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Archive for the ‘lip advancement’ Category

Case Study – Extreme Upper and Lower Lip Advancements with Mouth Corner Lifts

Sunday, April 30th, 2017


Background: Lip augmentation is one of the most popular non-surgical facial enhancement procedures. Done primarily by synthetic injectable fillers the size of the lips can be increased for the duration of the filler’s persistence. When skillfully done injectable fillers can create a myriad of perioral effects from lip size increase, correction of lip asymmetries and corner of the mouth lifts.

The effectiveness of fillers in the lip is based on having enough vermilion height so it can be expanded superiorly as well as outward. When the lips are very thin with a small amount of vermilion show, the push of the fillers is going to more outward than upward. This creates the dreaded ‘ducklip’ effect in which the lips are disproportionately balanced between their projection and height.

With poor responses to fillers in thin lips, changing the location of the vermilion border is the most effective approach. This his known as a lip advancement procedure and can be done on both the upper and lower lips. It is particularly effective in vermilion height asymmetries due to the ability to precisely change the location of the vermilion-skin border line.

Case Study: This 35 year-old female wanted bigger lip but also correction of her natural upper lip asymmetry. She previously had a congenital nevus removed from the left side of her upper lip which further contributed to her natural lip asymmetry. She had injectable fillers placed into her lips numerous times in the past but didn’t want to continue with that recurring expense.

Under local anesthesia with infraorbital and mental nerve blocks, lip advancements were performed. A 3mm lower lip advancement and an asymmetric 5/3.5mm upper lip advancement were performed combined with corner of the mouth lifts through a triangular skin excision. At the end of the procedure, the instantaneous size increase and improved lip symmetry could be seen. Between the use of local anesthetic and swelling, the lips looked enormous in size at the completion of the procedure but this will recede to a more normal appearance in 10 to 14 days later.


  1. Lip advancements are the most powerful surgical form of lip augmentation as they affect the whole lip from corner to corner.
  2. Lip advancements are the most effective form of lip asymmetry correction whether it is a partial or complete advancement.
  1. Upper and lower lip advancements done together create the most dramatic effects even at 3mm to 4mms of advancement per lip.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Case Study – Lip Advancements for Permanent Lip Liner Removal

Saturday, December 24th, 2016


Background: The size and shape of the lips has taken on great aesthetic significance over the past two decades. Many makeup, injectable and surgical methods have been devised and are available to enhance one’s lips. The usual goals are to make the lips look bigger with increased vermilion show and projection as well as a more defined upper lip cupid’s bow shape.

Cosmetic tattooing of the lips (also known as micropigmentation) is a well established technique to enhance their color and shape. Colored metallic pigments are implanted into the dermis of the skin or mucosa with an extremely fine needle or cluster of needles. Because it is not surgery or temporary fillers, it is extremely popular as it eliminates the daily use of pencils to outline, fill-in, or reshape lip borders. The permanent color that it provides also decreases the need to reapply lipstick or lip gloss.

One technique of lip tattooing is that of a blended lip liner. This is done by  placing a liner on the lip border which is then shaded inward so it appears as if the person’s lipstick has faded. Some women find this lip tattooing method more appealing than a plain line lip liner which can appear unnatural and very distinct.

Despite its many benefits, lip micropigmentation places pigments that are permanent. Should one later want to remove the lip liner, this can prove difficult to do. The use of a q-switched laser can be used to remove unwanted lip liner. It requires multiple treatments and is not always completely successful.

lip-liner-lips-beforeCase Study: This 24 year-old female had permanent lip liner placed that she ultimately decided she did not like. She did not prefer its color nor the way in which it was placed. (plain line) She wanted the lip liner surgically removed but also wanted her lips bigger at the same time.

lip-advancement-markings-for-lip-liner-removal-dr-barry-eppley-indianapolisPresurgical markings were made for lip advancements that would incorporate the inner border of the lip lines as well as an outer rim of skin for removal. Given that the lip advancements included some vermilion for the lip liner removal, the amount of skin marked to be removed was less than normal.

lip-advancement-marking-and-results-dr-barry-eppley-indianapolislip-advancements-for-lip-liner-removal-result-dr-barry-eppley-indianapolisUnder local anesthesia the undesired vermilion lip liner and marked skin were removed. The remaining vermilion was advanced to the outer edge of the excised skin on the upper and lower lips and closed with 6-0 plain sutures.

Lip advancements are a well known surgical method of lip enhancement. It is a powerful technique because it relocates the vermilion-cutaneous border which makes the lips look bigger and more shapely. It does so with the trade-off of a fine line scar at the vermilion-cutaneous border. But in the properly selected patient that aesthetic trade-off may be worthwhile. Removal of permanent lip liner can be one of those patient groups where it has the advantage of an immediate and assured removal of lip pigment as well as that of larger lips.


1) Lip liner is permanent and can not always be completely removed except by surgical excision.

2) A lip advancement can be done to both simultaneously excise the undesired lip liner and increase the size of the lips.

3) The amount of skin that can be removed for a lip advancement when lip liner is being excised will be less than normally done.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Cupid’s Bow Reduction of the Upper Lip

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016


cupid's bowUnlike the lower lip the shape of the upper lip is marked by the cupid’s bow area. Occupying the central third of the upper lip, its two raised peaks at the end of the philtral columns create a double bow effect. This lip feature is well known and has the cupid’s bow name because its shape resembles that of the bow of Cupid the Roman god of love.

Having a visible or enhanced Cupid’s bow area is usually seen as a desired upper lip feature. Whether done by injection materials or an actual vermilion advancement a more pronounced Cupid’s bow can be obtained in many women.

But not every women considers a prominent Cupid’s bow a desireable lip feature. A few women desire the central lip area to be more rounded and not have two distinct curves to it. This can be achieved by a small procedure known as a Cupid’s Bow Reduction.

Cupid's Bow Reduction markings Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisCupid's Bow Excision intraop Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisBy excising an elliptical segment of skin between the two peaks of the Cupid’ bow the vermilion of the lip is advanced. This will always reduce the prominence of the bow and in some cases eliminate it completely based on the stretch of the upper lip vermilion. This will then given the vermilion line of the upper lip one single continuous long curve as opposed to a double curve effect.

Cupid's Bow Excision before and after results Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisCupid’s bow reduction surgery can be done in the office under local anesthesia and has an immediate effect. The fine line scar as its trade-off usually heals in a near inconspicuous fashion.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Case Study – Subnasal Lip Lift with Lateral Vermilion Advancements

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016


Background: Rejuvenation of a long upper lip can only be reliably done by removing skin somewhere between the nose and the upper lip. The most common procedure to do so is known as the subnasal lip lift. It is more popular and commonly done than its cousin the upper lip advancement due to the less risky scar location along the base of the nose.

But the subnasal lip lift is often misunderstood at to its effect on the upper lip. It is important to realize that this is a central lip enhancement procedure. It will have no effect on the size or shape of the upper lip outside of the cupid’s bow region. This is understandable as the horizontal length of the skin excision at the base of the nose is no wider than the width of the nostrils.

This limited subnasal lip lift effect must be appreciated before surgery to prevent a vermilion fullness imbalance developing across the upper lip. While the height of the vermilion at the cupid’s bow region is always higher than that at the sides, thin lateral upper lips may look even thinner when the central upper lip vermilion becomes fuller.

Case Study: This 44 year-old female wanted to shorten her long upper lip, give the cupid’s bow more of a pout and show a little more upper teeth. But in demonstrating the effect of the upper lip lift, it was a revelation to her that the sides of the upper lips did not change. A concurrent strategy of increasing the height of the vermilion directly at the sides of the upper lip with the lip lift was planned.

Subnasal Lip Lift with Lateral Vermilion Advancement markings dr barry eppley indianapolisHer upper lip enhancement procedure was done under infraorbital nerve blocks with direct local anesthesia infiltration into the base of the nose and the sides of the lips. A subnasal lip lift was done that reduced the skin distance of the upper lip from 18mm to 13mm along the length of the philtral columns. This was combined with a 4mm lateral vermilion advancements from the corner of the mouth to almost the cupid’s bow.

Subnasal Lip Lift with Lateral Vermilion Advancements result front view Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisSubnasal Lip Lift with Lateral Vermilion Advancements result side view Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisHer immediate result showed a total lip enhancement effect of shortening her long upper lip and increasing the vermilion show at the sides of the lip

A subnasal lip lift can not change the sides of the upper lip no matter how it is designed. A simple but often overlooked strategy for a more complete upper lip effect when doing a subnasal lip lift is the lateral vermilion advancement. This avoids a scar along the vermilion-cutaneous junction across the cupid’s bow area where it can be potentially more noticeable.


  1. A subnasal lip lift shortens the vertical distance between the base of the nose and the central upper lip only.
  2. A subnasal lip lift does not increase the height of the vermilion at the sides of the lip.

3. Lateral vermilion advancements are needed with a super lip lift to create a total lip enhancement effect.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Surgical Techniques for Mouth Asymmetry

Friday, November 6th, 2015


Asymmetry of the mouth is not rare and consists of differences in the size and shape of the vermilion and/or the corner of the mouth. One side of the upper lip may be smaller than the other side or the corners of the mouth may be at different horizontal levels. Some patients affected by mouth asymmetry have had it since they were born while others have developed it with aging. Certain medical conditions that affect facial nerve function can also create mouth asymmetry with decreased muscular movement on one side.

The most effective method of improvement in mouth asymmetry, not caused by a nerve dysfunction, is a direct one. Moving the location of the vermilion-cutaneous junction through skin excision is the most visually effective technique. Lifting the skin from distant locations is not going to lift the mouth or improve lip symmetry. No form of a facelift or midface lift is going to affect the mouth area. This is well known in facelift where efforts to lift up drooping corners of the mouth is not successful.

Direct excision for improvements in mouth asymmetry are simple variants of the well known procedures of lip or vermilion advancements and corner of the mouth lifts. These direct excisional methods have been around for decades. Their effectiveness at cosmetic enhancements of the lip and mouth area can not be denied but they have never been widely popular due to the risk/concern of scarring.

Mouth Asymmetry Surgery result Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisFor upper lip asymmetries a smaller side of the lip can be advance upward by a partial vermilion advancement that only goes as far as the cupid’s bow on that side of the lip. This can be combined with an extension into a corner of the mouth lift to create a complete elevation of the lower or hanging side of the mouth. While fine line scars are always a trade-off, they usually heal well when well executed even in high risk patients with intermediate pigment types. (e.g., Hispanics, Asians)

While not appropriate for everyone with mouth asymmetry, utilization of simple and direct procedures such as vermilion advancements and corner of the mouth lifts can be both effective and have acceptable scar lines.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Cupid’s Bow Lift of the Upper Lip

Monday, August 17th, 2015


Augmentation of the upper lip is one of the most commonly done non-surgical facial enhancement procedures. This can usually be successfully done through the use of a variety of different hyaluronic acid-based injectable fillers. Despite their popularity and frequency of use, however, injectable fillers can not solve all aesthetic upper lip concerns. A thin upper lip with little vermilion height often does not respond well to volume addition alone and is prone to result in the dreaded ‘duck lip’ look where most of the filler volume comes horizontally forward rather than increasing vertical vermilion height.

Surgical lip augmentation offers a better result in the thin upper lip because it can alter the location of the vermilion-cutaneous junction…the one anatomic feature by which lip size and shape is mainly judged. This can be done by an ‘upper’ lip procedure known as a subnasal lip lift or a ‘lower’ upper lip procedure known as a vermilion advancement. While very close by location the effects of these two surgical lip procedures can be dramatically different.

One way that they differ is in the effects on the cupid’s bow area. An aesthetically important feature of the upper lip, the cupid’s bow or tubercle, is a double curve of the lip which resembles a bow laid on its side. The peaks of the bow coincide with the vertical philtral columns coming down from the nose giving a prominent bow appearance to the upper lip. While a subnasal lip lift will pull up on the central cupid’s bow area it will really reshape or ‘sharpen up‘ its shape. Only a vermilion advancement can create that change since it changes it directly by skin excision.

Cupid's Bow Augmentation Surgery Technique Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisCupid's Bow Upper Lip Augmentation Surgery Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisA cupid’s bow lift can be created as an isolated procedure (in an upper lip with adequate volume) or can be combined with other lip enhancement procedures such as injectable fillers or a subnasal lip lift. Removing a few millimeters of skin can really change the cupid’s bow appearance even if it is just limited to the peaks of the cupid’s bow alone.

While cupid’s bow augmentation does create a fine line scar at the new vermilion-cutaneous junction it typically heals very well as it is not under undue tension due to the limited resection area.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Case Study – Lip Advancement Revisions

Monday, March 2nd, 2015


Background: Lip augmentations are very popular and are most commonly done with the use of injectable fillers. But not every smaller lip can be satisfactorily augmented by fillers alone and, even when a satisfactory result is achieved, women may eventually tire of the need for repeated injection sessions and their cost.

Lip Advancement Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisA lip advancement is one of the three surgical lip augmentation options which include lip lifts, lip advancements and lip implants. The lip or vermilion advancement procedure is the most effective lip augmentation procedure because it does what ultimately makes lips permanently bigger…it changes the vermilion or pink part of the lip to have more vertical exposure. And it does so from one mouth corner to the other which is what differentiates it from the lip lift which only changes the central part of the upper lift. The lip advancement can be done equally well on the lower lip as well as the upper lip.

The one disadvantage to the lip advancement is that it creates its powerful effect at the expense of a fine line scar at the vermilion-cutaneous border. These lip advancement scars can be very minute and acceptable in most cases. But there is very little tolerance for even the smallest asymmetries in the shape of the lip particularly in the cupid’s bow area.

Lip Advancement Asymmetries Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisCase Study: This 40 year-old female has a prior upper and lower lip advancement  from another surgeon that turned out to have significant lip asymmetries. The cupid’s bow was oriented to the left of the midline and the height of the lower lip vermilion was very different between the two sides. This gave the lips a very unnatural and twisted appearance.

1st Stage Lip Advancement Revision Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisUnder local anesthesia in the office, new lip vermilion edges were marked to realign the lips shape. New skin areas were cut out and the vermilion edges realigned. Her postoperative result showed substantial improvement but healed with some minor scar hypertrophy at the peak of the left cupid’s bow and along the outer thirds of the right lower lip.

2nd stage lip advancement revision Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisA second stage lip revision was done under local anesthesia six months later. The left cupid’s bow was repositioned and the right lower lip hypertrophic scar excised.

Lip Advancement Revisions front view Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisLip Advancement Revisions Indianapolis Dr Barry EppleyAfter two revisions, a satisfactory lip advancement revision result was obtained.

While the concept of lip advancements is simple, its execution requires careful preoperative markings, precise skin cutouts and a meticulous closure. The very visible presence of the lips on the face make any amount of asymmetry or hypertrophic scarring very apparent. Revisions of lip advancement problems usually led to a much improved and more symmetric outcome.

Case Highlights:

1) Lip advancements are technically precise procedures that must be measured before surgery and technically executed carefully.

2) Revisional surgery can salvage asymmetric lip advancement results.

3) It may take more than one revision to optimize lip shape and scar outcomes from adverse lip advancement problems.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Case Study: Upper Lip Advancement in a Man

Monday, April 14th, 2014


Background: There are many options for lip enhancement today of which injectable fillers is by far the most commonly used. But for a permanent change in size, surgical options must be considered. Two basic types of lip lifts exists done either from under the nose (subnasal lip lift)or from the edge of the top of the upper lip. (lip advancement) Each of these has their own advantage sand disadvantages but the very thin (pencil thin) upper lip can only be effectively treated by a lip or vermilion advancement.

The lip advancement procedure works because it physically moves the upper border of the pink portion (vermilion) of the lip upward. (in the case of the upper lip) By so doing, the vertical length of the lip is increased permanently which creates a bigger visible lip appearance. The lip advancement also has the advantage of being able to change and enhance the shape of the cupid’s bow of the upper lip, which frequently is flat in the lip with little vertical vermilion exposure.

While women are most commonly seen as having lip enhancement procedures, men occasionally do as well. Men usually consider lip augmentation for a very thin upper lip not necessarily to make an already decent sized upper lip just a little bigger. Men also do not usually want to have repeated procedures but would prefer a one time permanent result.

Case Study: This 40 year-old male wanted to have a permanent upper lip augmentation. He wanted have an upper lip that matched the size of his lower lip with better accentuation of the cupid’s bow. Interestingly, he had a full goatee that covered much of his upper lip perhaps as a camouflage for his perception of his upper lip size concerns.

Male Lip Advancement markings before surgery Dr Barry Eppley IndianapolisHis upper lip hairs were trimmed back to expose the amount of upper lip advancement to be done. With a calipers, a 4mm skin excision was marked (1/4 of the total philtral length)mwith a cupid’s bow highlight and lack of a taper near the corners of the mouth. Under vestibular local anesthetic blocks with direct upper lip infiltration, the skin was excised and the upper lip advanced along the line of the marks. The incision was closed with 6-0 plain sutures with a few deep 6-0 monocryl sutures. Antibiotic ointment was applied as the dressing.

Male Upper Lip Advancement result fronkt viewMale Upper Lip Advancement result side viewThe final lip advancement result with mature scars was seen four months later. While he still had a goatee, the upper lip scar was virtually undetectable and the increase in the size of the upper lip was doubled.

While there is always a concern about the scar from any lip advancement surgery, that concern is magnified in men. (because they do not ever use lipstick) But my experience in men has shown that the lip advancement scar heals well and is not more of a concern than when done in women.

Case Highlights:

1) Thin upper lip concerns in men, while not as common as in women, can be treated with the same types of lip enhancement techniques.

2) An upper lip or vermilion advancement offers a permanent solution to an improved lip size and shape.

3) Upper lip advancement scars heal well in men ( and perhap better than even in women) presumably due to the hair follicles in the skin.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Case Study: Lip Advancement for Lip Asymmetry

Sunday, October 27th, 2013


Background: The size and shape of the lips is controlled by many factors. But one of the most important is the pink part of the lip known as the vermilion. The size of the lips is largely controlled by the vermilion height of the vermilion. (lip line out to the skin edge or vermilion-cutaneous junction) How vertically long or short the vermilion is determines how one perceives the size of the lips.

Like size, the symmetry of the lips is similarly controlled by the vermilion. Any differences in the height of the vermilion along the lip line will create an obvious lip asymmetry. When it occurs closer to the corner of the mouth, as it most commonly does, it will make the lip look like it is curled inward. This is exaggerated when one smiles as the vermilion is naturally pulled thinner, sometimes making the asymmetry even more noticeable.

Case Study: This 19 year-old male was bothered by a lower lip asymmetry. His right lower lip near the corner was shorter or less full than the rest of the lip. This asymmetry became more obvious as he smiled as the lip pulled up and outward which naturally stretches the vermilion thinner. He was happy with the fullness of the rest of his lip.

The new lower level of the desired vermilion location was marked out to be even with the  vermilion-cutaneous junction of the rest of the lip.

Under local anesthesia, the skin was removed between the pen mark and the natural edge of the vermilion border. The vermilion edge was advanced out and closed to its new skin location with a two layer closure. (dissolveable sutures for the skin) It is usually advised to advance the vermilion out 1mm ore than desired to account for any amount of scar contraction.

Case Highlights:

1) Lip asymmetries caused by differences in vermilion show can be corrected by lip advancement or reduction of the vermilion-cutaneous junction.

2) Subtotal vermilion adjustments can be done under local anesthesia as an office procedure.

3) With animation (smiling) the adjusted lip asymmetry may or may not reappear. Subtotal lip vermilion adjustment are static-based procedures.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Case Study: Surgical Rejuvenation of the Aging Mouth

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013


Background: Aging affects all parts of the face and the mouth area is no exception. The changes of the lips and the perioral tissues are classic and include thinning of the lips, downturning of the corners of the mouth and the development of vertical lip lines. These central facial aging changes are unaffected by more peripheral procedures like a facelift. Rather they require a direct approach to their treatment and are not uncommonly done as part of a facelift to provide a more complete facial rejuvenation effect.

While injectable fillers are the mainstay of younger lip and mouth enhancements, the older aging mouth is less responsive to just pure plumping effects. It needs more help with actual mini-lifting prcedures that are designed just for the lips.

Case Study: This 62 year-old female was bothered by the constant frown of her mouth and the thinning of her upper lip. While she had always had a thinner upper lip, it had gotten even thinner as she has gotten older. Her goal was not to have really big lips but an upper lip that matched the size of her lower lip. But what really bothered her was the downturned corners of her mouth. This made he look mad all the time when she really wasn’t.

A lip rejuvenation plan was marked out that included an upper lip (vermilion) advancement, corner of the mouth lifts and fat injections into her marionette lines.

Under local anesthesia which included infraobital nerve blocks and direct local infiltration into the upper lip, a 3mm vermilion lip advancement was initially done with making the cupid’s bow area more accentuated. The tail ends of the vermilion advancements were left open in preparation for the corner of the mouth lifts. Corner of the mouth lifts were done by making an outward line of 7mms from the corners toward the tragus and turning that into a triangle as it curved toward open end of the lip advancement. Finally, fat was harvested from her abdomen from inside her bellybutton, concentrated and then injected from the bottom end of the marionette lines upward, placing 4ccs of fat per side.

There are many options for turning an aging or unhappy mouth area into a more rejuvenated one. While the most common technique that comes to mind are injectable fillers, they usually are inadequate for older lip and mouth area as the exclusive treatment option. To make lips fuller or to change the smile line in older patients requires skin removal and lifting techniques.

Case Highlights:

1) Lip and perioral aging is often accompanied by a combined thinning of the upper lip and downturning of the corners of the mouth.

2) Corner of the mouth lifts combined with an upper lip advancement creates a more complete lip rejuvenation effect.

3) Most perioral rejuvenation procedures can be performed under local anesthesia as an office procedure.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Dr. Barry EppleyDr. Barry Eppley

Dr. Barry Eppley is an extensively trained plastic and cosmetic surgeon with more than 20 years of surgical experience. He is both a licensed physician and dentist as well as double board-certified in both Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. This training allows him to perform the most complex surgical procedures from cosmetic changes to the face and body to craniofacial surgery. Dr. Eppley has made extensive contributions to plastic surgery starting with the development of several advanced surgical techniques. He is a revered author, lecturer and educator in the field of plastic and cosmetic surgery.

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