A bullhorn lip lift is an elective cosmetic surgery that shortens the space between the base of the nose and the upper lip, making the lips appear fuller and more pronounced.


Bullhorn lip lifts are usually done under local anesthesia and are considered safe and effective.

As with all elective surgeries, there are risks and potential complications, including:

  • scarring
  • bleeding
  • pain
  • reactions to anesthesia


Bullhorn lip lifts typically take 1 to 2 hours in office.

You may be able to resume most normal activities in the days after the procedure, but you’ll have to take extra precautions with your lips and avoid the following:

  • strenuous activity
  • smoking
  • alcohol

It’s essential to find a trained, board-certified plastic surgeon for this procedure.


The cost of bullhorn lip lifts will vary based on several factors, but generally the procedure should cost somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000.


A bullhorn lip lift is a permanent procedure that’s effective at making the upper lip look more pronounced.

The procedure may be attractive to people who don’t like the upkeep of fillers, or those who want a more pronounced mouth without ample volume.

A bullhorn lip lift, also sometimes called a subnasal lip lift, is a procedure that can make the lips look fuller without the use of filler. With proper care, the results are permanent, which filler is not.

There are many types of lip lifts. With a bullhorn lip lift, a surgeon shortens the space between the lips and the nose, known as the philtrum.

This type of lip lift is called a bullhorn, because a subtle scar along the nostrils runs in one continuous line from one nostril to the other nostril in the shape of a bullhorn.

Good candidates for lip lifts include people who want to make their lips look fuller, or those who want their lips to be higher or poutier without added plumping. Those with smaller mouths and broader nasal bases are also considered good candidates.

People undergoing facial feminization may also opt for a lip lift.

If you don’t have excess space between the highest part of your lip and the base of your nose, typically about 1.5 centimeters, you might not be the right candidate for a bullhorn lip lift. This is also true if you smoke and you’re unwilling to quit or take a break for 2 to 4 weeks during the healing process.

If you have an oral condition, like herpes, or a condition that affects your blood’s ability to clot, it’s a good idea to speak with your surgeon beforehand to find out if the procedure is right for you.

Because a bullhorn lip lift is an elective cosmetic procedure, it’s very unlikely that insurance will cover it.

The cost varies by surgeon and your specific situation. The procedure can cost between $1,000 and $3,000, but the higher end of this range is more common.

A bullhorn lip lift procedure shortens the space between the upper lip and the nose, pulling the lip upward, so more pink tissue is visible.

While it doesn’t physically change the volume or size of the lips, or give that “duck-bill” look that sometimes occurs from overdone lip augmentation, a lip lift makes it so that more of the upper lip is visible. This makes the mouth look fuller and more pronounced.

After a bullhorn lip lift, your teeth will also be more visible when smiling. If you use your finger to pull your upper lip up slightly, you can approximate what a lip lift might look like.

A bullhorn lip lift is an in-office procedure. You may need to be medically cleared in the weeks before it.

On the day of your procedure, here’s what you can expect:

  • You’ll be given topical or local anesthesia to numb the area.
  • Once you’re numb and the surgeon has cleaned the area, they’ll make an incision from one nostril to the other.
  • They’ll then cut the skin and close the area with stitches or sutures.

The bullhorn lip lift targets the upper lip and the space between the nose and lip, known as the philtrum.

There are several types of lip lifts, but the subnasal bullhorn is a popular option. This is because the scarring is discrete and typically hidden by the nostrils.

As with most cosmetic surgeries, there’s potential for some complications or side effects with bullhorn lip lifts. This is part of the reason why it’s essential to use a board certified plastic surgeon.

Complications of plastic surgery include:

Your surgeon should tell you exactly what to expect after a lip lift.

You may have bruising and swelling on the lips for 2 to 4 weeks post-operation. People with naturally fuller lips may take longer to reach full recovery than folks with thinner lips, because there’s more tissue that needs to heal.

The scarring can take 3 to 4 months to become less noticeable.

If properly cared for, results should be permanent. Generally, after a bullhorn lip lift, you should plan to do the following:

  • Rest for at least 24 hours after the procedure.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise and smoking in the weeks after.
  • Avoid sleeping on your face or opening your mouth wide.
  • Use a smaller toothbrush than normal, and brush carefully.
  • Keep your lips moisturized with a gentle product approved by your doctor.
  • Avoid chewing gum.
  • Clean any incisions following the doctor’s recommendations.

When deciding if the lip lift procedure is right for you, it can be helpful to see pictures from real people who have had it done.

Below you’ll find before and after pictures.

Your surgeon will fill you in on exactly what to do and not do in the weeks leading up to your lip lift.

To prepare for your lip lift, you should plan to do the following:

  • Avoid eating in the 6 hours prior to surgery.
  • Stop smoking for an amount of time discerned by your doctor. Smoking can affect anesthesia, impair wound healing, and cause further scarring.
  • Avoid alcohol in the days before and after your surgery. Alcohol can also interact with anesthesia.

It’s very important to seek out a reputable, board certified plastic surgeon to perform your bullhorn lip lift.

While the lip lift procedure is quick and typically done under local anesthesia, there can be lasting damage if your surgeon isn’t properly trained and experienced.

This online tool from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons is a good resource for finding a reputable plastic surgeon near you.