While most people are familiar with the use of dermal fillers for lip augmentation, fewer are familiar with lip lift surgery. A lip lift is a minimally invasive outpatient cosmetic surgery procedure that can help make the lips look fuller and more youthful. Lip lifts can also enhance the contour and shape of your lips and smile. Unlike dermal fillers, lip lift procedures can also reposition upper lips that have become elongated or sagging with natural aging.
There are 5 common types of lip lift procedures, each of which vary in their results and their level (degree) of invasiveness. In this post we will discuss the different types of lip lift techniques.
Common Types of Lip Lifts
Subnasal Bullhorn Lift
The subnasal bullhorn lift is named for the shape of its incision, which is located in the crease immediately below the nostrils, and extends from the outer right nostril to the outer left. The bullhorn lift is the most common type of lip lift performed today.
This lift removes skin from immediately below the nose and elevates the center and sides of the upper lip closer to the nose. The result creates a shorter distance from the nose to the red lip and results in a poutier upper lip. This shorter distance is a universal sign of beauty that is cross-cultural (just scan through any fashion magazine or Instagram and notice how short this distance is in most models). This lift is most popular because it reverses age-related lip lengthening that occurs as early as the 30’s in some patients, and that occurs in everyone after 50.
Because the incision is hidden in the shadowed crease immediately beneath the nose, it is the least visible of all types of lift lips.
Central Lip Lift
A central lip lift also uses a single incision at the base of the nose. The effects are similar to the subnasal bullhorn lift, whereby the space between the nose and upper lip is shortened to reveal a fuller upper lip. However, since it fails to lift to the side, it is not as versatile as the bullhorn lip lift.
Italian Lip Lift
The Italian Lip Lift differs from the bullhorn lift in terms of the incisions. Two separate and smaller incisions are made at the base of each nostril, versus one incision that extends across the base of the nose. This only allows for a subtle lift. The Italian Lift may, however, create more pronounced philtrum columns. These are the vertical raised lines which frame the upper lip’s central dip.
Direct Lip Lift / Gullwing Lift
This type of lip lift is performed by making an incision along the top contour of the upper lip, similar in shape to the wings of a flying gull. The direct lift removes excess skin from the area above the upper lip to create a more defined upper lip border which enhances the vermillion, the colored area of the lips. The distance between the nose and lips decreases.
This type of lift leaves a scar along the upper border of the lip, which can be hidden with makeup. It also tends to flatten the lip border, making it the least popular of all lip lifts.
Corner Lip Lift (Corner of Mouth Lift)
The corner lip lift differs from the above lifts in that it does not enhance the upper lip, but rather lifts the corners of the mouth. It is performed by making small incisions at the top outer corners of the mouth. A small, triangular shaped piece of skin is removed, which pulls the corners of the mouth slightly upwards.
This type of lip lift is used for those with sagging lip corners who are concerned their expression looks constantly sad or serious. The corner lift technique leaves small scars outside the vermillion at each corner of the mouth, which can be hidden with makeup.
Lip Lift Recovery and Risks
Immediately after your lip lift, your mouth will feel swollen and your lips may feel tight. Most swelling will diminish within the first week. Within a month, most swelling and bruising should be gone, but it can take up to six months for the lips to feel completely normal again and for the smile to be fully expressive.
Your lip lift will require stitches that will dissolve on their own or be removed by your doctor after the first week. There are deep dissolvable stitches placed to reduce tension along the incision and ensure the resultant scar is imperceptible.
As with all surgical procedures, there’s a risk of infection, wound separation, or unintended scarring. Closely following your doctor’s post-operative instructions will minimize these risks. Often, if the incisions are not healing well, your plastic surgeon may recommend additional ancillary procedures to insure an optimal result. These may include scar gels, steroid injections or laser treatments.
Choosing a lip lift depends upon the current anatomy of your lips, the shape and length of space between your upper lip and nose, and your desired results. Consult with a plastic surgeon or facial plastic surgeon with experience in this procedure to learn more about which lip lift is best for you.