There are other types of lip enhancement procedures, but we tend to hear most about the one that uses fillers to plump and make them bigger. Among the alternatives available to perfect the pout is the corner lip lift or the “smile lift,” which can lift drooping corners of the mouth caused by aging. Here’s everything you need to know according to the pros.
What causes our smiles to droop down as we age?
As we age, the distance from the base of the nose to the colored lip thins and lengthens, resulting in less visibility of the upper incisors, says Newport Beach, CA plastic surgeon Sanjay Grover, MD. “Along with the central lip lengthening, the corners of the lip also descend and turn downwards, creating a sad or angry appearance. An upper lip lift is more effective in raising the central two-thirds of the upper lip; thus, a corner lip lift is beneficial for some.”
What is a corner lip lift?
According to Delray Beach, FL facial plastic surgeon Miguel Mascaro, MD a “true” corner lift involves addressing the oral commissure, or the corners of the mouth. “This is where the upper and lower lip meet,” he explains. “However, this can be incorporated into an extended corner lift, where the part of the upper lip along the side can be rolled up as well.”
“We noticed that some of our patients have anatomy that doesn’t reveal much of their lateral lip, and their lateral lip still won’t show after our standard lip lift,” adds Palo Alto, CA facial plastic surgeon Sachin S. Parikh, MD. “With a corner lip lift, we remove a minor amount of skin from the outer corners just above the red lip to ensure that the patient will show more of their lateral lip post procedure.”
What does a corner lip lift entail?
Unlike a traditional lip lift, which involves shortening the length between the nose and the upper lip to create a fuller-looking top lip, Dr. Grover says a corner lip lift involves removing one to three millimeters of skin at the junction of the lip border at the corner. “This procedure can be performed under local, twilight or general anesthesia depending on if it is performed alone, with an upper lip lift, or along with an entire facial rejuvenation procedure.”
Dr. Parikh believes the ease of the surgery is why lip lifts have been trending in recent years. “It’s a minor surgery, a small physical change, with a transformative overall effect,” he shares. “Many of our patients go through this in-office procedure and can return to their daily lives fairly soon, without anyone realizing they had any kind of surgery. Our patients hear a lot of ‘I can’t tell what’s different, but you look great!'”
Who should consider a corner lip lift?
If you’ve noticed your smile turning downward and constant frowning, Dr. Mascaro says you may be a good candidate for this treatment. “This is best for those who have fallen sides of the lip along with downward going oral commissures. It’s important to remember this does not address marionette lines. For that, a facelift is indicated.”
“The best candidates for a corner lip lift are patients that appear to show no or very little lateral lip,” notes Palo Alto, CA facial plastic surgeon David Lieberman, MD. “It looks as if their lip is fuller, centrally, but the fullness and the lip line rapidly taper downward laterally, toward the corners. This can be due to general anatomy, a prior traditional lip lift, or it can develop through the aging process.”
Who should skip it?
If the concern is lip volume or the length between the upper lip and nose, a corner lip lift won’t address these issues. “If a patient has nicely shaped lips with adequate volume and is only bothered by the length between the upper lip and nose, they wouldn’t necessarily be a candidate for a corner lip lift,” says Dr. Lieberman. “It is all about bringing balance to the entire lip and mouth area.”
Is there any visible scarring associated with a corner lip lift?
According to Dr. Parikh, scarring is minimal and hidden within the border of the lip. Dr. Mascaro adds that scarring is always a drawback with any treatment, but to find a skilled, board-certified surgeon who has extensive experience performing them for the best result.
What results can you expect?
“After healing and once the swelling has subsided, patients will notice more of the colored area of their natural lip is visible, even with their lips at rest,” shares Dr. Parikh. “More of their teeth show when they smile, and they’ll have noticeably increased volume in the upper lip.”