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Lip Lift

A lip lift, also called a bullhorn or subnasal lift, is a surgical procedure that involves removing a small strip of skin under your nose to raise your top lip. This also rolls it slightly, making it look larger, fuller, and more defined. A lip lift offers a permanent way to enhance naturally thin lips or lips that are both thinning and sagging due to age. (As we get older, the skin between the bottom of the nose and the top of the upper lip—an area referred to as the philtrum—lengthens, which can make your lips appear smaller and lower on your face.) A lip lift also exposes more of the upper teeth, which can make you look younger. 

What it is

A permanent surgical procedure to increase the amount of pink lip you see, helping lips look youthful and full. 

What It Does

Unlike an augmentation procedure where volume is the primary concern, a lip lift redefines the lip by surgically recreating a new contour. This procedure focuses on reshaping the “Cupid’s bow” (the two distinct peaks on the upper lip) by correcting the distance between the base of the nose and the upper lip.

​Solution for

  • Thin lips

  • Sagging 

  • Loss of volume and elasticity 

  • Signs of aging

Cost

Average prices for a lip lift surgery are between $8,000 and $12,000 depending on the type of lift and your surgeon’s location and expertise. The overall price typically includes the surgical facility fee, anesthesia, post-op care, and the surgeon’s fee, so there shouldn’t be any hidden costs.

During the procedure

Prior to the surgery, your doctor will draw a wavy ellipsis shape, resembling bullhorns (this shape is also sometimes likened to a mustache or angel wings), right under your nostrils, outlining where he or she is going to cut and remove skin. The larger the piece removed, the greater your lift will be. The entire procedure takes about an hour, once the marking is complete.

Lidocaine will be injected to numb the area, so you should feel no pain during the procedure. Your surgeon will cut along the outline, remove the bullhorn, and anchor the remaining skin at the base of the nose, suspending your top lip and instantly shortening the philtrum.

After the procedure

Most people return to work after about seven days. You can expect the incision to be red or swollen for a week to 10 days afterward, and you might have some bruising around your mouth. Your doctor will likely advise you to apply cold compresses, take over-the-counter pain meds as necessary, clean the incision with diluted hydrogen peroxide, and apply an antibiotic ointment twice daily for one week. You’ll also need to refrain from smoking and excessive chewing for two weeks. To improve comfort during the initial healing period, your doctor may also recommend that you sleep on two or three pillows, to keep your head elevated.

After a week, your stitches will be removed, the worst of the swelling should have gone down, and you should be able to cover the scar with makeup. The swelling and redness of the scar should get better week by week, and it should disappear almost entirely in about three months. Scar tissue takes longer to flatten, but it will get smoother over time. Some patients will need steroid injections during recovery to ensure good healing. Your doctor may have applied a surgical glue to the incision area to protect the sutures and reduce the risk of infection. It’s best to let it peel away on its own, so try to avoid picking at it or attempting to remove surgical glue yourself.

If you notice a change in sensation near your scar, talk to your doctor. Several patients say they lost feeling in their lips or had trouble speaking after a lip lift. Generally, this is temporary. 

Side Effects

  • Numbness

  • Stiffness

  • Pain

  • Parasthesia

  • Lip distortion

  • Lip lengthening

  • Smile deformation

  • Speech impediment

  • Visible scarring

What Could Go Wrong

  • Infection

  • Fluid accumulation (seroma)

  • Wound separation

  • Abnormal scarring

  • Loss of sensation

  • Dissatisfaction with the aesthetic results

Successful lip lift surgeries take place daily, but the potential for certain side effects exist, as with any surgery. The risk of infection, unpleasant results, the separation of a wound and scarring are all possibilities.

To avoid certain unexpected results, men are advised to receive electrolysis on the skin that may display hair in an unexpected location after the lip lift. Patients who have prominent philtral columns, which are the two mountain-like peaks of skin running diagonally beneath the nostrils, may need to have their flaps thinned to prevent an unnatural appearance of a cleft lip or a philtral extension into the nose. A loss of sensation, blood clots, and the accumulation of fluids are all potential side effects of lip lift surgery.

The best way to minimize your lip lift risks and ensure a smooth recovery is to select a board-certified plastic surgeon with experience performing these and other lip enhancement procedures. 

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following

  • Shortness of breath

  • Chest pain

  • An unusual heart rate

  • Bleeding

  • Vision problems

Long Term Results

Lips will look fuller immediately after a lip lift, but the final effect will not show until all of the swelling, bruising, and scarring settle down—usually in about three months.

the area will continue to age along with the rest of your face. In general, the philtrum will still slowly elongate with time—and a revision lip lift may be needed, years down the road.