The lip lift has quickly become one of the hottest trends in plastic surgery. While classically performed for older patients who have developed elongation of the ir upper lip , the lip lift is now commonly being performed in patients as young as their 20s who wish to improve the aesthetics and sensuality of their lips.
LIPS: WHAT DEFINES BEAUTY?
Beauty and youth can be subconsciously perceived through the shape and definition of the lips. A youthful upper lip is hydrated and luscious, with a well-defined cupid’s bow and philthral columns. The tubercle, which is the central portion of the upper lip, should be volumized and slightly raised in the female lip to show the bottom of the upper central incisors with the mouth in a resting position (lips open). These features add sensuality to the mouth and enhance the aesthetics of the face.
As we age, the skin of our upper lip loses collagen and the orbicularis muscle surrounding our lips gradually weakens. This leads to elongation of the upper. The upper lip also loses volume and inverts, causing the red lip to roll under and be less visible. A flatter, thin lip which covers the teeth is synonymous with older age and, in some individuals, can make the face seem more stern or angry.
WHAT IS A LIP LIFT?
A lip lift is a surgical procedure that is performed to shorten the length of the upper lip. This effectively everts the upper lip to create more red lip show, improves definition of the cupid’s bow and improves the tooth show for the upper central incisors – all changes which give the lips and mouth a more youthful, sensual appearance.
A lip lift cannot be approached as a one-size-fits-all surgery. Every patient has different anatomic characteristics which affect what lip modifications would suit their face. Therefore, it is important to select a surgeon who understands both the aesthetic nuances and anatomic factors which define a beautiful lip for each individual patient.
Evaluation for a lip lift includes a detailed physical examination of the anatomy of your midface including the length, symmetry, shape and volume of your upper lip, mouth corner height, tooth show and dental characteristics. The anatomy of your nose and bones of the middle and lower face (maxilla and mandible) and overall facial proportions are also carefully evaluated.
Dr. Sharma will measure your lip length while sitting upright. For most patients, between 4 to 7 mm of lip height is excised in a lip lift. However, slightly less or more height can be excised depending on a patient’s anatomy. A minimum lip length of approximately 11 mm centrally is always retained so as to not give the mouth an unnatural appearance. After meticulous measurement with calipers and marking, the excision is performed.
Relatively speaking, the surgical excision of the excess lip height is actually the simpler part of the procedure. Critical elements of the surgery are measurement and marking, release of tissues, advancement and closure. In the remaining upper lip, below the excised portion, the skin and SMAS layers are released from the deeper orbicularis muscle. Doing this properly allows for lip advancement in a centrally directed vector. Closure is performed in multiple layers, with the deeper tissues bearing the strength and tension of the lift. A thoughtfully planned and well executed lip lift with a tension-free skin closure should not result in any blunting of the natural crease between the nose and lip or noticeable scarring of the incision line.
A lip lift can be performed under local anesthesia with oral medication for pain and relaxation. This can be performed as an in-office procedure, or in an operating room if combined with other surgeries. Dr. Sharma will place non-absorbable sutures along your incision which are removed in 1 week.
SHOULD I GET LIP FILLER OR A LIP LIFT?
As lip aesthetics become more popular, you may be wondering whether lip filler or an upper lip lift would be the right option for you. It is important to understand what each procedure can and cannot accomplish.
A lip filler is typically a hyaluronic acid (HA) based dermal filler which serves to add hydration and volume to the lip. When injected judiciously in the right patient, filler can improve the pout and sensuality of the lip and while maintaining a natural appearance. HA fillers come in a wide variety of consistencies, with some being more hydrophilic (attract water) and migratory in nature than others. If such a filler is placed, or filler is injected in improper locations, the filler can migrate north of the vermilion border (demarcation between the lip and skin), into the subcutaneous tissues of the upper lip. This results in a heavy, unnatural appearing lip and often requires dissolving of the lip filler.
A lip lift raises and everts the lip, rolling the red lip outwards to increase its show. This also effectively improves the tooth show of the upper central incisors. Lip eversion is more effective with a lip lift than lip filler. If filler is added to a long lip, this makes the lip appear even longer and fuller at the bottom, creating a “duck lip” appearance.
If you have questions about whether lip filler or a lip lift may be best for you, it is best to have a consultation with a facial plastic surgeon who performs both types of treatments regularly.