More People are Choosing Lip Lift as a Longer-Lasting Lip Filler Alternative—Here’s Why

Beautiful woman smiling after her surgical lip lift procedure

Thanks to A-list celebrities and social media influencers, lip augmentation has become wildly popular—but many people don’t realize there are options beyond injectable lip fillers. In fact, lip augmentation is a general term, and a fuller lip appearance can be achieved either temporarily with lip filler or for years to come with a surgical lip lift procedure.

Here, Dr. Haley Bray, a facial plastic surgeon Granite Bay patients trust to deliver beautiful lip enhancement results, explains the differences between these procedures, answers FAQs, and weighs in on who should consider a surgical lip lift as a lip filler alternative.

Upper lip lift vs. lip filler

Both a lip lift or lip filler can augment the lips for a beautiful, natural-looking enhancement and can help bring balance and harmony to your face. They can be used separately or together, and can be tailored to suit your goals, whether you want a discreet boost or a dramatic transformation.

Lip lift overview

A lip lift is a surgical procedure to enhance the appearance of the upper lip only. A discreet incision is made under the base of the nose, allowing the surgeon to shorten the philtrum (the space between the top of the upper lip and the base of the nose) and thereby raise the top lip. In some cases, an additional incision is made at each corner of the lip to increase the visibility of this area if it tends to curl under/down—also known as a lateral lip lift. Repositioning the upper lip reveals more of your natural lip, making the upper lip appear fuller. A surgical lip lift can also enhance the “Cupid’s bow” (the curvy upper lip line formed by where the vermilion border meets your facial skin). In a standard lip lift, no volume is added.

A lip lift enhances the lip appearance by increasing the amount of visible upper red lip without noticeably increasing outward projection.

Lip lift recovery and results

While you won’t have much true downtime other than the day of your lip lift procedure, allow for a few weeks of lip lift healing time. This is because it typically takes about 2 weeks for the incision to complete initial healing and for post-procedure swelling to subside. It is very important to follow all aftercare instructions and protect the fading incision with sunscreen. You’ll notice an immediate enhancement to your upper lip; the final appearance of the area becomes clear around the 3-month mark.

Lip filler overview

Dermal fillers, a completely non-surgical option, may be used to add volume to your top lip, bottom lip, or both. A hyaluronic-based solution is injected into the lips to increase projection and volume. Lip fillers have the added benefit of smoothing “lip lines” and can also achieve a corner lip lift by correcting drooping corners of the mouth.

The key to success—and natural-looking results—with lip filler is choosing an expert injector. They should be conservative with the amount of filler they initially place and then make small adjustments to achieve the results you desire without creating an over-filled appearance.

Lip filler recovery and results

Lip filler recovery is minimal—there is no required downtime; we simply ask you to avoid strenuous exercise for the rest of the day. Mild swelling and bruising typically resolves in 5-6 days. Results after lip filler injections are immediate and final results are visible in 2-3 weeks, after the filler has fully integrated with your tissue. Tip: if you like the appearance of your immediate results with post-injection swelling, plan a touch up appointment a few weeks later to add additional filler and thereby fine-tune your results.

These photos show our patient’s beautiful non-surgical lip augmentation results.
These photos show our patient’s beautiful non-surgical lip augmentation results.

See more lip filler before and after photos in our gallery!

Lip lift vs. lip filler maintenance

A lip lift is very long-lasting and does not require any touch-up procedures. Lip fillers are temporary and require touch-up injections every 6-12 months to maintain their effects. Neither procedure will stop the natural aging process, so you may also wish to support and maintain your lip enhancement results with other treatments, such as skin resurfacing, dermal fillers in surrounding areas, collagen-boosting treatments, or facial lifting procedures. High quality skin and lip care products can also be key to maintaining results.

Benefits of a lip lift

Patients are opting for an upper lip lift instead of, or in addition to, lip filler injections for a number of reasons. The benefits of a surgical lip lift include:

  • Long-lasting results
  • A natural look and feel
  • No maintenance required
  • Cost-effectiveness over time

For patients with a sagging upper lip, the “duck lip” issue resulting from the overuse of fillers can be avoided by opting for a surgical lip lift, or using the procedure in conjunction with lip filler.

Furthermore, a lip lift will likely allow more of your teeth to show when talking or smiling! (Also want a brighter smile? The DaVinci Teeth Whitening system is a perfect compliment to a lip lift.)

Patients may also prefer a lip lift if they are allergic to certain injectables or have had a less-than-stellar experience with lip filler.

Lip lift vs. lip filler risks and side effects

Both types of lip enhancement procedure are commonly performed and are considered relatively safe. That said, with any cosmetic procedure or treatment, there is a minor risk of infection or side effects. Choosing a reputable facial plastic surgeon will lessen the likelihood you experience an adverse reaction.

Possible lip lift side effects

Complications with lip augmentation surgery are uncommon but may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Asymmetric results
  • Poor scar appearance
  • Nerve damage

Possible lip filler side effects

Serious complications with lip fillers are rare but may include:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Redness
  • Eruptions or lumps
  • Scarring at the injection site
  • Vascular occlusion (blocked blood vessel)
  • Allergic reaction to filler solution

FAQ about lip lift and lip filler

You’ve got questions; Dr. Haley Bray has answers!

Q: Will a lip lift affect my smile?

A: Yes, in some ways. Besides having a fuller upper lip appearance, most lip lift patients also notice their teeth are more visible when they smile. If you have a “gummy smile”—meaning a good amount of your gums show when smiling—a lip lift will likely allow more of your gum line to be visible when speaking and smiling. (To counteract this effect, Botox can be used to lessen how much of your gums show when you smile.) All that said, your overall ability to smile and express yourself will not be affected after a lip lift.

Q: When will I be able to smile after a lip lift?

A: Right away! A lip lift should not impact your ability to smile, though you may feel some tenderness above your lip when smiling for a few days and should treat your incision site gently until it has completely healed.

Q: Is lip filler surgery?

A: Nope! Lip fillers require just a few quick injections, and you can immediately resume your normal daily activities.

Q: How can I remove lip injections?

A: If you are unhappy with your lip filler, hyaluronidase (Hyalase) can be injected into the lips to help speed up the dissolving process that would naturally occur over time. Hyaluronidase will start working immediately, and your lips should return to their original appearance in just a few days.

Q: How long does a surgical lip lift last?

A: Most patients enjoy their surgical lip lift results for 10+ years! Still, your skin and underlying facial musculature will continue to age.

Q: Who is a good candidate for a lip lift?

A: Almost anyone in good health is a candidate for a lip lift. If you would like a fuller, natural-looking upper lip appearance with no maintenance required or have an excess amount of skin above your lip, a lip lift may be just the procedure for you!

Q: Do lip lifts hurt?

A: A little—tenderness is to be expected after any surgical procedure, but most Granite Bay lip lift patients report only mild and temporary discomfort around the incision site.

Q: Is lip lift better than filler?

A: Hmm, maybe! Depending on your goals and unique anatomy, you may prefer a lip lift over filler—I’d be happy to help you decide!

Q: Can I combine a lip lift with lip filler?

A: Yes! Adding filler after a lip lift can achieve greater enhancement, especially if you have very thin natural lips. Also, adding filler to the bottom lip will beautifully complement the top lip and likely make your lip augmentation appear more natural.

Why more people are choosing lip lift as a long-lasting alternative to filler

Convenience may be the biggest influence in the growing popularity of surgical lip lifts. As a one-and-done option with minimal recovery, a surgical lip lift offers long-lasting results and requires only a fraction of the time needed to maintain the temporary effects of lip filler injections.

Surgical lip lifts also offer personalized refinement that injectables can’t address, such as augmenting the shape of the “Cupid’s bow” and minimizing the appearance of a longer upper lip. Lip fillers can only enhance the shape of your existing “Cupid’s bow,” and adding too much volume to a longer upper lip may create a “duck lip” appearance.

Lip augmentation with female plastic surgeon Dr. Haley Bray

Whether you choose a surgical lip lift or lip fillers (or both!) to enhance your lips, Granite Bay facial plastic surgeon Dr. Haley Bray and our expert team of injectors have the skills and expertise to achieve safe, natural-looking results you will love. To learn more about your surgical and non-surgical options, we invite you to call our practice at (916) 242-2662 or contact us online today!

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