutures intact
  • Carefully brush your teeth with a small toothbrush designed for a child
  • Rinse your mouth following each meal and clean the incisions with diluted hydrogen peroxide
  • Consume Arnica and Vitamin C two weeks prior to and after surgery to help prevent bruising and promote healing
  • Moisturize the lips with Vaseline or Carmex and similar lip balms up to three weeks or more after surgery

Who are the Ideal Candidates for Lip Lift Surgery?

The lip lift procedure is not simply a surgical procedure reserved for older patients who have discovered their lips lose their luster and positioning over a period of years. On the contrary, a number of people across a wide expanse of ages seek lip lift surgery to enhance their pouts and to project broader smiles by making their upper teeth more prominent. Folks in their 20s and beyond consider obtaining lip lifts to correct issues with their mouths.

The ideal candidates for the lip lift procedure include the following:

  • Healthy people who want to change their upper lip line and how it affects their smiles
  • People who seek facial rejuvenation as part of feminization or masculinization procedures
  • Those who have an area at the bottom of the nose to the top lip's vermilion line that is longer than the 1.5 cm ideal length
  • Patients who discover their lipstick bleeds easily beyond the lip line and into wrinkles
  • Folks who find that the downturned corners of their mouths give them expressions that seem displeasing
  • Individuals who want a better balance in size and shape between their upper and lower lips
  • People who desire a more lifted Cupid’s bow and an appearance of fuller lips
  • Participants who do not want to achieve lip enhancement via temporary dermal fillers
  • Consumers who want permanent results that are visible immediately after surgery
  • Patients who have enough of a lengthy upper lip area whereby excess skin removal is possible

Those who should take caution or might not be ideal lip lift candidates include the following:

  • People with any type of infections that may affect the mouth, like herpes
  • Those who are not willing to deal with the possibility of a noticeable external scar, although scars may be small and hidden
  • Smokers unwilling to quit for a period of time prior to and after lip surgery
  • Individuals afflicted with diabetes, lupus or diseases that affect the blood's ability to clot

Possible Side Effects of a Lip Lift

Successful lip lift surgeries take place on a daily basis, but the potential for certain side effects exist, as with any surgery. The risk of infection, unpleasant results, the separation of a wound and scarring are all possibilities.

In order to avoid certain unexpected results, men are advised to receive electrolysis on skin that may display hair in an unexpected location after the lip lift. Patients who have prominent philtral columns, which are the two mountain-like peaks of skin running diagonal beneath the nostrils, may need to have their flaps thinned to prevent an unnatural appearance of a cleft lip, or a philtral extension into the nose. A loss of sensation, blood clots, and the accumulation of fluids are all potential side effects of lip lift surgery.

Long-Term Lip Lift Results

As people age, not only do the lips appear to lose their fullness, but the upper lip can curl inward and make the lips appear even less plump. Many people turn to a lip lift in order to reverse such signs of aging, with younger people also utilizing lip lifts to correct issues with their mouths they may have disliked for a long time.

According to the JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, a study of 30 patients who received lip lifts and surgery on their upper lips experienced "significant improvement in the appearance of" their lips that were long-term. Lip lifts can indeed restore the lips to a more youthful state, concluded the study, and offer a pleasing aesthetic change.

Those whose skin types are more prone to sun damage may discover that their upper lip lengthens at a greater rate than others, and as such, they can combat the prematurely aging look with a lip lift that lasts longer than using injectables and lip fillers.

In conclusion, an upper lip region may be the central part of facial aesthetics, but also an overlooked feature that can't be permanently enhanced with lip fillers. Hyaluronic acid injections may work well to enhance certain lips, while lip implants may work well for others. However, a soft and malleable type of permanent lip filler does not yet exist that has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use as a permanent lip enhancer.

Therefore, lip lifts can step in and fill in the gap where temporary lip fillers and permanent implant fillers leave more to be desired. Folks who want more of a permanent solution but don't want to risk the complications associated with certain implant lip fillers, like hardening of the implant or extrusions, can turn to lip lifts to reposition and reshape the lips into a more fulfilling stance. Lip lifts do not come with concerns about transferred fats or fillers being absorbed by the body and the lip enhancement effect waning over time.

Talk to your plastic surgeon for more information regarding your individual situation.

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