The subnasal lip lift is one of the more popular procedures performed by our surgeons at the Hilger Face Center in Minneapolis, MN. Learn more about the subnasal lip lift, including what’s involved, who it’s suited for, and what you can expect afterwards.


In recent years, volume loss and imbalances in the lip and mouth area have been popular topics in the general media and in medical publications. Lip augmentation using injectable fillers has become an increasingly popular treatment option for patients and has been subject to a great deal of attention.

At Hilger Face Center, we’ve found that a surgical procedure, the subnasal lip lift, often provides fantastic results to patients. The surgery involves creating balance between the top of the lips and the area where the lips and chin meet. The goal of a subnasal lip lift isn’t to simply create a fuller lip or to enhance the volume of the lip. Our surgeons believe that creating harmony and balance in the lip is essential to creating an appealing appearance. To do this, they divide the distance from the bottom of the nose to the chin into thirds.

The distance from the base of the nose to the line where the lips touch should be one third of the distance from the nose to the chin. In addition, the section above the red lip should be concave, there should be a small ridge or pout where the red portion begins and the red portion should be convex. The upper lip should protrude slightly more than the lower lip, but the lower lip should have more volume and fullness.

The lip can be flat or long in some people either due to aging or hereditary reasons. Additionally, some patients have a longer upper portion of the lip, either as a result of aging or genes. The subnasal lip lift will shorten the portion of the lip and add volume to the rest of the lip. As a result, the lips look fuller and more youthful.


A subnasal lip lift elevates the top portion of the lip and reduces the distance between the upper lip and bottom of the nose. The result is a smile that is fuller and more youthful.

The ideal candidates for a subnasal lip lift are people with a very long upper lip. The upper lip hoods the top row of teeth so that there isn’t much tooth shown when a person smiles. Other good candidates for the surgery are those with diminished volume in the lip.

When performed on its own, a subnasal lip lift takes less than 30 minutes and is performed in an office setting, using local anesthesia. It’s possible to combine the surgery with other facial plastic surgery procedures, such as a facelift. Recovery after a subnasal lip lift can take up to seven days. Patients can experience some mild, temporary bruising in the area.

A subnasal lip lift is most commonly performed in an office setting. The surgery can also be performed with other procedures, in which case it is typically performed in a surgical setting.

When a subnasal lip lift is performed on its own, only local anesthesia is used. When it is performed with additional procedures, sedation or a general anesthetic might be given, depending on the surgery.

To begin the surgery, Dr. Hilger or Dr. Lyford-Pike will make a very small incision at the junction between the nose and lip. The surgeons usually make the incision in the natural crease of the area, so that it is well concealed. After making the incision, a small, curved strip of skin is trimmed away, to lift the lip area. The resulting wound is stitched up with sutures. Most of the sutures will be removed within 5 to 7 days. Some of the sutures are dissolvable and will fade on their own.

If a subnasal lip lift is performed on its own, it can take less than 30 minutes.

Yes, you can combine a subnasal lip lift with a variety of other facial surgeries and cosmetic treatments. Some patients undergo a lip lift at the same time as a facelift, for example. Combining a facelift and lip lift helps provide a patient with a more thorough facial rejuvenation. It’s also common to combine a lip lift with dermabrasion or another skin resurfacing treatment. Some people decide to combine a lip lift with other lip augmentation procedures. In addition for some patients with a very thin red lip, fillers or connective tissue grafts placed in the lip will create the most flattering result. The options that are available to you will depend on your specific goals and the amount of time you have for recovery.

Although there will likely be a scar after a subnasal lip lift, the size of the incision made and the location of the incision means that the scar is usually very difficult to see. It is often a very fine line that is hidden by the shadow of the nose.

Usually, patients take about a week off after a subnasal lip lift. Sutures are usually left in place for five to seven days after the surgery, plus many people have bruising and prefer to avoid being seen by friends and colleagues. After a week, it is usually fairly easy to cover up any remaining bruises with makeup.

You can participate in light physical activity, such as taking a walk, the day after your surgery. In fact, Drs. Hilger and Lyford-Pike encourage patients to move a little to help minimize swelling and discomfort. It’s usually best to wait about a week after your surgery before resuming more vigorous forms of exercise, such as bicycling and running.

Since you’ll want to avoid putting pressure on the lip and nasal area, it’s recommended that you avoid activities such as diving or snorkeling for at least two weeks after your surgery. If you have any questions about specific activities, please ask your surgeon.

All surgeries have risks, but having the procedure performed by board-certified, highly trained and qualified surgeon helps dramatically reduce those risks. Potential risks include infection and unwanted scarring, but both are very rare.