A lip lift procedure can provide long term rejuvenation of the aged upper lip or improve the upper lip appearance in patients born with naturally thin lips. A lip lift creates a fuller, poutier upper lip and decreases the distance from the lip to the nose.
Unfortunately the upper lip tends to elongate with age leading to a longer “white lip” and a thinner “red lip”. In severe cases this can make the upper lip look somewhat “ape-like” or Simian. This lengthening is due to gravity and a loss of skin and muscle elasticity resisting the gravity. Genetic factors and lifelong sun exposure play a role in skin elasticity.
Lip rejuvenation and augmentation remains a very popular facial plastic surgery procedure. A survey by the American Academy of Facial and Reconstructive Surgery in 2014 found that lip augmentation was one of the most common facial plastic procedures performed.
A lip lift avoids the need for lip implants or lip filler injections. These are alternative treatments to this area.
The procedure shortens the “white lip” and enlarges the “red lip”. It can also be used to shorten a long lip which is hanging over the upper teeth and obscuring them. It is a frequent add on procedure when performing a facelift but can also be performed as an independent procedure.
A lip lift can be performed in both younger and older patients.
Bullhorn lip lift
The most famous and successful type of lip lift procedure is the Bullhorn lip lift. This involves placing a small incision just under the nose and removing a strip of skin in the shape of a bull horn. The skin excision can be designed to different lengths and can remove more from either side portions or central portion if needed to improve symmetry. I typically ask patients to lift the upper lip themselves to demonstrate the desired position and how much teeth show they would like.
The procedure can be done under local anaesthesia but in Australia is usually performed under general anaesthesia for the best results and for patient comfort. The surgeon needs to be obsessive about very precise markings to ensure the highest likelihood of symmetry across the lip. Two layers of stitches are used. The deeper layer of sutures dissolve. Surgery typically takes around 60 minutes. The superficial stitches are removed after 1 week. Post-operative discomfort is usually minimal.
When planning the surgery typically 4-5mm of skin is removed. This can range from 3 to 8mm. A normal vermillion to nose length is 13-14mm. In patients seeking a more stylised look, it may be set at 11-12mm. A very pouty upper lip would be achieved at 10mm.
To learn more about a lip lift procedure, please schedule a consultation with Dr Roth.