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One could argue that the new aesthetic procedure of lip lift is supposedly an answer to the woe that comes from an extreme form of self-scrutiny. Worrying about the length of philtrum? Isn’t that a result of an exaggerated self probe session that shouldn’t even be taken into account in the first place?

Surgical Lip Lift – Types,Cost & Side Effects!

If you ask me, I would agree. It is anatomy, why should we try to change something natural? But being self-conscious about my physical appearance (anatomy or not) is not new to me either. According to a survey, 1 in 5 American women expressed their intention of having some kind of cosmetic procedure soon(1). If that doesn’t explain the increasing popularity of lip lift and other procedures, I am not sure what will.

Surgical Lip Lift - Types,Cost & Side Effects

What Is A Lip Lift?

A lip lift is a surgical cosmetic procedure that changes the appearance of the lips by shortening the length of the philtrum(2). The small space between the base of your nose and the top of your upper lip is called the philtrum. This subtle and minimally invasive, in-office surgical procedure is different from lip enhancement, lip augmentation, and lip injections —fillers or lip implants.

What Is A Lip Lift

While these procedures result in a bee-stung look, a lip lift makes the lips appear fuller and pronounced. It is basically for individuals who want to, instead of volume, add height to their lips. Most importantly, unlike lip fillers, lip lift surgery is permanent. 

Why are more older women choosing a Lip Lift?

In the same survey mentioned above, it was revealed that about 85% of women aged 55 to 64 are not happy with at least one of their body parts. This contradicts the popular belief that dealing with issues of physical appearance is confined to only younger women. Now more than ever, older women are opting for cosmetic procedures. More so in the case of lip lift surgeries. Why are older women, in comparison with younger women, choosing lip lift surgeries?

Why are more older women choosing a Lip Lift

According to anatomy experts, there is an ideal measurement for the length of the philtrum. It is 11 to 13 millimeters for women and 13 to 15 millimeters for men. You may have been right in the measurement from the age you started caring for the length. But your age won’t be kind to you regarding the philtral length in the latter decades. This space can and most probably will expand to one to three millimeters every 10 years, for both genders.

This makes the lips appear thinner and flatter. Should you choose to care, the culprits you can blame are stretching ligaments and diminishing collagen along with others. So there is no surprise in more older women opting for lip lift surgeries. Then again, after repeatedly improper filling, younger women opt for lip lifts when fillers don’t suffice. 

What Causes Volume Loss And Elongation Of Lips?

The lips lose volume and lengthen over time. This could be a result of various reasons combined. As mentioned above, it can be because of the stretching muscles, maxillary and mandibular bone changes, or degeneration of the skin, perioral musculature, mucosa, and parenchymal glandular tissue, or attrition of the teeth.

Or it is because of the use of hyaluronic acid fillers(3). These reasons may make the lips droopy, making the lips hide the teeth. After a lip lift surgery, your lip may continue to lengthen but to a much lesser extent than normal. And the droopy lips will be lifted to show the central incisor teeth.

What is the outcome of a Lip Lift?

For younger women, the lips are generally shorter and plump. But it is not the same case for older women. Thinning lips are just another concern older women find difficulty in being apathetic about. Over time, the lips start to get thinner and decrease in volume while the upper lips start to elongate.

What is the outcome of a Lip Lift

With a lip lift surgery, the upper lips can be shortened and vermilion can be everted to result in a different kind of pout. A volumized pout nevertheless. Since lip fillers cannot benefit all lips, a lip lift may be beneficial to avoid the plastic appearance obtained with lip fillers. Or if the lips look unnaturally plump. Especially for younger women. 

Different Types Of Lip Lift Surgeries

As the name itself suggests, the surgery is about lifting the lips to enhance the appearance of the cupid’s bow or sagging areas around the mouth. There are a few different types of lip lifts you can choose from. It is essential to know which technique is right and suitable for you. They vary with the exact place of the incision, resulting in different outcomes with different methods.

Nonetheless, every type can certainly increase how much of your upper central teeth are shown when your lips are in repose. Because a certain amount of the central incisor teeth that show when the lips are at rest and teeth gum while smiling are apparently what is considered as attractive for a female. Unlike the procedures before with subpar results, the techniques given below provide much better results. Even though the procedure itself is subtle, the benefits are substantial. 

Direct Vermillion Lip Lift

Also known as gull-wing lip lift, a direct vermillion lip lift creates a more defined lip border. Vermilion is the pink-colored portion of your lips and the vermilion border is the line right above the colored portion that connects the lip tissue. The tissue there is thin with a lot of blood vessels. During the procedure, a thin strip of skin is removed from the area of excess skin —the upper lip and above.

Direct Vermillion Lip Lift

The skin there is pulled upward to create a more pronounced vermilion. The procedure is about increasing the amount of visible pink tissue and to reduce the white lip segments. But as it requires an incision on the edge of the upper lip, it will leave behind a scar that needs makeup to cover up. Also, the patient must have enough excess skin in the area for the lip lift to be as effective.

Subnasal Bullhorn

As the name itself suggests, the subnasal bullhorn lip lift is a common procedure that removes excess skin in the shape of a bull’s horn. Meaning, from the center, right, and left of the lip. The surgeon will make a small incision in the base of the nose —that is typically hidden and is less visible. After removing a curved-edge ellipse of tissue from the base of the nose, the underlying skin is pulled and lifted to be sutured with the tissue on top of the bones beneath the nostrils.

Subnasal Bullhorn

This will expose more of the upper lip vermilion and create a pouty lip. It can also make the upper teeth more visible when smiling. For those with long upper lips and longer philtrum, this procedure will be effective. This technically variant procedure is one of the indirect lip lifts. Along with this method, the patient can also opt for a corner lip lift to prevent the corners of the lip from being more droopy.

Central Lip Lift

Similar to a subnasal bullhorn lip lift, a central lip lift shortens the philtrum length by making an incision at the lower nose. Which in turn, increases the visibility of the upper vermilion and the upper incisor teeth(4).

Central Lip Lift

Corner Lip Lift

This procedure is also called a “grin lift” or “smile lift” because the surgery will leave a grinning appearance. It is specifically for people with corner edges of their lips curved downward with a look of sadness when lips are at repose. During the procedure, two small incisions are made at both corners of the mouth. Tiny portions of excess skin from the outward corners are removed in the shape of tiny triangles.

Corner Lip Lift

This can improve the drool groves —the angular lines that run downward from the corners to the jawline. The lenticular excision of the wedges of the skin removed from the oral commissures (corners of the mouth) will leave incision scars on each corner. This is particularly for people with downturned, frowning lips with droopy outer corners. And most patients choose this surgery along with subnasal bullhorn lift to contour the cupid’s bow and to get fuller lips. For younger women, corner lip lifts are best if they haven’t experienced extreme sagging in the corners.

Italian Lip Lift

An Italian lip lift is similar to a subnasal bullhorn lift, except for the place where the incisions are made. This procedure requires two smaller incisions below each nostril in crescent shapes. While the bullhorn lift is made with a longer incision, the Italian lift has two separate incisions from where the excess skin is removed.

Italian Lip Lift
© Dr. Chris Balinger

This procedure allows a lift that is more pronounced on the axis of the lips and the area beneath the nostrils. Since it doesn’t leave a noticeable scar, it is for the individuals who want less visible scars and a subtle lift.

Modified Upper Lip Lift

This is an advanced technique for the subnasal lip lift. Instead of removing excess skin from beneath the nose, the modified upper lip lift makes the incisions much deeper inside the nose’s mucosa. The scar that travels into the nose does not require a continuous incision of a bullhorn lip lift.

Modified Upper Lip Lift
© The Haworth Institute

This procedure also reduces the risk of the nostrils getting wider because of the incisions. Moreover, since the endonasal flaps are elevated, the scar won’t be in a position to move. 

How do you know if you are a good candidate?

The ideal candidates for the lip lift surgery include the following:

  • Individuals with longer than the ideal length of the philtrum, i.e., 1.5 cm and wants the excess space to be removed.
  • Who wants to change the downturned corners of their mouths.
  • People who want to have more lifted cupid’s bow and fuller lips.
  • Individuals who want to have a better balance between the upper and lower lips —in both shape and size.
  • Those who do not want lip enhancement with temporary dermal fillers.
  • People who want to see permanent and visible results immediately after surgery.
  • Healthy individuals who seek facial rejuvenation as a part of their feminization or masculinization procedures. 

You might not be an ideal candidate if:

  • The space between the base of your nose and upper lip is smaller than 1.5 cm.
  • Individuals are not willing to have a noticeable external scar (although the scars may be tiny and hidden).
  • The individual has any type of infection that may affect the mouth.
  • You are afflicted with lupus, diabetes, or any disease that can affect the blood’s ability to clot.
  • You are a smoker who cannot quit for a while before and after the lip lift surgery —as required. 

What are the possible side effects of a Lip Lift?

Although lip lift surgeries take place almost daily with successful results, the potential complications and possible side effects are inevitable. Like any other surgery. The possible side effects may include disruption of the nasal sill, the risk of infection, a loss of sensation, blood clots, unpleasant results, the separation of wound and scarring, and the accumulation of fluids.

The potential complications are scarring, poor wound healing, nerve damage, blood loss during or after the surgery, allergic reaction to anesthesia. Therefore, it is essential that you use a board-certified plastic surgeon to perform the procedure.

What is the Cost of Lip Lift Surgeries?

A lip lift procedure is not covered by insurance since it is an elective cosmetic procedure. The cost of the lip lift varies depending on the plastic surgeon and the place you live. The estimated cost lies somewhere between $2000 and $5000. But keep in mind that if you get additional augmentation along with the lip lift, the cost will be more.

Before You Go To The Surgeon

The most important factor you have to keep in mind is that a lip lift is done with a scalpel(5). Unlike a needle, the use of a scalpel is going to leave a permanent result. And it is not going anywhere anytime soon. If you are not that keen on going under a scalpel, it is always better to consider the safer choices.

Before You Go To The Surgeon

You can always make use of the great lip liners in the market to plump up your thinning lips. Besides, who says you have to do anything about the natural changes in the first place? The acceptance of letting the body parts naturally take control is certainly the new cool, and it doesn’t have to be just among millennials.