Lip shortening, or more commonly known as an upper lip lift, is primarily sought out by patients who are unhappy with the space between their upper lip and nose. Another reason someone might seek an upper lip lift is to help correct turned down corners of the mouth or a permanent frown, however, this procedure has its own set of issues and potential problems. Regardless of the reason if you are interested in lip shortening, it is essential to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon who has experience in this particular procedure.
Who Would Benefit From Lip Shortening?
Patients of all ages and ranges can benefit from lip shortening. The ideal space between the lip and the nose varies with gender. However, for females 1.0-1.2 cm is optimal, and in men, 1.3-1.3 cm is considered optimal. Some people are just naturally born with an excessive amount of upper lip space. Others seek to restore a more youthful look as the lips begin to sag with aging. No matter how you acquired the extra space between your nose and lip, you may be a candidate.
How is Lip Shortening Performed?
Depending on whether overall lip shortening or just the corners of the mouth are to be corrected will determine the exact procedure. Typically lip shortening is performed in the office with a local analgesic or in the operating room with IV sedation. The lidocaine is injected directly into the area to be treated. With true upper lip shortening, a small incision is made in the superficial tissue found just below the nose at the base. A predetermined length of tissue is then excised (removed) to achieve the desired lip area measurement. The previous incision is then sutured together, and due to the tissue that is removed, the upper lift is then lifted.
The corner lip lift should only be done in highly selective patients as the scars can be visible even if performed through small incisions made at the upward corner on each side of the lip. The skin is tightened on either side of the lips to turn that frown upside down. Often referred to as the smile surgery, however, it is very important to only trust this procedure to someone who truly knows what they are doing, if not you may end up looking clownish.
What Should I Expect Before and After the Procedure?
When consulting with your board-certified plastic surgeon, it will be determined if you will benefit from upper lip shortening. During this consultation, the amount of area to be removed, the cost, and the recovery will be discussed with you. The procedure can be completed under local vs. IV sedation anesthesia instead of general if done as a separate procedure only, and the risks with anesthesia are minimal in healthy patients.
After the procedure, you should expect to go home and rest. Overuse of the lips, i.e., excessive talking, foods that require lots of chewing, drinking through a straw, or smoking should be avoided for the first few days. You should expect some swelling and tightness to the lip area for the first few weeks post procedure; however, you may return to work within a few days after surgery. You should expect swelling to slowly dissipate over the course of several weeks and be gone entirely within a month.
A partnership with an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon who is an expert in the field can be your greatest asset to fighting off the natural aging process. For your safety, we cannot stress the importance of discussing your skincare goals with a board-certified plastic surgeon who understands facial symmetry and can determine whether noninvasive procedures or invasive surgical procedures will be required to achieve your desired results.
Dr. Rod J. Rohrich is an internationally known, highly respected and skilled plastic and cosmetic surgeon from Dallas, Texas. He is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and has led most of the key professional organizations in plastic surgery in the USA. He has received numerous honors and awards in plastic and cosmetic surgery, both nationally and internationally. In addition to his extensive surgical expertise and talent as a gifted surgeon, he is the Founding Chair and Distinguished Teaching Professor of Plastic Surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center. He has authored hundreds of innovative academic publications in the field and he also serves as the Editor in Chief of the leading plastic and reconstructive surgery journal, the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Dr. Rohrich has also performed philanthropic work as a civic leader of organizations such as the March of Dimes, American Cancer Society and Save the Children and has established the Rod J. Rohrich, M.D. Foundation, which supports medical students in his native North Dakota. He is also a founding member and President of AiRS, the Alliance in Reconstructive Surgery, which serves to support education and reconstructive surgery for breast cancer survivors, regardless of financial status. Dr. Rohrich has repeatedly been featured as one of the best plastic surgeons in the country by US News and World Report, Harper’s Bazaar, Good Housekeeping and Texas Monthly as well as being quoted in notable publications such as the New York Times and Boston Globe. He has appeared on many television shows including Oprah, the View, and Good Morning America and is currently working to provide a reliable source of public-centered information in the fields of plastic and cosmetic surgery as well as other areas of medicine.