Lip augmentation is a cosmetic procedure that creates fuller, more defined and youthful lips. There are different types of lip augmentation to fit your needs and goals. Lip enhancement can be achieved through a surgical procedure such as lip implant or lip lift surgery for a permanent result. A non-surgical method is also available using lip injection technique such as fillers and Botox to add volume to lips temporarily.
Fat grafting (autologous fat injections or fat transfer): A board certified plastic surgeon takes fat from another area of your body, injects it into your lips following the purification of the fat.
Lip fillers: A healthcare provider injects lip filler, also called injectables, such as Restylane or Juvederm, Hyaluronic Acid (HA) Fillers, or Collagen lip fillers into your lips or around your mouth to enhance the appearance of lips and treat asymmetries.
Lip flip: A healthcare provider injects Botox above the upper lip, relaxing the muscles allowing more vermillion to show.
Lip implants: A board-certified plastic surgeon makes a small incision in each corner of your mouth and inserts an implant into your lips.
Surgical Lip lift: A board-certified plastic surgeon removes excess skin between your nose and upper lip or the corners of your mouth to pull up your upper lip for a more natural looking apperance.
How long your fuller lips last varies by procedure. For example:
Lip fillers last six months to a year.
Lip flip lasts three to four months.
Fat grafting lasts at least five years.
Lip implants are permanent but can be removed at any time.
Lip lift is permanent.
Recovery and Downtime
Both lip lifts and lip injections offer immediately visible results, but a lip lift requires more downtime as incisions heal. Typically sutures for a lip lift procedure will be removed in about 5 to 7 days. With lip injections, you can be event-ready within 2-3 days after the swelling subsides.
What Is a Lip Lift?
Lip lift is a type of plastic surgery procedure and is considered a permanent alternative to lip fillers. A lip lift is a surgical procedure that elevates the appearance of the upper lip by removing the excess skin between the nose and the border of the top lip, known as the philtrum. By shortening the distance between the nose and the top of the lip, the redness of the lip starts to roll outward, creating a more natural looking pout. While the procedure does make the lips appear fuller, lip lift surgery is not focused on increasing lip volume. It is focused on shortening the long upper lip and causing the red vermillion to become more prominent.
The procedure increases the amount of pink tissue also known as the vermillion, that’s visible which makes the thin lips look fuller and more pronounced. It also increases how much of your upper central teeth show when your lips are resting.
Why Get a Lip Lift?
During the normal aging process, the areas around the lips also known as the perioral area, often begins to change in size and shape. For most people, youthful-looking lips are balanced and full in shape.
Research has proven that an aesthetically pleasing face has a specific symmetry and balance between the lower and upper lip. The upper lip describes the tissues below the nostrils and the entire top lip. The lower lip describes the bottom lip as well as the skin that extends to the tip of the chin.
Generally speaking, a youthful lower face has a lower lip that is twice the height as the upper lip. As we age and the bone structure around the mouth thins, the cutaneous portion (skin-bearing portion of the lip) elongates and leads to a disproportion of this natural ratio, affecting the youthful appearance of one’s face.
In addition to the elongation of the cutaneous lip, people tend to lose volume in the vermillion area, which then diminish the lips’ contours. The skin-bearing portions of the upper and lower lips can develop vertical lines (lipstick lines) from repeated actions of the muscles. In combination, these changes give a less than desirable appearance to the perioral area, and a lip lift is a procedure we use to address them.
There are many reasons to consider getting a lip lift, and for each person, the outcome will be different. Some issues a lip lift can address are:
Additional lip volume without repeated dermal filler treatments
More definition of the “lipstick” lines
More pronounced “pout”
Shortening of the skin above the lip for more visibility of the teeth
Good Candidates for Lip Lift and Lip Augmentation
A person in good health and over the age of 18 is generally a good candidate for a lip lift. While there are a variety of reasons to consider a lip lift, the most common reasons are either an elongation of the upper lip or flattening of the top lip. For both concerns, a lip lift can help restore the natural symmetry and youthful balance a person once experienced.
Bad Candidates for Lip Lift and Lip Augmentation
A person who is not in good health or under the age of 18. If you’re a smoker and you’re not willing or able to quit for the post surgery healing period which is about 2 to 4 weeks. In addition, 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).
Types of Lip Lifts
There are several types of lip lifts. It’s important to know the types and techniques so you decide which is the right procedure for you. Typically these procedures can be done in-office under local anesthesia or combined with other cosmetic plastic surgery procedures such as a facelift or rhinoplasty which will be done under general anesthesia. The type of lift needed for your lips will be determined by your facial plastic surgeon at the time of consultation.
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.
This procedure typically leaves behind a scar on the upper lip area.
The subnasal bullhorn is one of the more common lip lift procedures.
An incision that’s typically hidden will be made 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.
Lip Lift Procedure and Recovery Time
Lip lift procedure involves lifting the tissue below the nose and above the upper lip to restore a balance between the upper and lower lips. A single excision is made beneath the nostrils and close the wound by lifting the right, central, and/or left portions of the upper lip. Once healed, the incision is usually hidden by the natural creases in the skin and is sometimes virtually invisible.
A lip lift is most usually performed in approximately one hour on an outpatient basis. It can also be performed with the patient under either local anesthesia or light sedation depending on what is best for the patient. Local anesthesia is used to numb the treated areas for minimal discomfort and you will be awake for the procedure.
It is recommended that you have someone drive you home from the procedure, as most patients experience mild to moderate discomfort, and the effects of the sedation will most likely still be present by the time you are discharged.
Minimal bruising is typically common in patients after a lip lift, and often patients will need to wear bandages for at least 24-48 hours after the procedure.
Post operative appointments are typically scheduled one week after the procedure. Following the post-op appointment, patients will typically feel comfortable enough to return to usual activity.
Do not 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 and the outcome of the surgery.
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.
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.
Scarring or bruising
Poor wound healing or infection
Blood loss during or after surgery
Nerve damage or lip stiffening
Uneven lips or swelling
Adverse reaction to anesthesia
Results of a Lip Lift
Our goal is always to achieve natural results, and with a lip lift, our goal is to provide subtle yet transformative results. Achieving a natural appearance depends on the size, shape, symmetry, proportion, and balance of the lips.
While individual results vary, some results that a patient can expect are:
Shortening of the lip length between the nose and mouth
Improved balance, symmetry, and proportions between the upper and lower face
Increased visibility of the upper teeth
Increased sensuality of the mouth
Shortening of the perceived length of the lower midface
Turning the “cupid’s bow” upward (lip eversion)
Increasing volume of the vermillion
Improvement of lipstick bleed lines and wrinkles
Subtle improvement in the corners of the mouth and the shape of ones’ smile
Decreased need for fillers and Botox
Looking younger overall, especially in the lower and mid-face regions
How Much Does Lip Augmentation or a Lip Lift cost?
Every person is different, so price varies based on what type of procedure you choose. Typically the surgery will cost around $2,000-$5,000 including anesthesia and facility fees. The quality of the surgeon is also a factor in cost, and a board certified plastic surgeon is always the best option.