Reviewed by Yael Halaas, MD
Lip augmentation is extremely popular, but it is not for everyone. Some people have larger-than-average lips that overshadow the rest of their face. Lips that are too full can affect speech and even eating and drinking, which can make you extremely self-conscious. If you feel you have too much of a good thing when it comes to lips, lip reduction surgery may be an option for you.
A relatively minor cosmetic procedure, lip reduction can be done on one or both lips. Lip reduction surgery removes excess lip tissue to reduce the size of your lips. The results are permanent, and lip reduction surgery can be combined with other facial rejuvenation procedures such as rhinoplasty and chin augmentation or jaw augmentation with implants.
Your Lip Reduction Surgery: Getting Started
The first step is to discuss your concerns and goals with a qualified surgeon. It is important that you are upfront about your medical history during this visit, and that you provide a complete list of all medications and supplements you take on a regular basis. Some of these medications may interfere with the results of your lip reduction surgery.
You will talk about the various looks that can be achieved with lip reduction surgery and the amount of lip tissue that should be removed. Your surgeon will explain the techniques, incision placements, as well as the risks associated with lip reduction.
You will also discuss the type of anesthesia that will be used for your procedure, and where the surgery will be done. Most lip reduction procedures are performed under local or regional anesthesia, sometimes with oral sedation. However, some surgeons may use light sleep sedation.
The consultation is also an appropriate time to discuss the lip reduction surgery cost.
If you decide to book your surgery, you will have a chance to ask any follow-up questions during your preoperative appointment. Your surgeon will go over your instructions and tell you what you can expect during the recovery period. You may also be given prescriptions for antibiotics and pain relievers to aid in your recovery. Filling these prescriptions in advance can be helpful. You also may need blood tests and/or a general physical before your lip reduction surgery. The results of these tests should help clear you for your surgery.
Your Lip Reduction Surgery: What to Expect
Lip reduction normally takes about an hour to perform. If it is done at the same time as other facial rejuvenation procedures, it will take longer. Lip reduction surgery may be performed in a hospital, a freestanding surgery center or in your surgeon's office.
After using the agreed upon anesthesia to numb the area, your surgeon makes an incision the length of your lip, usually along the inside of your mouth. He or she will then remove a strip of lip tissue and suture the incision closed. This will thin your lip and pull it inward, making it less full. Both lips can be done at once.
Your lips and mouth may feel tight and tender as the anesthesia wears off. You may experience mild to moderate pain during the first few days after your surgery. Your prescribed painkillers should help alleviate any discomfort. Follow your surgeon's instructions regarding sleeping. He or she will likely suggest that you sleep on two pillows for a week or two so your head remains elevated after your lip reduction. Expect some swelling and bruising after your surgery. This is normal.
Eating may be challenging after your lip reduction procedure. Avoiding highly acidic foods that can irritate the incisions is advisable. You may be instructed to rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash several times a day.
If you have excessive pain, redness, pus or other symptoms that do not appear normal, call your surgeon immediately as these may be signs of an infection.
Your surgeon will likely remove any sutures within a week to 10 days of surgery unless they dissolve on their own. Get your surgeon's approval before you participate in contact sports.
Lip Reduction Risks
All surgery has risks and complications. With lip reduction, these risks include allergic reaction to the anesthesia and infection. There is also the risk of asymmetry and/or cosmetic dissatisfaction. Numbness is also possible, but this usually subsides within the first few weeks. Excess scar tissue and lumps in your newly-thinned lips may also occur. If your lips are too thin as a result of lip reduction surgery, lip augmentation may help correct this.
The best way to maximize your results — and to minimize your risks — is to choose a qualified surgeon to perform your lip reduction surgery. Ask to see before and after pictures, and follow your chosen surgeon's instructions carefully.
Lip Reduction Cost
Lip reduction costs can range from $1,500 to $4,000. This is considered a cosmetic procedure, and as such the costs are not usually covered by insurance. If the cost is prohibitive, ask your surgeon about payment or financing plans. If lip reduction is performed in conjunction with other facial rejuvenation procedures, your overall cost will be higher. That said, you will only pay one facility fee and one anesthesia fee. In the long run, it may be more economical to have the procedures done at the same time, but keep in mind that risks do increase with the number of procedures performed at any given time.