A lip lift, sometimes called a “subnasal” lift or “bullhorn” lift, is a procedure that shortens the distance between the base of the nose and the vermillion border (lipstick line) of the upper lip. As the face ages, the upper lip can become longer, droopy-looking, or stretched out. This ages the mouth area and changes the balance of the upper, middle, and lower third of the face on both front and profile views. The upper teeth also don’t show as much with the lips gently parted in repose or when smiling. Instead, only the bottom teeth show, creating an aged, sometimes ill or angry appearance.
While injectable fillers can efficiently plump the lips, they are unable to shorten an overly long upper lip. In fact, when the upper lip has lengthened beyond the bottom edge of the top teeth, it seems to roll in and “disappear”, regardless of how much filler is placed. Many such patients report that filler “doesn’t last” in their upper lip.
During a lip lift, the excess upper lip length is shortened by removing a strip of skin just under the nose and nostrils. The gap is meticulously closed in layers, lifting the lip. The result is a shortened upper lip, showing more red lip. The red lip appears more “turned out”, instead of “rolled in” under the teeth. More upper tooth show can also be expected. The central portion of the upper lip is the most improved while less effect is seen toward the sides of the upper lip. No lift or improvement is achieved at the corners of the mouth with this operation.
The procedure may be performed awake, under local anesthesia as a standalone procedure, or asleep in combination with facelifting or other surgical procedures. It is especially powerful as an add-on to a facelift or face/neck lift. Patients age 45+, with light/fair skin, are the best candidates and can expect the final, healed incision line to be minimal. Younger patients, or patients with darker, thicker, or oilier skin, are more likely to heal with visible incision lines that may or may not fade well enough over time.
Sutures are removed at the one week mark, and the incision line may typically be covered with makeup at that point. Final incision line healing and shape results require many months. Results are semi-permanent, lasting many, many years.