You’ve likely already heard of lip injections, sometimes called fillers or lip implants. These procedures give that bee-stung look to the lips.
There’s another surgical procedure known as a lip lift that can give you a different kind of pout. Unlike lip fillers, it’s permanent.
Keep reading to learn more about lip lifts, including the different types, what the procedure and recovery are like, and whether you’re a good candidate.
A lip lift is an in-office surgical procedure that shortens the space between the nose and the top of the lip, known as the “philtrum.”
The procedure increases the amount of pink tissue that’s visible which makes the lips look fuller and more pronounced. It also increases how much of your upper central teeth show when your lips are resting.
It’s a good option for people who want to add height instead of volume to their lips.
There are several types of lip lifts. It’s important to know the types and techniques so you can have an informed discussion with your surgeon about which is right for you.
Direct lip lift
A direct lip lift, sometimes called a gullwing lip lift, creates a more defined lip border.
A thin strip of skin is removed just above the upper lip, and the skin is pulled upwards, creating the illusion of a more pronounced vermillion (the pink part of the lips).
This procedure typically leaves behind a scar on the upper lip area.
The subnasal bullhorn is one of the more common lip lift procedures.
A surgeon will make an incision that’s typically hidden along the base of the nose where it’s less visible. The incision is often made in the shape of a bullhorn and the center, right, and left of the lip are all pulled up toward the nose.
Central lip lift
A central lip lift is similar to a subnasal bullhorn lift. It shortens the space between the nose and the lips by an incision at the lower nose.
Corner lip lift
A corner lip lift is sometimes called a “grin lift” because it gives the face a more smiley appearance.
It’s done by making two small incisions at both corners of the mouth and removing a small amount of skin. Some people will get this in tandem with another lip lift to give fuller lips.
It’s an option for people who feel they have downturned lips.
Italian lip lift
An Italian lip lift requires two incisions below each nostril, and other than that detail, it’s very similar to the bullhorn. It typically doesn’t involve a noticeable scar.
A lip lift can be a good option for older people who want to reduce the space between the lips and the nose. With age, this space typically increases and can make lips look thinner.
Younger people who haven’t achieved the look they want from fillers, or if they find that fillers make their lips look unnaturally plump or duck-like, may prefer a lip lift.
Lip lifts are also a permanent solution, so they can be helpful for people who are tired of the upkeep of filler.
You’re not a good candidate if…
- you don’t have a lot of space between the base of your nose and the top of your lip (typically about 1.5 centimeters)
- you’re a smoker and you’re not willing or able to quit for the postsurgery healing period (about 2 to 4 weeks)
It’s a good idea to speak to your surgeon if you have diabetes or any other condition that affects your blood’s ability to clot, or if you have oral herpes.
There are several steps you should take to set you up for success before and after surgery.
Don’t eat or drink for 6 hours before surgery.
- Your doctor may have you stop smoking in the weeks before and after surgery, as
smoking can affect anesthesia.
- Don’t drink alcohol, which can interfere with anesthesia, for 48 hours beforehand.
- Up to 2 weeks beforehand, avoid aspirin and any blood thinning medications.
The lip lift procedure is done in a surgeon’s office and a patient will likely be given local anesthesia instead of general anesthesia because the pain isn’t too intense.
A small piece of skin will be removed from somewhere between the nose and mouth — the exact location will depend on what time of lip lift you’re getting. Sutures will be put on for up to a week after.
- Plan to rest for 24 hours after the procedure.
- Avoid strenuous exercise and smoking in the weeks after.
- Avoid sleeping on your face or opening your mouth too wide.
- Use a small toothbrush and brush carefully.
- Keep your lips moisturized.
- Clean the incisions following the doctor’s recommendations.
As with all surgeries, lip lifts have some potential complications which is why it’s always essential to use a board-certified plastic surgeon.
Complications of plastic surgery include:
- poor wound healing or scarring
- blood loss during or after surgery
- nerve damage
- allergic reactions to anesthesia
Because lip lifts are an elective cosmetic procedure, they’re not covered by insurance.
The cost of a lip lift varies depending on who performs the procedure and where you live. According to Aesthetic Edit, the procedure costs somewhere between $2,000 and $5,000.
It will also be more expensive if you’re getting a corner lip lift paired with another lift.
It’s essential to find a reputable, board-certified plastic surgeon to perform a lip lift.
Even though it’s a quick procedure done under local anesthesia, if your surgeon isn’t properly trained, it can be dangerous and unsanitary.
This online tool is a good resource for finding a reputable plastic surgeon near you.
Lip lifts are an elective cosmetic surgery that can make the upper lift look larger and more pronounced. Unlike lip implants or injections, lip lifts are a permanent solution.
People looking for a more defined cupid’s bow without the “duck lip” look from implants or filler, or older people who want to reduce the thinning of the lips that can happen with age are good candidates for lip lifts.
Those who won’t be able to stop smoking for about 4 weeks postsurgery or those who have a smaller space between the nose and the mouth won’t be good candidates.
It’s essential to find a reputable plastic surgeon to perform the surgery and to follow the surgeon’s instructions before and after surgery.