Lip Lift

The lip lift slightly lifts the upper lip such that the patient has a more pleasing expression.

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What is a Lip Lift?

by Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez

A Lip Lift is a procedure that elevates the position of the lip to giving a more youthful and relaxed smile. Candidates for the procedure include patients with these symptoms:

  • their teeth do not show when they smile
  • long space greater than 1.5 cm  between the nose and the vermillion border of upper lip
  • thin flat lips
  • permanent frown

Is there more than one type of Lip Lift?

Yes, there are two types of Lip Lifts:

  1. Upper Lip Lift shortens the skin distance that is between the upper lip and the base of the nose. This increases amount of pink lip that is seen, exposes the teeth more, and gives the patient fuller, youthful lips.
  2. Corner Lip Lift involve only the edges of your mouth and is designed for the patient who feels as though they have a permanent frown.

    The Upper Lip Lift is more common than the Corner Lip Lift, but if a patient is also concerned about a permanent frown expression, two procedures may be performed together or separately.

My upper lip covers my teeth too much and I want my upper lip to look fuller

a New York patient

Who benefits most from an Upper Lip Lift?

Patients of all ages can benefit from the Upper Lip Lift procedure. Some of us are born with naturally long upper lips. Other people acquire this look with  age.   No matter what your age, this procedure is designed to shorten the space above the upper lip . Even patients in their twenties can benefit from this procedure.

As we age, all the bones of the body (including the face) retract and diminish allowing the flesh of the face to hang more. The soft tissue and fat of the face undergo atrophy so the skin itself also falls. The aged upper lip is characterized by a thin or non-existent vermilion (the pink lip part) and a smile that does not show the teeth. The ideal youthful lip is full and slightly pouting. The pink part of the lip should ideally be 1/3 to 1/2 the volume of the mustache area in general.

 If your lips are not full and you have a long space above your lip,  you will likely benefit from this procedure.

Before & After Upper Lip Lift Photos

before and after lip lift photoOver the past decade, I have performed hundreds of Upper Lip Lift Procedures. See our entire lip lift gallery to see my patients' before and after photos to help determine if this procedure might be right for you. Please note that all  patients featured in our gallery have given their written consent to use their photos on our website. We are very grateful to them for participating in patient education!

Can Lips be lifted with fillers?

The most common question I get is if  lips can be lifted with fillers.  Patients ask, "Can Juvederm or Restylane lift my lips instead of surgery?"  The answer is yes, but only sometimes. If the space above your upper lift is too long and you inject fillers, the filler will push the lip out instead of up! This results in duck lips.

Fillers are great for augmenting the lip, but they will not lift the lip in the same capacity as a lip lift. In fact, the use of fillers can sometimes exaggerate a long upper lip and give the appearance of duck lips!

The elongated space between the nose and the top of the lip can only be shortened with the Lip Lift procedure. This is the only way to get a permanent lifting of the lips. Additionally the Upper Lip Lift produces a more youthful shape to the lips. See me discuss the lip lift in more detail in my Lip Augmentation, Duck Lips, and Lip Lifts blog post.

To better understand why some women seem to get duck lips as a result of lip augmentation, watch my YouTube video. Beautiful lips are identified by a nice cupid's bow and having the right amount of space between your upper lip and your nose. Find out whether you need a lip augmentation or a lip lift by watching this video.

How is the Upper Lift Lift performed?

The lip lift procedure is performed in the office under local anesthesia.   IV anesthesia is not required as the procedure is well tolerated by only numbing the area.   I perform the Upper Lip Lift by excising only skin at the base of the nose.  I do not cut muscles or nerves, as I believe that these facial elements should remain in their natural state.  For the procedure, an incision is placed directly beneath the nose and a small strip of skin and tissue is removed. The lip is elevated to its new position exposing about 1/8" of teeth and permanently increasing the volume of the pink part of the lip. The procedure takes about ninety minutes. After the procedure, you may leave the office and go home to recover.

The result of the lip lift is a more youthful and pleasant shape to the mouth and lips. The teeth will show more and the patient almost always looks happier and relaxed.

How much skin is removed in the Upper Lip Lift procedure?

The ideal length of the space between your nose and the vermillion border of the upper lip is 1.2-1.5 cm.  Therefore I  remove the amount of skin which is greater than this amount, and is customized to the individual patient. As mentioned above, I remove only skin in order to lift your Upper Lip. I do not cut muscles or nerves, as I do not believe in upsetting the integrity of the nerves or muscles.  I believe cutting muscles or nerves introduces an added dimension of complexity and risk , which is absolutely not necessary to achieve a fuller, more youthful lips!  You can read more about my skin only technique on my blog. I have been performing the skin only technique my entire career and I have been very happy with my patient's results.

The Upper lip lift procedure is customized for each individual.  Prior to starting the procedure, we discuss the amount of tissue to be removed which will lift your lip to the most youthful state.  Based on your input,  I make the surgical markings above your upper lip.   There are no surprises, as it all discussed in front of a mirror together. Therefore, prior to starting the surgery, you will know exactly what amount of skin will be removed. 

What is the cost of the Upper Lip Lift procedure?

The cost is $2850 and the procedure is performed in the office. No pre-op testing is required. Financing is available. Please see our finance section or call the office for more information.

How is the Corner Lip Lift performed?

The Corner Lip Lift is also an out patient procedure, and no pre-op testing is required. The edges of the mouth are lifted slightly with dissolvable sutures. Like the Upper Lip Lift procedure, I only lift skin and do not touch muscles or nerves. To learn more about this procedure please read my blog post on Smile Surgery .

What is the cost of the Corner Lip Lift procedure?

The cost is $2000 and is performed in the office. The Corner Lip Lift can be performed at the same time as the Upper Lip Lift Procedure.

How long Is Lip Lift Recovery?

For either type of Lip Lift soft foods should be eaten for the first few days. You may return to work 3-4 days after surgery.  The sutures that I use are dissolvable, so you do not have to return to the office to have them removed.   Swelling will go down dramatically within 1-2 weeks. By the end of one month, the majority of all swelling will be gone.  

Out of Town Lip Lift Patients

Many patients fly in from all over the world to have a lip lift with Dr. Rodriguez. Out of town patients usually start with a Virtual Consultation to find out if you are a candidate for the procedure. Ideally, out of town patients plan for a total two or three night stay in Baltimore, so that I may see you in the office post operatively.  Most patients fly into Baltimore the day before procedure and fly home the day after surgery.  If you are traveling from out of the country, I will provide a letter documenting your scheduled surgical date for the purpose of Visa application. Our office will provide transportation to and from the airport for the procedure. Please call the office 410-494-8100 for more information.

doctor's signatureUpdated September 26, 2013
by Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez
Board Certified Plastic Surgery