Everything to Know About Lip Lifts — the Permanent Way to Get a Fuller Pout

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Lip enhancement treatments are a dime a dozen. In-office, lip filler injections and lip flips are fool-proof options for achieving a fuller pout for months at a time. At home, your favorite lip plumper and over-lining your lips will boost their appearance for a day. However, neither of these options provide a permanent solution.

One treatment that will? Lip lifts.

This type of lip enhancement is the only permanent way to get fuller lips. So for those who want a one-and-done solution, getting a lip lift may be the right choice. However, this procedure involves more than a thin needle and some numbing cream — and there are also side effects and pricing to consider.

To understand what lip lifts fully entail, we tapped two board-certified plastic surgeons to share their knowledge. Their answers, below.

What is a lip lift?

For starters, unlike other types of lip enhancements, a lip lift involves a surgical procedure. "[It] removes some skin under the nose in order to shorten the skin of the upper lip and also increase the amount of pink lip seen," explains Theda C. Kontis, MD, a Facial Plastic Surgeon and President, American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS).

While people of any age can get a lip lift, it's particularly beneficial for people who have visible signs of aging. "As we age, we lose bone under the nose, which can cause the nasal tip to droop and the upper lip to elongate; in other words, 'the table becomes too small for the tablecloth,'" she adds. "By removing this excess upper lip skin, it everts the upper lip and gives a more youthful appearance."

As this is surgical, the results are permanent. With that said, as you age your face will too — that's universal for any type of cosmetic surgery. Price-wise, it can run anywhere between $2,000 and $3,500, but it will ultimately depend on your geographical location and your surgeon's experience level.

What happens during a lip lift procedure?

Mark Hamilton, MD, a Board-Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon and Chair of Public Relations Committee at AAFPRS, says the process first begins with a consultation with a facial plastic surgeon. "Your facial plastic surgeon will evaluate your anatomy, listen to your goals, and create a plan to reach those," he explains.

If you're a candidate, the procedure can be done with either local or general anesthesia depending on your needs and wants. "The surgeon determines the amount of skin that needs to be excised, and draws the excision that looks like a 'bullhorn' under the nose," explains Dr. Kontis. "The skin is removed, and the defect closed so the scar is placed cosmetically right under the base of the nose, and the scar is (hopefully) imperceptible."

Dr. Hamilton says that recovery is pretty mild, adding that stitches come out in a week, and both swelling and bruising are generally gone within two. After then, makeup should be able to cover any scarring until it fully matures a few months later.

What are the benefits of getting a lip lift?

For starters, this is the only permanent option. "In the right candidate, a lip lift can create a more natural, longer lasting enhancement of the upper lip," says Dr. Hamilton. "While we cannot stop aging of the lip, this is the closest procedure we have to a 'permanent' correction."

What are the potential side effects of getting a lip lift?

The biggest risks are scarring, asymmetry, and how it may affect your dental show. "With careful planning and good surgical technique, this should become almost imperceptible," says Dr. Hamilton regarding scarring, and adds that injections or light dermabrasion could be done to soften their appearance. If performed incorrectly, the patient could end up with an asymmetric look — this is why it's so important to do your research, consult with a few doctors, and ask all your questions before your appointment. Lastly, he says a lip lift does create more show to your teeth when you have a relaxed expression and are not smiling. "It takes planning and good surgical technique to create a result that looks rejuvenated and not unnatural. Correction of too much dental show can be a challenge," he concludes.

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