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The latest lip plumping trend requires surgery

Anna De Souza


Health & Fitness

Anna De Souza is a digital and broadcast journalist covering fashion, beauty, technology and lifestyle. 

When not meandering the cobblestone streets of Old City, Philadelphia or sharing sharp cheddar with her best friend, Lella, you can c...

Getting the perfect pouty lip might require going under the scalpel

Could it be that a simple syringe of hyaluronic acid isn't the only cosmetic intervention to which social-media celebrities posing with plumped pouts have been resorting? Turns out a lip lift is the latest surgical procedure to hit the mass market, and it can increase lip poutiness for good.

More: Does insurance actually cover cosmetic surgery?

So what is a lip lift, exactly? Imagine pulling your Cupid's bow up slightly toward your nose. Just a few millimeters is enough to lift the top lip, giving it more surface area and making it look bigger overall. The surgical procedure is designed specifically to reduce the distance between the lips and the nose while essentially pulling the upper lip's pink tissue up from inside the mouth outward and increasing the size of the lip that is visible.

"Injectables are wonderful for their temporary results of up to six months for defining the upper and lower lips and creating a fuller look," explains plastic surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Epstein, "but the lip lift permanently shortens the upper lip area, allowing for greater upper teeth show, with the added benefit being increased poutiness."

Typically performed under local anesthesia, the procedure involves the removal of a small strip of skin from immediately below the nose that results in a relaxed, mouth-slightly-open, model-looking-off-into-the-distance perma-smile.

More: I had $8k in facial plastic surgery, and it did wonders for my self-esteem

"The lip lift as a procedure has been in existence for decades," explains Dr. Josh Zuckerman, a plastic surgeon at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City, "but we have decidedly seen an increase in the popularity of lip lifts over the past six months to one year."

Who's opting for permanent surgical intervention? Millennials made up 36 percent of the overall interest in 2015, according to RealSelf.

Epstein stresses patients need to understand the permanency of the results and the small risk of scarring and nostril distortion, which he notes is usually avoidable in an experienced surgeon’s hands. Doctors look for a distance between the nose and the upper lip of greater than 1.8 cm for best results. "If a patient is happy with fillers, I won't recommend the upper lip lift," he says.

While this may become a fan favorite for those looking to ditch fillers and lip-plumping cosmetics, not all surgeons are fans. Dr. Paul Nassif, of Botched fame and a RealSelf adviser, finds the scar unsightly and the look too surgical. But if you're willing to take the plunge, get ready to plunk down over $3,000 for the procedure. It is a permanent fix, so it might just be worth the investment, given it's roughly the equivalent to about four rounds of Juvederm!

More: My blood was injected into my face for a cosmetic procedure — and I loved it

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