Lip Lift | Risks and Recovery | MedStar Health

Enhancing the appearance of the upper lip

A woman looks in a mirror and touches her upper lip.

As you age, your upper lip may lose volume, become longer, and cover the upper teeth. By getting lip-lift surgery, you can reduce the distance between the base of your nose and your lip, increase the fullness of the upper lip, and reveal more of your upper teeth. This procedure can accomplish more than lip fillers, which may increase the fullness of the lips, but limit the visibility of the teeth.

An upper-lip lift is done in one of several ways. Each method typically utilizes an incision that is made underneath the nose to lift the lip up:

  • The gull-wing lip lift: This surgical technique helps accentuate the coloring of the lips by removing skin and other tissues directly under the nose. This incision removes tissue and alters the shape of the lip by moving up the red portion of the lip and increasing lip fullness.

  • Subnasal lip lift: Also known as a bullhorn lip lift, this procedure removes a smaller amount of tissue from under the base of the nose. The skin is then raised and sutured, lifting the lip to expose more of the red portion of the upper lip.

  • Corner lip lift: If the outer corners of your lips turn down, this procedure can provide improvement. Incisions are made on the edge of the upper, outer-lip. Triangles of tissue are then removed to turn the lips up. This same technique can also be applied to the groove beneath the lower lip for cases in which the groove is overly deep and prominent.

Planning and recovery

A doctor talks with a patient about lip-lift surgery during an office visit.

What to expect

When you meet your surgeon, the two of you will discuss in detail your concerns, anticipated results, and how the procedure will be performed.

Your lip-lift procedure can be performed either in your surgeon’s office under local anesthesia or it can be done in a procedure unit under sedation or general anesthesia.

Recovery after surgery

Sutures are generally removed five days following your surgery. You should expect your lips to swell for one to two weeks. It is not uncommon for the lip-lift incisions to take about six to eight weeks to begin to look good. You may also experience tightness in the affected area for two to four months.

You should expect long-lasting results from your lip lift. Follow-up consultations with your surgeon should help ensure optimum results.

Our locations

Distance from Change locationEnter your location

MedStar Health: Plastic Surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

3800 Reservoir Road NW,
BLES Building
1st. Floor
Washington, D.C., 20007


MedStar Health: Plastic Surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center

106 Irving St. NW
POB North
Ste. 3400
Washington, D.C., 20010

MedStar Health: Plastic Surgery at McLean

6862 Elm Street
Suite 800
McLean, VA 22101


Frequently asked questions

  • Am I a candidate for a lip lift?

    You may be a good candidate if:

    • You’re physically healthy

    • Your expectations are realistic

    • You understand the risks that come with surgery

    • You lack tooth visibility, have an elongated upper-lip distance, and lack fullness in the upper lip

    If you already have ideally shaped lips, but desire more plumpness, you may be better served with a lip injection.

  • What are the risks of a lip lift?

    As with any surgery, lip lifts do pose some risks. These risks include:

    • Anesthesia complications

    • Infection

    • Lip distortion

    • Lip lengthening

    • Pain

    • Paresthesia (a burning or prickling sensation)

    • Numbness

    • Stiffness

    • Smile deformation

    • Speech impediment

    • Swelling

    • Visible scarring

  • How much does a lip lift cost?

    The costs for a lip lift vary based on your specific needs. When you come in for your consultation visit, we’ll be better able to discuss fees in detail with you. Our staff will also review the financing options available and help with any payment questions you may have.