Expert Doctor

Lip Reduction

Posted September 21, 2017
Lip Reduction

Lip reduction is a surgical procedure that can be performed on both the upper and lower lip to reduce their size, maintain their balance with the other facial features and make them aesthetically pleasing. In general, lip reduction has two major areas of treatment:

  • The first one is reducing a natural lip. In other words, these are patients naturally born with fuller lips and this includes ethnic lips like Hispanic and African-American. These are people born with a lip that just looks overly full or imbalanced.
  • The second one is correcting a previous injection or surgery. For example, if someone had silicone injected in their lips, the silicone cannot be removed. Any fat that has been injected in the lips cannot be removed. In these cases, a doctor can do a physical lip reduction.

Am I a Good Candidate for Lip Reduction?

The ideal candidate for lip reduction is a person that:

  • Has naturally large lips
  • Is unhappy with the results of a previous lip augmentation procedure
  • Is not a smoker as smoking can hinder the healing process

On the other hand, some people are not good candidates for lip augmentation:

  • People with unrealistic expectations
  • Patients not in general good health
  • Those with lips that can’t be reduced while still keeping them proportional with the rest of the face

How is Lip Reduction Performed?

Lip reduction can be performed under general or local anesthesia. The surgeon makes a horizontal incision on the inside of the lip. Through the incision, the surgeon proceeds to remove any excess fat and tissue that provides fullness to the lips. Once the desired amount of fat and tissue is removed, the incision is closed with stitches.

The anesthesia numbs the lip and reduces the pain to a very minimal level. The procedure itself takes between 30 minutes to two hours. Dissolvable sutures are used to close the incision.

The surgeon has to proportionally reduce the lip in such a way that the lip is both functional and aesthetic. Another component of lip reduction surgery is making sure that the nerve and blood supply are protected during the reduction process.

What is the Cost of Lip Reduction?

The cost of having lip reduction surgery can be anywhere from $500-$4000. The final price depends on whether both lips are treated or just the upper or lower lip. The cost also includes fees charged by the surgeon and any facility fees.

Recovery and Downtime

Overall, the recovery and downtime for lip reduction surgery is relatively small. Following the surgery, patients should apply ice bags to minimize the swelling. Some pain medication might be necessary to dull any discomfort. For the first few hours after the procedure, patients will not be able to close their mouth because the pain block makes it hard to do so.

Dissolvable sutures are used to close the incision so there is no need for a follow-up appointment to remove them. 

Patients will need to sleep with their head elevated for the first few days after surgery. They can usually go back to work within 7 days of the surgery.


The results are often visible right away in the upper lip. The bottom lip may not be visible right away because the lip hangs out due to the pain block. In some cases, the bottom lip can be swollen for a few days up to a month.

It takes 7-14 days for the stitches to begin to dissolve. Patients should not trim any of the stitches as they will fall out on their own. The overall numbness can last anywhere from one to three months because the skin nerves will be irritated.

Any scarring typically heals very effectively. A minority of patients need an injection of a non-steroid based scar dissolver to help reduce the scar tissue.

Overall, it takes about 2-3 months for patients to see the final results. Lip reduction results are permanent. However, patients who feel that their lips are too thin after surgery can have lip augmentation to add some volume back into the lips.

Limitations and Risks of Lip Reduction

There are some limitations when it comes to lip reduction including:

  • The surgery cannot make the lips tiny and still maintain their functional level. Doctors are not just trying to reduce the physical size of the lip. They are also creating a shape that mimics an actual lip. For example, working on the top lip typically involves taking the trapezoid out which allows a reduction in the shape and natural lip.
  • Surgeons are limited in going too far into the outer edges when dealing with the correction of the white lip. In other words, the distance between the white lip from the red lip up to the nose is an area that cannot be surgically reduced because it will create scarring and nerve damage.

Some common risks involved in lip reduction surgery include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Anesthesia complications
  • Asymmetry
  • Temporary Numbness
  • Lip lumps
  • Excess scar tissue in the lips

A Skilled Doctor is the Best Choice

A patient can have lip reduction surgery whether they are unhappy with their natural lip appearance or they need a correction from a previous surgery. It is important for the patient to consult with a doctor experienced in performing lip reduction surgery. A skilled and experienced doctor is better prepared to make sure the lip is not reduced too much which can result in an unnatural look.


Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team- MA

Based on an exclusive interview by Sam Lam, MD in Plano, TX

Article Last Updated on September 21, 2017