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A lip lift is a cosmetic surgery procedure in which the upper lip is pulled up and away from the teeth. This is accomplished by making a small incision above the upper lip, and removing a strip of skin and tissue. The incision can be in the upper lip itself or just below the nose. When healed, the lip will appear fuller, as more of its underside will be visible.
This procedure is often sought by women who have a thin upper lip. It it also commonly performed on women who have a much longer upper lip than bottom lip, in order to achieve a balanced appearance. This procedure can be performed in a cosmetic surgeon's office with only local anesthetic, and usually takes between 30 and 90 minutes to complete.
Another common reason for a lip lift is age. As the facial bones age, they retract, causing the skin to hang more loosely. In addition, fat and soft tissues of the face will begin to lose their elasticity, further loosening the skin. This can cause the vermilion, or pink portion of the upper lip to become almost invisible. Sagging lips can also prevent the teeth from being seen when smiling.
A lip lift also attempts to restore what is known as Cupid's Bow, which is the v-shaped area in the middle of the upper lip. This often becomes more shallow as the face ages, and a lip lift attempts to restore its original depth and, thereby, a more youthful-looking mouth. This surgery is also used to bring the corners of the mouth up, eliminating the downward smile that can be characteristic of aging.
This procedure is different from a lip augmentation, in which a cosmetic filler, such as collagen, is injected into the lips to make them appear plump. A lip augmentation will wear off after a time, and the lips will once again begin to thin or droop. Lip lifts are a permanent surgical procedure, and can shorten the gap between the upper lip and the bottom of the nose.
Recovery from a lip lift is typically quick, with swelling occurring for only the first few days. Applying make up and other facial products can begin again one day after the surgery. Complications from this surgery are usually minor, but can include a separation of the incision or scarring which will detract from the intended look.