Lips, lips, lips. For years—especially since the increased popularity of selfies and Instagram—women and men have focused on creating perfectly plump lips that have just the right fullness. Injectable fillers have been the treatment of choice for lip enhancement at my plastic surgery practice in the Los Angeles area. More recently, however, more attention is being paid to the shape of the upper lip.
Lip lift surgery—a procedure very few people had even heard of a few years ago—is now often asked for by name at my practice. The number of lip lift procedures performed in the U.S. has increased by about 10% in just the past few years, according to statistics compiled by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). And the popular RealSelf website reports that actual patients ranked lip lifts as one of the “most worth it” treatments in 2020.
What Is a Lip Lift?
An upper lip lift is a highly customizable, minimally invasive surgical procedure that removes a very small strip of skin from under the nose. This reduces the space between the upper lip and the nose and lifts the lip slightly to expose more of the vermilion (the red part of the lip), improving the shape and overall contour in a way that looks natural.
Who Is a Good Candidate for a Lip Lift?
Even though the popularity of lip lift surgery has greatly increased in the past few years, the procedure isn’t new. Plastic surgeons have used it for years on older patients, often combined with facelift surgery, because the space between our nose and lips typically increases as we age. This gives the upper lip a thinner and less well-defined appearance.
Some individuals, though, are born with more distance between the upper lip and the nose and can benefit from the surgery at a younger age. People often wonder if a couple of millimeters between your upper lip and nose really make much difference in your overall appearance.
It can, as you can see in this video I recently posted to my Instagram page featuring one of my actual patients. The shorter distance between her lip and nose lifts the lip slightly so that her teeth are a bit more visible, and her smile is more attractive.
What Are the Benefits of Lip Lift Surgery?
One of the primary benefits of getting lip lift surgery is that it creates a permanent change instead of having to schedule maintenance injections. Because the change is permanent, it’s important to choose a highly qualified plastic surgeon who has experience performing lip lifts.
The other perks of the procedure include:
- It’s performed in the plastic surgeon’s office using a local anesthetic.
- It enhances the shape of the upper lip, rather than adding volume, so you don’t have to worry about results that look overly augmented.
- It exposes slightly more of your teeth, an appearance that is considered more youthful.
Even though the procedure involves making an incision, the scar is virtually imperceptible. Again, this is true when the surgeon is skilled and meticulously closes the incision. In the case featured on the Instagram post, the patient is shown 3 months after the procedure, and it’s essentially impossible to see a scar.
How Is a Lip Lift Performed?
I truly enjoy performing lip lifts because the results are powerful and look so natural. I begin the procedure by marking where I’ll make the incision just below the nose. I can customize the surgery by removing as much or as little of the skin as needed to create the desired lift. Studies have shown the ideal distance between the lip and the nose, and I base my surgical plan on each patient’s measurements.
I numb the area with lidocaine before making the incision so patients remain comfortable throughout the procedure. After removing the skin, I close the incision at the nostrils. The entire procedure typically takes about an hour. You can see results featuring some of my actual patients in our gallery of before-and-after photos.
What Is Recovery Like After a Lip Lift?
I tell my patients who work outside the home that they should probably plan on taking about a week off. Redness, swelling, and bruising typically last for 7 to 10 days. Over-the-counter medication and cold compresses adequately manage post-operative discomfort. You may notice some numbness in your upper lip, but that resolves on its own.
How Much Does a Lip Lift Cost?
The cost of a lip lift, as with any elective cosmetic surgery, varies depending on a number of factors. Because the procedure involves a local anesthetic, there isn’t a fee for an anesthesiologist or an operating room fee. We provide patients with a detailed price quote after their consultations, which they can take home and review if they wish. We also offer financing options for patients who qualify.
Are There Lip Lift Alternatives?
If you’re not sure that surgery is the right decision for you, nonsurgical lip lift options can create temporary results. BOTOX® injections, for example, relax the muscles in the upper lip and create a poutier appearance. Results typically last up to 3 months. This BOTOX procedure is sometimes called a “lip flip.” Dermal fillers such as JUVÉDERM® and Restylane® are used to augment the lips, and a skilled injector can create a subtle lift with these fillers. Again, these are temporary results that require repeat injections to maintain.
If you’re curious about lip lift surgery in Los Angeles, contact us using the online form to request a personal consultation where we can discuss your options. You can also call our Marina del Rey office at (310) 300-1779 to schedule an appointment.