Lovely lips are a very important facial feature, and those who have abnormally thin or thick lips may wish to have them revised. The means are available to bring about this change. Reshaping may involve a surgical procedure or may be accomplished with injection therapy, depending on the desired results.
For overly large lips, excess tissue is removed surgically through carefully placed incisions in the inside of the lips. Excess mucous membrane as well as deeper glandular and soft tissue is removed to debulk the lips. The incision is closed with a fine absorbable suture that does not require removal. Do not expect an immediate change, as the operative swelling will obscure the results for several weeks, but patients can expect a significant improvement in time. Since the incisions are inside, scarring is minimal in the usual case.
For the long upper lip, a lip lift operation is available. The result can be very flattering for the properly selected patient.
Two types of lip lift surgery are available. One involves an incision made in the lip itself and requires removal of a strip of skin above the lip. This procedure can result in unattractive scars, and we do not recommend it at our Center, except in unusual cases, or in older patients who are not as likely to form thick scars.
The second procedure — the one we prefer, involves an incision made at the base of the nose right at the junction of the nose and the upper lip. Skin is removed beneath the nose resulting in elevation of the lip. The incision is closed with very fine absorbable suture. The scar is inconspicuous after healing. Early redness can be covered with make up. For the first few weeks, there is an exaggerated look due to the swelling, but that usually settles quickly. Complications are uncommon with this operation but could include infection, wound separation or unsatisfactory scarring. We have not seen these complications in our experience. When done by itself, the surgery is easily carried out under local anesthesia.
For lips that are too thin, fat injections can be considered. Small amounts are harvested from other parts of the body and injected into the upper and lower lips. Although much of the fat is eventually lost, some of the effect may be permanent. The results vary from individual to individual.
We have found micro-droplet silicone to be a very effective means of enlarging the lips. We have a very large experience in this technique. Although not an FDA approved procedure, it can be offered as an “off label use” of an approved drug or device. Tiny micro-droplets of medical grade liquid silicone are injected into the upper and lower lip, which stimulates the formation of collagen that, in turn, is responsible for the added fullness that results from the injection. The procedure can be done under a dental block, although many patients have no anesthesia.
The goal is to produce natural full lips, not abnormally large lips. When properly done, the lips not only look natural, but feel natural. In over twenty five years, we have yet to see a significant adverse effect from the injections, but patients must realize that the results are permanent, and therefore, if complications occur, they may also be permanent.