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Surgical Lip lift: a great but underutilized procedure

Surgical Lip lift

In today’s fast paced field of cosmetic facial surgery lip enhancement is one of the hottest and most requested options. The most common lip augmentation procedures include injectable fillers, lip implants and unknown to many patients, subcutaneous lip lift.  This procedure is also called “subnasal lip lift”.

What is a “Lip Lift”?

A subcutaneous lip lift is a procedure where excess skin and muscle are removed from the upper lip, just under the nose.  This procedure is done for two reasons; first to shorten the aging lip and secondly to roll out the upper lip to provide pout.

Young patients have shorter, fuller and more pouty lips and as we age, the lip elongates and loses volume and pout.  In addition, upper lip excess can cover the front teeth in some patients giving them a “denture smile” where the teeth are hidden while speaking and smiling.  A surgically shortened lip can provide a more youthful and cosmetic show of teeth.

Who is a candidate for Lip Lift?

This procedure is most commonly performed on patients with an excessively long upper lip from heredity or aging.  The lip must be at least 18 mm long from the bottom of the nose for the patient to be a candidate for this procedure.  Most patients requesting lip lift are those who are aging and losing normal lip form and function, younger patients with long lips or any patient who has lack of normal incisor (upper teeth) show when smiling or speaking.

How is the procedure performed?

This procedure is about 30 minutes long and can easily be performed with local anesthesia or IV sedation if the patient wishes.  The lip is measured and marked and a “mustache” or Bull Horn” configuration of excess tissue is removed.  The can include skin or skin an muscle.  The incision is closed with very fine sutures and the patient is asked to refrain from excessive oral function for several days.
This must be done in a very precise and controlled way or the procedure will not be effective and the scar will be noticealbe.  When performed correctly with normal healing, the procedure heals in about 7-10 days and by 30 days the scar is usually hardly preceptible.  If the scar is visible it can easily be lasered to hide it.

The image below shows the area of skin to be excised in yellow and the right image shows a typical lip lift scar 3 weeks after the procedure.

The image below shows a patient before and afer subcutaneous lip lift by Dr. Joe Niamtu.  Note the shortened lip with improve pout as well as the increased amount of upper tooth show consistent with a more youthful lip.

For more information about cosmetic facial surgery by Dr. Joe Niamtu, III in Richmond, Virginia visit

Joe Niamtu, III DMD

Office Address

Joe Niamtu III, DMD
11319 Polo Place
Midlothian, VA 23113

Office Hours

Monday - Friday
8:00am - 5:00pm

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