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What Is a Lip Lift?
Lip lift surgery is a minor procedure that can improve the look of the area around the lips. A lip lift (cut right underneath the nose) can help pull up the upper lip, which results in a fuller-looking, more youthful and pronounced pout. It reduces the distance between the bottom of the nose and the top of the lips (called the philtrum). A cut right under the nose can center curves of the upper lip.
Oral commissure lifts or marionette lifts are performed at the corners of the mouth to improve the appearance of deep frown lines or downturned corners.
These procedures are typically done under local anesthesia and numbing injections as office procedures, and take less than 1.5 hours from start to finish.
Benefits of a Lip Lift
- Balances the face
- Increases upper lip volume and height, resulting in fuller-looking lips
- No upkeep or maintenance needed
Obviously, the permanence of a lip lift is perhaps its greatest appeal. Unlike fillers, there are no touch-ups or refills needed in the same area. However, many patients do continue with cosmetic injectables in the lower lip or surrounding areas for an improved overall appearance or reduced lines, better facial balance and fullness of both the upper and lower lips.
Your surgeon can alter both the size and shape of the excision to customize results based on the amount of lift you need. The biggest factor in lip lift candidacy is philtral distance, which can droop and elongate as we age.
The ideal patient is a middle to late-aged woman who has noticed a thinner upper lip, elongation of the distance from the upper lip to the nose, or decreased tooth show when smiling.
How to Prepare for a Lip Lift
Keep yourself in good health with a healthy diet beforehand. Smokers are not good candidates. Avoid alcohol for 48 hours before and after surgery.
You may consider taking vitamin C and multivitamins to promote healing and improve general health for two weeks or more pre-surgery. Avoid vitamin E, ibuprofen, steroids, and other anti-inflammatory or blood thinning medications at least a week before surgery.
What to Expect During a Lip Lift
Patients should show up bare-faced—no moisturizer, serum, or makeup of any kind—and in loose-fitting clothing that doesn’t need to go over the head (think: zip-ups and button-downs).
More detailed instructions will be given to you by your surgeon. Since you will not be getting IV anesthesia, you will likely be instructed to take some oral medication with a few bites of food before you arrive for your procedure.
You will be prepped for surgery with the skin being cleansed and then numbing injections delivered to the surgical field. For a lip lift, a mustache-shaped piece of skin under the nose will be excised. For the corner lifts, the incisions are made on each side with some skin removed. The wounds are carefully closed with sutures, and then the patient is finished and ready to go home. In total, the process should take less than 1-2 hours.
Dr. Howard was more understanding and sincere, than other doctors. I didn’t feel like ‘just another person’. Very comforting.
The recovery is fairly easy. Expect to see a line of stitches along the incisions for approximately 7-10 days post-operation, after which they’ll be removed in a follow-up appointment.
Patients are encouraged to gently ice the area for the first 48 hours to decrease swelling; but you should not ice the area after the first 48 hours, as this will slow the resolution of bruising.
Patients should avoid making expressive facial movements that pull on the stitches for the first few days. Even smiling and talking should be kept to a minimum during the first week to avoid stretching the sutures or incision.
There is usually a little bruising and swelling, as expected, but the pain tends to be mild, with patients returning to regular activity within a few days. Cardio and weight lifting exercises should be avoided for two weeks. Most people may want to wait until the sutures are removed before being seen out in public.
As with any procedure, complications are a possibility—that being said, lip lifts are very straightforward surgeries. While there’s a possibility of visible, long-lasting scarring, it’s usually well hidden under the base of the nose or in the natural creases. Coverup makeup can be used after the incisions are healed to help disguise the scars until they lighten up with time.
Lip Lift vs. Lip Fillers
The biggest difference from fillers is that lip lifts can resolve issues that fillers may not be able to. Lip Lifts are surgical treatments with lasting results.
A lip lift is designed to produce a fuller more youthful appearance to the upper lip, however, it is really not addressing the problem of an overly thin vermillion portion of the lip. The goal of the surgery is to shorten the philtra distance, allowing the pink part of the upper lip to be more visible. Fillers seek to plump the lips themselves and enhance the vermilion border.
While the procedure cost varies from patient to patient, you expect to pay between $2,000-$5,000, depending on which procedure(s) are performed.
The Final Takeaway
An elongated philtrum, deep or downturned corners of your mouth can age your appearance. Lip lift surgery can enhance your appearance with lasting results.
That being said, these procedures are not for everyone. Lip lifts are specifically geared towards those with aging deep lines around the mouth or an elongated upper lip space. For thin lips, deep nasolabial folds, or a weak chin, fillers may still be the best answer.