Lip Reduction

Lip Reduction

What are the indications for lip reduction?

Lip reduction is an intervention that is clearly performed less often than lip augmentation. However, very large lips are also found. This affects the lower lip more commonly than the upper lip. In Down Syndrome (trisomy 21) and other syndromes, oversized lips are commonly encountered. However, the cause is very often the ethnic background of the affected person. Especially people with an African background frequently complain about their large lips and seek out the plastic surgeon with a desire for a lip reduction.

Related terms: lip reduction, lip correction, lip surgery, reduction cheiloplasty.


How is lip reduction surgery performed?

Lip reduction can be carried out under local anesthesia. An accompanying twilight sleep is often more comfortable.

In the usual surgery, a spindle-shaped portion of mucosa with connective tissue is removed from the inner surface of the lip. The extent of this strip of mucosa is dependent on the size and shape of the lip. If this is enlarged to the corners of the mouth, therefore too long horizontally, then additional wedges will be removed there. With lip reduction surgery, no visible scars remain.

The removal of a wedge-shaped portion of the mid lower lip in the midline should be considered only in exceptional cases, because in that location a visible scar will remain.


Lip reduction through revision with hyaluronic acid.

A special form of lip reduction is represented by a revision with hyaluronic acid injections into the lip. If patients are dissatisfied with the results, there is the possibility of reversing them with an "antidote." Here, an enzyme (Hylase) is involved, which breaks down the injected hyaluronic acid.

What is involved in postoperative care for lip reduction?

Postoperative care for lip reduction depends on the extent of the surgery. Cooling is very important right after the surgery, because otherwise massive swelling could develop. Because the lips are so mobile, talking should be kept to a minimum for the first few days. In addition, a gradual return to solid food is recommended: liquids - pureed - light diet - normal diet. Stitches can be removed in 10-14 days.

What complications can occur during lip reduction?


A surgical adage maintains that there are only 2 types of surgeons who have no complications:
Those of the first type do not operate, and those of the second are liars.

Your plastic surgeon should explain complications and their warning signs to you in detail,
so that they can be detected in a timely manner and treated adequately to avoid worsening.

In the following, the most important complications that can occur with a lip reduction are briefly described:

  • Bleeding after lip reduction
    This is generally avoided by use of careful hemostasis and compression.
  • Swelling and hematomas
    In the first few days swelling and mild bruising are normal. The soft lips can at times swell rather badly, which may be reduced by ample cooling and by taking an anti-swelling medication after the lip reduction.
  • Disturbance of skin feeling after the lip reduction
    Impairment of skin sensation may remain, especially in large revisions. However, the changes are largely reversible.
  • Disturbance of scar formation
    So called hypertrophic scars (or, in the worse cases, keloids) are unusual in mucosal areas.
  • Damage to adjacent structures:
    The m. obicularis oris (mouth-closing muscle) should not be appreciably affected by lip reduction surgery - if it were affected, it would be because it was an extreme case. Then there would be incisions in the midline to achieve an extensive reduction.
  • Infection after a lip reduction:
    To prevent infection, a careful adherence to standard hygiene must be maintained. No food particles should get into the non-healed wound. Therefore a liquid diet is to be recommended in the first days after the lip reduction.
  • Tearing of the wound
    This is possible if too much stress is placed on the mouth area too soon after a lip reduction, but it is rare overall.
  • The risks of narcotics / anesthesia will not be addressed here.

Further topics

  • Lip enhancement
    As opposed to lip reduction, an operation is not absolutely necessary in the case of lip enhancement. In the case of fillers, such as hyaluronic acid, contouring or filling can be achieved by means of lip injection. Of course, the effect only lasts for about 12 months, depending on the preparation.


Updated on 22.09.2012

  • Plastic Surgery – Mathes – 8 Volumes - Saunders; Auflage: Uitgawe - 2005
  • Ästhetische Chirurgie – Lemperle, von Heimburg – Ecomed – 2008 – (Ringbandwerk)