The lip lift is a surgical procedure that enhances the volume and proportions of the upper lip. It addresses the elongation of the upper lip skin, the thinning and inversion of the red portion of the lip, and the loss of dental show that some patients may develop as they age or could be born with. This procedure is a more natural alternative to lip enhancement with filler. The incision heals subtly in a natural crease under the nose.
Lip Lift Before & After
Am I a good candidate?
Some individuals have thin, poorly defined upper lips and a long distance between the red lip border and the base of the nose. The length of the lip can increase with aging. It can also increase with the overuse of fillers in the lips. An aspect of these changes that can concern individuals is resultant loss of upper tooth show, which is a hallmark of a youthful peri-oral (mouth) area. The lip lift is a surgical procedure that can address the above concerns.
Most candidates for lip lift surgery range in age from 30s to 70s. A consultation is recommended to determine candidacy for the procedure, because there may be factors that preclude this procedure for certain individuals. Reasonable expectations must be established about what lip lift surgery can and cannot accomplish as with all plastic surgery procedures. As with all facial plastic surgery procedures, results can vary.
Recovery from a lip lift is specific to the individual. The duration of recovery will vary from person to person. The recovery time for this procedure is approximately 5 to 7 days for most individuals. No dressings are required after surgery. Sutures (stitches) are removed approximately 5 days after surgery.
Some swelling and bruising are expected after a lip lift. Post-operative bruising is generally minimal. Post-operative swelling and bruising generally improve significantly by 7 to 14 days after surgery. Swelling and bruising are expected to continue to improve and resolve in the ensuing days and weeks.
Makeup can generally be applied to the incision site starting approximately 10 to 14 days after surgery. The healing process does not end at 14 days, however. For example, the incision continues to heal for months after surgery.
What to expect in a consultation
Expect a detailed, informative conversation with Dr. Harmon about your concerns and aesthetic goals regarding your lip. He will assess your anatomy and develop a personalized treatment plan to address your concerns and aesthetic goals.
Frequently asked questions
- Does a lip lift require general anesthesia to perform?
- No, a lip lift can be performed very comfortably while awake and under local anesthesia, thereby avoiding post-operative anesthesia recovery. This can be an especially good option for someone who seeks a lip lift without other complementary procedures. Some individuals may require IV sedation or general anesthesia.
- Can the lip lift be performed as a standalone procedure or must it be performed with other procedures?
- The lip lift can be performed either as a standalone procedure or with other procedures. However, it is potentially a powerful complement to the extended deep plane facelift, neck lift, and brow lift (lateral temporal lift) in addressing the signs of aging of the face comprehensively.
- How does the lip lift differ from lip filler?
- The lip lift addresses aspects of aging that lip filler cannot. For example, the lip lift can increase the height of the lip and create “poutiness” to the lip without overinflating the lip and while preserving the natural peaks and contours of the lip. It can also shorten the skin of the upper lip, which often lengthens as we age. Lip filler can do neither of these things.
- Does this prevent me from having lip filler placed in the future?
- No, lip filler can be useful to restore volume to the “deflated” lip, making it plumper and smoother, thereby enhancing the effects of the lip lift.
- How long after a lip lift can filler be placed in the lips?
- There are no established guidelines recommending a specific time frame pass after a lip lift to receive lip filler. It is generally recommended that at least six months pass after a lip lift before considering placing lip filler.
- Is the lip lift incision obviously visible?
- The lip lift incision is tucked in a natural crease under the nose. This location, as well as the fact that the specialized technique is performed in a deep plane in order to minimize tension, maximizes the healing of this incision and minimizes its appearance.
- Can a lip lift be performed at the same time as nose surgery (rhinoplasty)?
- It is usually best to perform a lip lift separate from nose surgery (rhinoplasty). The lip lift incision sits hidden at the base of the nose. A rhinoplasty incision is usually placed in the middle of the central pillar of the nose, called the columella. While the incisions are separate, only millimeters separate them. As a result, there is an increased risk of poor blood flow post-operatively to the small island of skin between them. One exception to this restriction includes endonasal rhinoplasty procedures, which involve no external nasal incision and, therefore, no small island of skin between external incisions.
- Can a lip lift be performed at the same time as the treatment of smoker's lines (perioral rhytids)?
- Yes. A lip lift can be performed as the same time as the treatment of smoker's lines.
- Can a lip lift improve the symmetry of the lips?
- Yes, though within a narrow range. There is some flexibility when designed the surgical site for a lip lift to address minor asymmetries in the height of the red lip. However, this extends only approximately one to two millimeters. More significant asymmetry generally cannot be treated completely with a lip lift.
- Is a "lip flip" non-surgical procedure using Botox© an alternative to a surgical lip lift?
- No. Dr. Harmon does not offer a "lip flip" procedure using Botox© due to the fact that there is a risk of oral incompetence and asymmetry with this procedure.
- Is lip lift surgery reversable?
- No. However, additional procedures to lift the lip farther are possible. It is generally recommended to err towards a more conservative, though effective, lift for those reasons.
- Does a lip lift affect the shape of the nose?
- No. The lip lift does not alter the shape of the nose. However, as expected after most surgical procedures, post-operative swelling can affect the surrounding tissue. As a result, the base of the nose often temporarily swells along with the upper lip itself.
- Is there a "lip lift" procedure for the bottom lip?
- No. While there are surgical procedures available to reduce the size of the lower lip, there is no surgical corollary to the lip lift for the lower lip. Options to increase the volume of the lower lip include hyaluronic acid dermal fillers, fat augmentation, and the placement of SMAS (deep fascia) taken during a facelift procedure.
- Why do individuals who receive tooth veneers or undergo other cosmetic dental procedures often seek a lip lift?
- Youthful lips often sit apart at rest, demonstrating 1 - 3 mm of tooth show. This tooth show is eliminated as the upper lip lengthens with age. The lip lift can restore some of this tooth show and, therefore, newly straight and white teeth. The lip lift and veneers are two components of peri-oral rejuvenation.
- Is the lip lift procedure painful?
- Facial plastic surgery procedures are generally well-tolerated by patients and typically involve little pain, especially when compared with surgery on other areas of the body. Patients are usually prescribed just a small amount of pain medication for after surgery. In fact, we have found most use only over-the-counter pain medication including acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen after surgery instead. And those who do use the prescribed pain medication usually only use it the first night after surgery. With that in mind, it is important to note that every patient perceives and processes pain differently. Some patients have a high pain tolerance. Others may be more predisposed to be more sensitive to pain. We at Harmon Facial Plastic Surgery are focused on balancing minimizing post-operative discomfort and maximizing safety.
Why Choose Dr. Harmon
- The mission of Harmon Facial Plastic Surgery is to help people along their journey towards self-confidence, to feel good about feeling good.
- Dr. Harmon values making patients feel welcomed, listened to, and respected.
- Dr. Harmon graduated with honors from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science degree in molecular biology.
- Dr. Harmon earned his medical degree from the University of Cincinnati.
- Dr. Harmon underwent five years of extensive training in head at neck surgery at the prestigious residency program at the University of Cincinnati.
- Dr. Harmon then underwent focused fellowship training in cosmetic facial plastic surgery through the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) with the world-renowned surgeon, Dr. Andrew Jacono, on Park Avenue in New York City.
- Dr. Harmon posts frequently and covers a wide range of topics, including procedure-specific information, volunteering, general health, and much more. Read more from Dr. Harmon by visiting his blog.
- Harmon Facial Plastic Surgery can be reached here.
- Article - Lip Lift Versus Lip Filler
- Article - Peri-Oral Rejuvenation: An Explainer
- Article - Is a Non-Surgical Lip Flip Worthwhile?
- Article - Three Procedures to Address the Signs of an Aging Face Comprehensively
- Article - The Importance of Post-Operative Recovery Incision Care and Our Plan
- Article - Is Silicone Gel Effective in Improving the Appearance of Surgical Incisions?
- Article - What Makes a Facial Plastic Surgeon Qualified to Care for Your Face?