While many surgeons feel uncomfortable with performing an upper lip lift, let alone one simultaneously with a rhinoplasty, it can be safely done. The concern revolves around the fear of losing vital blood supply to the columella (the fleshy straight partition that exists between the nostrils), because if the blood flow is compromised to this area then necrosis or loss of the columellar skin can result. This, in turn, can lead to a possible unsightly scar. If the nose job is performed through an endonasal or closed approach ( whereby all incisions are strictly confined to within the nose itself) there should be little concern for this. However, caution must be exerted when the rhinoplasty is performed with an open technique- one that involves making a scar across the columella in order to gain better access and therefore better visualization and control of the operation. In a normal open technique the incision is placed about halfway up on the columella. Since an upper lip lift necessitates making an incision at the base of the columella (where it joins with the upper lip), the incision needed for the open rhinoplasty can also be the same one- so the incision will be used for two different purposes.
Scar placement for rhinoplasty alone and in combination with an upper lip lift
The situation becomes more complicated, however, when a persisting scar stemming from a previous open nose job is present. In this situation, the plastic surgeon must carefully plan his incisions so as not to compromise the blood supply. More often than not it is safer to keep the upper lip lift incision separate from the rhinoplasty’s in these revision cases.
The planning becomes even more critical when the nostrils need to be narrowed during the nasal aesthetic surgery ( Weir excisions). Not only does the upper lip lift need to be blended well onto the columella, but it also needs to be conformed to a freshly narrowed nasal base, with minimal undesired tension across the final scar ( which can increase the chance of it being noticeable). Intricate surgery along with an intimate knowledge of the regional anatomy and the biophysics of an upper lip lift are key ingredients to a beautiful outcome in this combination surgery. Following are two examples of before and afters of this combo surgery.