Upper Lip Lift
Of course, individual results can vary, but along with rhinoplasty, an Upper Lip Lift in the properly selected patient, produces some of the most dramatic improvements seen in plastic surgery today. It is one of those surgeries that can also make you look younger even if performed alone and despite its often times dramatic effect, no one can pinpoint exactly why you look better.
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Terminology Notes for Upper Lip Lift
UPPER LIP LIFTS ACHIEVE 3 GOALS:
- They shorten the distance between the nose and upper lip. The upper lip grows longer with age, so oftentimes an upper lip lift is performed along with a facelift at the same time. Patients who have had previous rhinoplasties occasionally complain that their upper lip appears longer after the nasal surgery so an upper lip lift can be appropriate for these individuals as well.
- They allow more upper tooth exposure. One need not go further than any common fashion magazine and realize that all the young models seem to have one thing in common with their lips and oral area- their upper teeth are nice and are visible (about 4-5 mm) with their lips slightly parted in natural repose (i.e., not smiling).
- They roll out the upper lip that is otherwise inverted. What this means is that the red portion of the upper lip will be more visible, therefore enhanced. This effect is subtle and will not create exaggerated Angelina Jolie’s lips alone.
The most appropriate candidates for lip reshaping and fat transfer are patients who have:
- A desire for more permanent results than temporary injectable fillers (which only address volume anyway)
- Lips that have become thin, inverted, shapeless or sagging with age
- Had other facial rejuvenation surgeries and want their lips to sync up with the rest of their face
- Had a rhinoplasty and find that their upper lip is too long
- Naturally unbalanced lips
- Naturally thin, inverted or flat lips that are nearly invisible, imparting an angry expression
Those who already possess ideally shaped lips but desire a bit more plumpness may only need added lip volume. Our practice offers both temporary (injectable filler) and permanent (fat transfer) augmentation.
Dr. Haworth has altered his upper lip lift technique 3 times over the last 14 years. The first version involved skin-only lip lifting, but he realized that results were not as lasting and the scars not as good. Additionally, there was a higher frequency of collateral distortion around the nose in which the nostrils were displaced downwards by a millimeter or two. Therefore, he exclusively started incorporating lifting the orbicularis oris muscle (below the skin) as well. Contrary to common myth, this does not involve cutting the muscle out, but is simply a shortening or hemming of the muscle via a folding technique onto the periosteum (lining) of the bones beneath the nose. This tended to not only improve the scarring (to near invisibility) with minimal-to-no nasal distortion, but also provide far longer-lasting results.
Recovery is slightly longer with some subjective stiffness and numbness of the upper lip lasting for about 2-4 months. Rarely does numbness last longer since only microscopic nerve branches exist within the area the actual cutting and sewing is performed. It is analogous to the tempoarary numbness one may experience after a breast augmentation, tummy tuck or, indeed, any type of surgery.
Operation and Recovery Logistics
SURGERY DURATION: 45 minutes
ANESTHESIA: I V sedation (“twilight sleep”)
SUTURES: Deep and superficial sutures (removed within 7 days after surgery)
RECOVERY TIME: 1-3 weeks of exaggerated swelling and 2-4 months of stiffness. Don’t worry, one will look good a good deal sooner than this.
SCAR HEALING: Scars have considerably improved since the muscle hemming deep stitches are employed to actually lift the lip. There is around a 5% chance that the scars may be a very minor revision around the nostril area-most likely a medical dermabrasion is all that is needed. Downward pull of the nostrils is also considerably reduced by this modified “muscle-tightening” technique.