Types of Lip Lift Surgeries: Which Procedure is Ideal for Your Desired Results?

Posted by Andre Panossian, MD

When considering types of lip lift surgeries, Dr. Andre Panossian can help you determine which procedure is best suited for your desired results.

Lip reshaping surgeries have become an increasingly popular way to enhance the appearance of the mouth and contribute to the overall aesthetic balance of the face.

Aging often results in elongation of the top lip, downturned corners of the mouth, and loss of lip volume.

Lip lift surgery addresses these issues by raising the upper lip towards the nose, restoring a more youthful look.

Overview of Lip Lifts

A lip lift is a cosmetic procedure that alters the appearance of the lips by raising the upper lip towards the nose. The procedure shortens the philtrum (the space between the nose and the upper lip), which tends to elongate with age. This allows the vermillion, or colored part of the upper lip, to become more visible, often creating a fuller and more youthful appearance.

The Anatomy of the Upper Lip

It is helpful to understand the anatomy of the upper lip when considering a lip lift procedure.

The upper lip is composed of several key structures, and altering them plays a significant role in various lip lift techniques:

  • The vermillion is the colored part of the lip.
  • The philtrum is the space between the nose and the upper lip.
  • Cupid’s bow, which is the “M” shaped double curve that divides the upper lip into the central and lateral parts.

Aging can cause the philtrum to elongate and the vermillion to retract, covering the upper teeth and leading to a less youthful appearance. A lip lift can address these issues, enhancing the overall appearance of the lips and mouth.

Types of Lip Lift Surgeries

There are various types of lip lift surgeries, each designed to address specific aesthetic goals. Each one also has its own advantages and considerations.

Central Lip Lift

During a central lip lift, a small incision is made at the base of the nose. A segment of skin is removed from the central area, and the upper lip is then lifted and sutured to elevate the middle portion, shortening the philtrum and exposing more of the vermilion. This technique gives the appearance of fuller lips but does not emphasize the sides of the mouth. 

Subnasal Lip Lift

Similar to the central lift, the subnasal lift also lifts the skin directly under the nose. However, unlike central lip lift surgery, the lift extends from the center to both sides of the lips. This bullhorn shape of the incision, going from one nostril to another, is what gives it the alternate names “bullhorn lip lift” or “subnasal bullhorn lift.”  One benefit of this technique is that the scar is typically hidden by the nostrils. 

Corner Lip Lift

The corner lip lift specifically targets the outer corners of the mouth. It is designed to address the area where the upper and lower lips meet, known as the oral commissure, which may become downturned as part of the aging process.  This gives patients a chronically stern, severe, and frowning expression. Lifting these corners gives patients a happier, more approachable appearance.

Direct Lip Lift

A direct lip lift, or gullwing lift, is used to create a larger, more defined vermillion and lip border, as well as reduce the size of the philtrum. With this procedure, a small strip of skin just above the upper lip is carefully removed. Subsequently, the upper lip is lifted and then sutured to close the space created by the excised skin. This type of lift can leave a visible scar along the lip’s natural line, so it’s typically not preferred by surgeons.

Italian Lip Lift

The Italian lip lift is known for providing a more subtle lift compared to other lip lift techniques. The main goal of Italian lifts is to create a natural, youthful, and balanced look by shortening the space between the nose and the upper lip. This can help eliminate thinness in the upper lip and enhance the cupid’s bow. Instead of one longer incision, this technique uses a small incision under each nostril so the small scars are well hidden. 

Potential Risks and Complications

Every surgical procedure carries certain risks and complications, and lip lift surgeries are no exception. Some potential complications may include infection, bleeding, poor wound healing, unfavorable scarring, and asymmetry. Changes in skin sensation or complications with anesthesia may also occur. Choosing an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon can decrease the risk of these complications.

How to Choose the Ideal Lip Lift Procedure?

The ideal lip lift procedure varies from person to person, depending on their anatomy, desired results, and the surgeon’s preferred technique. A comprehensive consultation with a qualified facial plastic surgeon can help determine which type of lip lift is most suitable for you.

During the consultation, the surgeon will carefully examine your facial anatomy, including the structures of your lips, philtrum, and the relationship between the nose and upper lip. You will also have a chance to discuss your specific aesthetic objectives, such as increased vermilion display, defining the lip shape, or enhancing the overall lip proportion.

Following this assessment, the surgeon will offer recommendations on the most appropriate lip lift technique that aligns with your goals and ensures a harmonious and natural-looking result.

Alternative Procedures to Lip Lifts

While lip lift surgeries can provide significant improvement in the appearance of the lips, they are not the only option for lip augmentation.

For those who are not ideal candidates for cosmetic surgery or simply prefer non-surgical options, alternatives such as lip fillers are available.

Lip fillers, which typically consist of hyaluronic acid or other biocompatible materials, provide a non-invasive method to enhance the lip border, add volume, and improve lip contours.

However, the effects of lip fillers are temporary, typically lasting several months to a year, depending on the type of filler used and individual metabolism. Consequently, touch-up treatments are often required to sustain and prolong the enhanced appearance of the lips.

Consult with a Facial Plastic Surgeon

If you are considering a lip lift, it is important to consult with a facial plastic surgeon who has experience with these procedures.

Dr. Andre Panossian in Pasadena will give you a comprehensive consultation and provide you with a clear understanding of the procedure, potential risks, and complications.

At the consultation, you will learn whether or not you are a good candidate for a lip lift procedure and which technique is ideal for you. To schedule your lip lift consultation, please contact us at 626-765-6885.

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