What is Lip Reduction?
Also called Reduction Cheiloplasty, lip reduction is a type of cosmetic plastic surgery that helps to achieve a balanced relationship between the upper and lower lips. The goal is to enhance facial appearance by modifying the lips while maintaining their normal function.
Lip reduction alters the posture of the lips by removing some of the excess tissue that makes up their volume. Traditionally, this procedure involves removing an elliptical strip of tissue. However, in modern variations like the “Bikini Lip Reduction”, different shapes of tissue are removed from the lips to rejuvenate the appearance of the mouth and face.
In most cases, this surgery is performed electively at the patient’s request. It continues to gain popularity as a lip enhancement procedure among those with naturally large lips, particularly within the Asian, African-American, and Caribbean-American populations.
However, this procedure is not only performed for cosmetic reasons. Some medical conditions cause drooling, poor speech, labial incompetence, or other challenges, like low self-esteem and social anxiety, that a lip reduction can help to improve.
The most common of these are Macrocheilia (excessively prominent lips), Fistulas (“pits”) of the lower lip, Double Lip, and a neurological disorder called Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), overly large lips can also result from:
- Dentofacial deformities (pseudomacrocheilia)
- Generalized thickening of all tissues
- Lymphedematous infiltration
- Inflammatory infiltration
- Glandular hypertrophy
- Hemangiomas (red nodules of extra blood vessels)
In many cases, a lip reduction procedure can help to normalize or restore proper oral function. This is especially helpful for those whose lips do not seal adequately, and thereby cause drooling, poor speech, or other challenges.
Reduction cheiloplasty may also be performed to remove substances like Aquamid®, Artecoll®, Bellafill®, Bioplastique, Gore-Tex®, fat transfer, or silicon in those who previously had lip augmentation procedures but desire a new look.
Benefits of Lip Reduction
Lip reduction is a serious surgical procedure that should only be performed by board-certified plastic surgeons. Some of the benefits of reduction cheiloplasty include:
- Removes excess tissue (or substances) that cause lip deformity
- Enhances facial harmony by balancing the upper and lower lips
- Typically requires only a local anesthesia agent
- Is an outpatient procedure that is commonly performed in less than an hour
- Only one treatment is necessary for most patients to achieve permanent results
- Very little downtime after the procedure
- No visible scarring
Ideal Candidates for Lip Reduction
This procedure may be suitable for anyone who desires to reduce the size of their lips to help balance their facial proportions and enhance their self-perception. However, like any surgery, it is not suitable for all people. The ideal candidate for this type of cosmetic surgery:
- Is a nonsmoker
- Has good health
- Does not suffer from mental illness
- Has stable body weight
- Has realistic expectations about what to expect from the procedure
Who Should Avoid This Procedure?
According to Medscape, lip reduction is contraindicated for:
- Candidates with more than 3 mm intralabial space
- Candidates who are not able to retract their lower lips
- Candidates who drool because of poor facial muscle tone
If you are considering having this lip enhancement procedure, during the initial consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon the doctor will be able to determine if you are a good candidate or not.
Preparing for Lip Reduction
The most important step of preparing for a lip reduction surgery is choosing the plastic surgeon that you’ll work with. This is an important decision that you will live with for the rest of your life.
The American Board of Cosmetic Surgeons (AMCS) recommends that you:
- Make sure the doctor is a board certified plastic surgeon
- Ask about the doctors experience performing this specific surgery
- Compare before and after photos of previous patients who have undergone the procedure
- Be mindful of how the doctor and staff make you feel.
- Inquire if the surgery clinic is AAAASF, AAAHC or JCAHO certified
- Ask about the anesthesiologist's qualifications and experience with this procedure
If you are a good candidate and decide to go ahead with the lip reduction procedure, then your doctor will give you some pre-surgery instructions to make sure you are properly prepared. These may include stopping smoking, discontinuing the use of anti-inflammatory or blood-thinning medications, or other instructions depending on your unique situation.
Lip Reduction Cost
The cost of lip reduction surgery typically ranges between $1500-$5000. Several variables affect the actual price you will pay, including:
- The board-certified plastic surgeon’s reputation and experience
- Operational costs of the surgery clinic and staff members
- Fees for the anesthesiologist and the anesthesia
- Costs of lab tests and X-rays
- Postsurgical medications needed
Lip Reduction Safety
Your doctor will explain the risks associated with a lip reduction during your consultation appointment. This procedure is considered safe for appropriate candidates and most people experience only mild swelling, pain, and bleeding after having it performed.
However, there are possibilities for adverse side effects including:
- Post-surgery infection
- Persistent pain
- Acute inflammation
- Persistent bleeding
Contact the doctor immediately if you begin to develop any serious side effects after your lip reduction surgery.
Lip Reduction Procedure
Most lip reduction surgeries are completed within 30-60 minutes using only local anesthesia. This outpatient procedure typically involves:
- Horizontal incisions are made on the inside of the lip(s) being treated
- Unwanted fat tissue (or augmentation filler) is removed
- Incisions are closed with dissolvable stitches
Some patients have other procedures (chin implant, eyelid surgery, lip lift, etc.) at the same time as a lip reduction. General anesthesia may be necessary for those having multiple procedures performed.
Lip Reduction Recovery Time
You should have a friend ready to drive you home after your reduction cheiloplasty. You will likely still be feeling some effects of the anesthesia for a few hours.
Most patients heal from lip reduction in 1-3 weeks. There is very little downtime expected. Most people can report back to work the day after the procedure.
Most people experience mild pain and swelling which peaks within 3-4 days after the surgery. The doctor may prescribe an anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, or analgesic medication to help you experience less swelling, infection, or pain.
Lip sensation or function may be temporarily affected by this cosmetic facial surgery. It produces permanent results with only a single treatment in most cases. Rarely, an individual needs subsequent surgeries to achieve optimal results.
You’ll need to stay well-hydrated and keep a natural lip moisturizer on hand while healing. The dissolvable sutures will degrade completely within 7-15 days.
You should avoid contact sports, heavy lifting, or other strenuous physical activities for a minimum of 2 weeks after the surgery.
A lip reduction surgery helps to enhance the overall facial appearance by bringing balance to the upper and lower lips.
This procedure is beneficial for some medical conditions that compromise oral function; sometimes causing drooling, speech impediments, problems eating, and low self-confidence.
Reduction cheiloplasty is well-tolerated in most candidates. Many patients report little or no pain and only mild-to-moderate swelling. Most lip reduction patients heal nicely in 1-3 weeks. Patients typically return to work the following day. However, returning to strenuous activities can take several weeks.
Many people today are choosing to reduce the volume of their lips. Whether you simply desire thinner lips or have a medical need to reduce their volume, this safe outpatient procedure might have benefits for you.
The cost of lip reduction is typically between $1500-$5000, depending on various factors. Talk to a board certified plastic surgeon to learn more about this facial rejuvenation surgery.