Lip Shaping Solutions
Whether someone is dealing with lip shape concerns like uneven, drooping, or poorly defined lips, there are an array of surgical and non-surgical procedures available to enhance and rejuvenate the lips.
- The Skinny
- Lip Shape Concerns
- Professional Lip Shaping
- At-Home Lip Shaping
- The Takeaway
- Source List
While lip augmentation and lip reduction procedures exist to solve problems related to lip size, there are a host of cosmetic concerns related to lip shape that require a different set of solutions. Drooping lips, uneven lips, and a lack of lip definition are related to lip shape, and each occurs as a result of genetics, aging, or some combination of the two. Fortunately, there are both temporary and permanent non-surgical and surgical procedures that can enhance the shape of the lips by addressing the angles, protrusion, symmetry, and teeth exposure of the mouth and lip area. (1)
Who may consider a lip shaping procedure?
Lip reshaping can benefit both those who wish to refine their appearance and those looking to correct the effects of natural aging. Abnormalities of lip shape — like drooping lips, an uneven pout, or undefined vermillion border — can be the result of genetics, environmental factors (think: smoking, UV exposure, and even an affinity for drinking through a straw), and/or aging and can lead to cosmetic concerns and certain medical conditions.
Modifying the angles of the corners of the mouth, the fullness of the upper lip, the proportion of the lower lip, or even the distance between the cupid's bow and base of the nose can have a significant effect. Cosmetic and plastic surgery procedures can be used to alter shape secondary to functional medical concerns. (2)
What can you expect from lip shaping procedures?
With varying levels of permanence and invasiveness, there are numerous ways to achieve your desired lip look. While temporary solutions range from lip liner to lip injections, permanent reshaping is possible with lip surgeries like lip lift procedures and implants. (3)
When should you consider a lip shaping procedure?
The timing of a cosmetic lip procedure is, of course, a personal decision. While the ideal candidate is technically only limited by active infection, current medical pathologies, inability to abstain from smoking around the procedure, or a lack of time to commit to appropriate recovery and downtime, there are other things to consider when planning for treatment.
Some people, for example, may choose to undergo a lip enhancement procedure alone, while others may tie it into a larger facial rejuvenation treatment plan. Consulting with a board certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist will ensure the appropriate course of action for your concerns and needs.
Why should you consider a lip shaping or defining procedure?
If you are looking to address visible signs of aging relating to the lip area or simply wish to enhance your natural shape, there are a host of surgical and non-surgical options available at varying levels of cost and permanence.
Professional Lip Shaping Procedures
Depending on the invasiveness of the procedure, a board certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist can perform a number of procedures that can reshape the lips temporarily or long term.
Lip Filler and Injectables
Injectable fillers and botulinum toxin type A (BoNT-A) injections are less invasive (and, often, less permanent) ways to improve lip volume and evenness and raise the corners of the mouth without surgery.
- Overview: For a non-surgical way to correct drooping or frowning lips, neurotoxin injections like Botox®, Dysport®, Jeuveau®, and Xeomin® can be used to paralyze the musculature around the mouth to create a softer, less downturned appearance.
- Cost: $100 - $1,500
- Recovery & Results: There is a little to no downtime associated with BoNT-A injections aside from bruising or swelling of the injection site. Results take three to five days to appear and last three to four months. (7)
- Overview: Fillers made of hyaluronic acid, autologen, or autologous fat transfer fillers can be injected into the lips for a fuller, more even pout. They can also be used along the vermillion border for more definition.
- Cost: $500 - $2,000 per lip
- Recovery & Results: There is minimal downtime following filler injections, and results last six to 12 months.
- Overview: Unlike temporary lip fillers, these injectables stimulate the body's natural collagen production to improve and maintain fullness over time. Treatments must be spread out over weeks or months to prevent overfilling.
- Cost: $500 - $1,000
- Recovery & Results: There are typically about 72 hours of swelling or redness with results lasting a year or more. (6)
- Overview: Unlike temporary and semi-permanent fillers, permanent treatments do not degrade or breakdown over time.
- Cost: $500-$1,000
- Recovery & Results: Recovery is generally less than a week, and, while the results are permanent, follow up treatments may initially be needed every two to three months to avoid overfilling.
- Overview: This natural alternative to synthetic lip filler involves harvesting patient-derived collagen and injecting it into the lips. Because it is a natural substance, there is no risk of allergic reaction.
- Cost: $1,200 - $1,500
- Recovery & Results: The recovery and results are similar to other temporary lip fillers.
- Overview: Fat is harvested via liposuction from the stomach, thighs, or buttocks and injected into the lip like a filler with no no risk of rejection.
- Cost: $1,000 - $5,000
- Recovery & Results: While permanent integration can occur, such injections typically last six months to a year with about a week of recovery time.
There are various materials that can be used to permanently alter the shape of existing lip tissue by inserting a mold that will enhance the volume of the lips.
- Overview: Only performed in conjunction with an SMAS facelift, this procedure involves grafting tissue from the superficial musculoaponeurotic system (SMAS) during the facelift, shaping it, and then implanting it into the lips.
- Cost: $5,000 - $8,000
- Recovery & Results: This permanent procedure has a longer recovery due to the invasiveness. Patients can expect to be out of work for about three days with initial recovery occurring in one to two weeks. Strenuous activity should be limited for up to one month.
A lip lift is a surgical procedure that provides permanent results. While it is the most invasive solution of the bunch with a slightly longer recovery time, various upper lip lift techniques, lower lip lift procedures, and corner lip lift treatments that can create more fuller lips that are more even and defined without additional maintenance. (4)
- Overview: Ideal for patients with lip ptosis (drooping corners of the mouth), the procedure changes the slope of the deep oral commissure grooves by excising small areas of skin and suturing them closed.
- Cost: $3,000 - $4,000
- Recovery & Results: Pain, redness, and swelling may persist for a week or more. Results are permanent with some scarring that fades in time.
- Overview: Two small incisions are made directly under the nostril before skin is removed from either side of the lip. The procedure is a good choice for candidates with height mismatches between the red and white portions of the lip or for those who desire a more pronounced cupid’s bow.
- Cost: $3,000 - $4,500
- Recovery & Results: Usual recovery from this permanent procedure is about 10 days, with swelling peaking within the first three days and sutures removed after five.
- Overview: Ideal for men with facial hair, this procedure corrects disproportionate heights between red and white lips by creating incisions along the vermillion border to increase lip size and enhance the shape.
- Cost: $3,000 - $4,500
- Recovery & Results: Results are permanent after about 10 days of recovery time. The nature of the incisions causes more scarring, so this type of lift is typically best for men with facial hair.
- Overview: Best choice for those with long upper lips looking to increase the appearance of the “red” part of the lips below the nose. The lift increases the amount of teeth that will show while smiling by advancing skin from the upper lift up toward the nostrils.
- Cost: $3,000 - $4,500
- Recovery & Results: Results are visible immediately after surgery, save for a bit of swelling and soreness that may persist for up to two weeks.
- Overview: This lift simultaneously reduces the space between the upper lip and nostrils while also augmenting the size of the lip by exposing and rolling up the inner portion of the lip.
- Cost: $3,000 - $4,500
- Recovery & Results: Sutures are generally removed within five days and recovery occurs within 10.
- Overview: Also known as semi-permanent makeup or cosmetic lip tattoos, the treatment involves using pigment to enhance the lip shape and/or color.
- Cost: $450 - $1,000
- Recovery & Results: Two to three sessions are typically needed for full results with minimal pain and swelling for three to 10 days. Pigment fades naturally over the course of several years.
At-Home Lip Shaping Solutions
In addition to invasive and non-invasive professional lip shaping procedures, immediate results can be enjoyed at home with good old fashioned lip liner. A combination of lip liner with lipstick or lip gloss can create the illusion of fuller, more defined lips — without a trip to the dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon's office.
Whether you are looking for a temporary solution or a permanent fix, there are an array of invasive and non-invasive procedures available to enhance lip shape by evening out the pout, defining the lips, or correcting drooping.
(1) 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. 13333–1342.
(2) Ali, MJ, et al. “Perioral Rejuvenation and Lip Augmentation.” Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics of North America, vol. 15, no. 4, Nov. 2007, pp. 491–500.
(3) Byrne, PJ, and Hilger, PA. “Lip Augmentation.” Facial Plast Surg, vol. 20, no. 1, 2004, pp. 31–38.
(4) Luthra, A. “Shaping Lips with Fillers.” J Cutan Aesthet Surg. v.8(3); Jul-Sep 2015
(5) Kaminagakura, E, Aparecida Rosa, J, Rodarte Carvalho, Y, Dias Almeida, J. “Undesirable Effect of Cosmetic Lip augmentation with Autologous Fat Tissue.” BMC Res Notes. 2013; 6: 79.
(6) Hoffmann, C, et al. “Adverse Reactions after Cosmetic Lip Augmentation with Permanent Biologically Inert Implant Materials70536-0/fulltext).” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, vol. 40, no. 1, Jan. 1999, pp. 100–102.
(7) Rohrich, RJ, et al. “The Role of Hyaluronic Acid Fillers (Restylane) in Facial Cosmetic Surgery: Review and Technical Considerations.” Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery , vol. 120, no. 6S, Nov. 2007, pp. 41S–54S.
(8) Jeong, TK. “Mouth Corner Lift With Botulinum Toxin Type A and Hyaluronic Acid Filler.” Plast Reconstr Surg. 2020 Mar;145(3):538e-541e.