What Is An Upper Lip Lift?
An upper lip lift is a cosmetic surgical procedure that aims to make your lips permanently look fuller and larger in appearance. The key indicator for the surgeon lies in shortening the distance between the base of the nose and the border of the upper lip (cupid’s bow). This area under the nose is called the philtrum. By shortening the philtrum and pulling the upper lip upward, more “pink” will roll outward. This pink part of the lips is called the vermillion.
Different Types of Lip Lift
There are several types of lip lift to choose from:
- Direct lip lift
- Subnasal bullhorn lift
- Corner lip lift
- Italian lip lift
- Central lip lift
Your plastic surgeon will help you choose the optimal lip lift surgery for your cosmetic goals. Lip enhancement can improve the proportions of your face, permanently volumise your lips, and get rid of wrinkles above the mouth.
Why Patients Might Consider Lip Lift Surgery
Lip lift is a one-day cosmetic procedure, in which our surgeons perform. There are many reasons why a patient might choose to undergo lip lift surgery, including:
- Results are regarded as permanent
- A subtle way to lift the lips – no foreign material injections
- Aims to improve the proportions of the face – shortening the philtrum and augmenting the upper lip
- Aims to improve the mouth shape at rest – more “pink” showing, slight space between lips
- Broadening the smile
- It takes under 30 minutes to perform
- Can be done under local anaesthesia
- Has a recovery period of 2-3 weeks
Lip lift surgery doesn’t just create the appearance of larger lips. Your overall facial appearance depends on the proportion of different facial structures. When the space between the nose and lip (philtrum) is too large, it can affect your facial proportions.
Our surgeons aim to reduce the philtrum and augment the lips to be proportionate with the rest of the face.
Who is a good Candidate for the Lip Lift Surgery?
A lip lift is a cosmetic procedure and can be suitable for both younger and older patients. A lip lift may help if:
- You have a thin upper lip – either due to genetics or early ageing
- You want to avoid getting fillers every few months
- Fillers are giving you unsatisfactory results
- You want to reduce wrinkles above your lips
- The space between the base of the nose and upper lip is more than about 1.5 cm
- You’re willing to stop smoking at least 4 weeks before and after the surgery
- You are generally in good health
There’s no one single cause for thin inverted lips. It can be a result of ageing. As we age, skin loses elasticity, and the philtrum droops, causing the upper lip to disappear. Some people, on the other hand, are just born with small slender lips and want fuller plump lips..
How Is Lip Lift Surgery Performed?
There are several types of upper lip lift procedures. Dr Maryam and Dr Hunt will help you choose the most appropriate surgery that suits your individual condition. In general, all the different types of lip lifting surgery can be done under local or general anaesthesia. They all involve an incision in the skin between the nose and upper lip. Before the incision, your surgeon will use a surgical marker to draw the surgical lines. The location, shape, and size of the lip lift incision depend on the type of lip lift you get:
Bullhorn Lip Lift
Also called “subnasal bullhorn lip lift”. It involves a curved incision along the lower border of the nose. The incision resembles a mustache or bullhorn.
Your surgeon will precisely cut out a bullhorn-shaped piece of skin from under the nose. The lower edge of the incision is pulled up, lifting the upper lip and rolling it out. The incision is then closed with fine sutures along the base of the nose.
The bullhorn lip lift is one of the most commonly performed lip lift techniques at our clinic in Sydney. Bullhorn lift generally leads to almost invisible scars. The scar is so well hidden on the curves of the nose that they’re not noticeable. Moreover, a bullhorn lip lift produces sustained results.
Direct lip lift
Also called “gullwing lip lift”. The direct lip lift is a common way to make the lips appear bigger. It involves a skin incision right at the vermillion border. That’s right above the lip, instead of under the nose (as with bullhorn lip lift). After cutting a thin piece of skin, your surgeon will roll the lip out and suture it in place. A direct lip lift aims to create a more defined upper lip border. However, it can leave a thin scar above the lip. Nevertheless, the scar is usually only noticeable by close observation.
Corner Lip Lift
A corner lip lift, also called “grin lift”, aims to improve your smile and give you a more cheerful look. Some patients naturally have a slight grin. A corner lift addresses this and aims to turns the grin into a smile.
A corner lip lift involves 2 incisions, one at each corner of the mouth. Your surgeon will pull the sides upward and outward, creating a more “smiley” appearance. You can combine a corner lip lift with a bullhorn or gullwing lip lift for improved overall results.
Italian Lip Lift
An Italian lip lift is another option to make lips larger without fillers. It involves smaller incisions compared to central and bullhorn lip lifts. An Italian lip lift involves 2 small incisions; one under each nostril. Skin is cut out, and the lip is lifted and pulled up.
Central Lip Lift
A central lip lift is another surgical procedure to make the lips appear bigger. It involves a single incision right under the nose. It’s a smaller incision, compared to bullhorn and gullwing lip lifts. This type of lip lift gives more focus to the middle part of the upper lip. It lifts it and rolls it out, giving it more prominence.
In most cases, a lip lift can be done in the clinic. A hospital stay may not be required. You can go back home soon after surgery.
Recovery After Lip Lift Surgery
Recovery after getting an upper lip lift is usually straightforward. Symptoms include slight bruising, lip swelling, pain, and numbness. The intensity will peak at day 2-3 and will then gradually start decreasing.
You can go to work 1-2 days after your lip lift surgery. Gently resume physical activity over time. However, it’s recommended that you avoid contact sports when recovering (risk of trauma). You can eat and drink normally, however, it might be a little uncomfortable the first couple of days. Your sutures need to be removed after 5-7 days (unless they are dissolvable sutures).
Your surgeon’s team will give you specific post op instructions and aftercare tips after your lip lift procedure.
Lip Lifting vs Lip Fillers?
Lip fillers are an alternative option to help provide a fuller appearance of the lips. Here are some common reasons why patients choose lip lift over non-surgical filler:
- They are temporary – you will need fillers every 4-6 months to keep the desired look
- Injections can be painful for some people
- Although generally safe, getting frequent injections means more likelihood of complications
- Costs can build up with recurrent injections
A surgical upper lip lift is considered as a long-lasting option. It’s a procedure that you only need to undergo once.
Real Patient Results for Upper Lip Lift Surgery
The outcomes shown are only relevant for this patient and do not necessarily reflect the results other patients may experience, as results may vary due to many factors including the individual’s genetics, diet and exercise.
Download Dr Hunt's Guide
Facial Procedures Guide
The facial procedures guide has been created by Dr Hunt and his team as a useful tool to help you plan and consider these procedures.
Throughout the guide, we will discuss the ins and outs of different types of surgery what makes a suitable candidate, pre-surgery planning answers to the most frequently asked questions received from patients.
Considering Lip Lift Surgery?
How long does a lip lift last?
A lip lift has long-lasting results – it is regarded as a permanent change and hence must be done by an experienced plastic surgeon.
Is a lip lift painful?
Lip lifting is not particularly painful. Routine painkillers are usually enough to control pain after a lip lift.
Does a lip lift change your nose?
A lip lift does not change the shape of your nose. Nevertheless, by changing the size of the lips and the philtrum, the whole proportions of your face will change. It will change the relative appearance of your nose and how it matches the rest of the face.
Does it change your smile?
Yes. A lip lift can reduce your grin and help tp provide slightly more space between the lips at rest and when you smile. It can help to curve up the outer edges of your smiling lips.
Is it risky?
Few risks are involved in a lip lift procedure. Wound infection, bleeding, nerve injury, and unsatisfactory results are some of the possible rare complications. These will be covered in detail by your surgeon during the consultation.
All surgical procedures carry risks, it is important to understand any inherent risks prior to your surgery.
Do lip lifts look natural?
The aim of a lip lift is to create a subtle and natural look.
How long does a lip lift procedure take?
A lip lift procedure usually takes 20-30 minutes to perform.
Can a lip lift be reversed?
No, but it could be revised. A lip lift is regarded as permanent and cannot be reversed. Lip lifting involves removing a tiny piece of skin, which is non-reversible. This is why you must be sure of your cosmetic goals and surgeon.
Can you drive home after lip lift?
You will need to arrange for someone responsible to take you home after lip lifting. You might be given sedative medications that would hinder your ability to drive. This person should also support you at home early in the recovery.
How long does it take for a lip lift scar to fade?
Scars usually mature over 6-12 months. The lip lift scar is well hidden in the folds of the nose. In 1-2 months, the scar will be much less prominent. By 6-12 months, it generally fades away and is barely noticeable.
Can you get a lip lift without surgery?
You can get a non-surgical lip lift using dermal fillers. The downside of fillers is that they are temporary. You will need fillers about every 4-6 months as the area is very active.
How long do stitches stay in after lip lift?
Stitches stay 5-7 days after a lip lift.
Can you talk after lip lift surgery?
Yes. You can normally talk, eat, and drink after lip lift surgery.
What are the Complications and Risks of Lip Lift Surgery?
As with any other procedure, lip lift involves some rare complications, such as:
- Wound infection
- Nerve injury
- Unsatisfactory results
To reduce the risk of complications and get the best out of your lip lift procedure, make sure you choose an experienced plastic surgeon.
Further Reading & Medical Sources
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