Dr Anne Collins Cosmetic Surgeon

Upper Lip Lift

Elongation of the distance between the nose and lip can be age-related, though this is not always the case. Our lips do, however, deflate with time. This combination results in a tendency for the upper lip to hang over the upper teeth creating and an aged, tired appearance.

An upper lip, sub-nasal or bullhorn lip lift is a rejuvenating procedure designed to shorten the distance between the nose and lip, increase lip show so it appears more volumised and improve upper tooth show when the lips are slightly parted.

Ideal candidates for this surgery have a distance of more than 1.5cm between the nose and lip, a thin upper lip, no upper teeth show with mouth opening or smiling and are non-smokers with no history of adverse scarring. 

upper lip lift


What does the surgery involve?

The procedure can be performed under local anaesthetic. A small amount of skin is excised to reduce the distance between the nose and lip. The term bullhorn refers to the shape of the incision used: two connected horizontal lines which extend upwards under the base of the nose. The wound is closed in layers. The skin sutures are removed after 5 to 7 days. The deeper ones dissolve within 3 months. 

What precautions will I need to take after surgery?

Post-operatively it is important to keep the wound clean and dry for 48 hours. A cold compress can help reduce the bruising and swelling. For 2 weeks after the surgery, you will need to take a number of precautions including eating a soft diet, rinsing your mouth out after each meal, avoid opening your mouth too wide and brushing your teeth with a smaller, softer tooth brush than normal.

What should I expect, in terms of recovery, after the surgery?

Bruising and swelling is common and can take up to 2 weeks to subside. You are more likely to experience discomfort rather than sharp pain following your surgery. Dr Collins will ensure you have adequate pain relief to deal with this. You can typically resume normal activity in 24 hours but you need to avoid strenuous activity for 2 weeks.

What are the most common complications of the surgery?

As with any surgery, there are risks involved. These include:

  • Bruising and swelling, which can take up to two weeks to subside
  • A permanent scar beneath the nostrils at the nose-cheek junction. This will be red initially and will fade to a thin white line over a period of months
  • Pain and discomfort
  • Wound infection
  • Bleeding
  • Numbness in the skin
  • Scar sensitivity 
  • Under or over correction 
  • Excessive dental show
  • Weakness of the smile 
  • Recurrence of lip lengthening 
  • The need for further surgery 

What are the limitations of the surgery?

The surgery can give the impression of a more volumised upper lip but it does not add fullness. If your priority is additional fullness, you may want to consider other options for lip enhancement. The procedure tends to elevate the central portion more than the lateral portions of your upper lip. Finally, an upper lip lift will not address upper lip lines. These can be treated with dermal fillers. 

What does the surgery cost?

After your consultation, Dr Collins will provide you with an estimate detailing the costs involved. For procedures performed under local anaesthetic, the cost will be between $3,500 and $4,000.