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Surgical Lip Augmentation

Full, sensuous lips and a broad smile are universal signs of youth and beauty. Methods of lip enhancement continue to proliferate, and one of the most dramatic and long-lasting is surgical lip augmentation.

Surgical lip augmentation, also known as a lip lift or lip advancement, can be used to create volume in naturally thin lips or combat the effects of aging. Aging can cause the cupid’s bow to flatten, the upper lip to lengthen, and fine lines to form around the lips; lip augmentation can address all of these challenges.

There are many techniques for lip augmentation, including “gull-wing” and “bullhorn,” and the method our highly trained plastic surgeon, Dr. Charles Perry, uses is highly dependent upon your individual situation. Fat transfer, using fat harvested from your own body, differs from the lip lift technique but can be used for lip augmentation to help give lasting, natural looking volume to the lips.

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Who Is an Ideal Candidate for Surgical Lip Augmentation?

The ideal candidate for surgical lip augmentation is a healthy, mentally stable adult seeking to add volume to naturally thin lips, widen the colored part of their lips, or minimize the signs of aging on their lips.

Lip augmentation is not recommended for:

  • Individuals with unrealistic expectations – Lip lift surgery can improve on genetics or erase some of the signs of aging. However, it cannot permanently arrest aging, and in some cases will bring only a modest increase in lip volume.
  • Individuals seeking minimally invasive lip augmentation – Lip lift surgery is the most permanent of any lip augmentation technique, but it’s also the most invasive. For nonsurgical lip augmentation, consider Restylane®, Radiesse®, or fat transfer.

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Things to Consider Before Undergoing Surgical Lip Augmentation

Results last about five to ten years

This is much longer than other dermal fillers, such as Restylane® or Radiesse®. However, this surgery cannot permanently arrest the effects of aging, and the results of the surgery will eventually fade as aging continues to progress, just like the results of facelift/mini facelift are eventually overtaken by aging.

Lip lift can be combined with fat transfer

If you seek to shorten your upper lip while adding substantial volume to one or both of your lips, consider fat transfer. However, please note that fat transfer takes a few sessions to yield optimal results.

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How Is Lip Augmentation Surgery Performed?

As mentioned above, the technique used to accomplished lip augmentation is highly dependent on the patient’s individual anatomy and aesthetic goals. There are two techniques commonly used for lip augmentation. The first approach is the “gull-wing” technique, in which the surgeon carefully excises skin from above the border of your top lip; this skin resembles the shape of a gull wing. Once this thin strip of skin is removed, the edges are sutured together, creating a shorter upper lip, a rejuvenated cupid’s bow, and enhanced volume in the upper lip.

The second technique, called the “bullhorn” or subnasal technique, is similar to the “gull wing” technique, except the incision is made under the base of the nose, rather than the top of the upper lip. A thin strip of skin is excised, following the curve of the nose. The resultant strip of skin resembles the shape of a bull’s horns. Next, the edges of the incision are pulled together, and carefully closed with sutures.

The main difference between the two techniques is the location of the scar. In the “gull-wing” technique, the scar is hidden along the border of the lip; in the subnasal incision, the scar is hidden in the depression at the base of the nose.

Lip lift surgery can be performed under general anesthesia, or local anesthesia combined with IV sedation.

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Risks of Lip Augmentation Surgery

The following list covers some, though not all, possible risks of surgical lip augmentation. You will have further discussions of risks with Dr. Perry so you can understand the possible consequences of lip lift before undergoing the procedure.


Despite the surgeon’s skill and best efforts, it’s possible for lip lift surgery to yield a top lip with marked asymmetry.


As with any facial procedure, lip lift surgery is performed using techniques designed to hide scars in inconspicuous places. However, it’s possible for patients to experience abnormal healing or wide scars. This may lead to disappointment in the results of the procedure. Sometimes further surgery can correct abnormal scarring.

Permanent numbness

In rare cases, lip lift surgery has caused temporary or permanent loss of sensation in the lips.

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Complete Pre- and Post-operative Instructions for Surgical Lip Augmentation Patients

To make your lip lift surgery experience a positive one, we have prepared this comprehensive list of instructions to guide your behavior both before and after surgery. We recommend that you read over the instructions as soon as your surgery day is scheduled, and bring a printed copy with you on your surgery day.

Lip Augmentation Instructions (printer-friendly)

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*Individual Results May Vary

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