Lip Lift vs. Lip Injections: What’s the Difference?

Written by Minas Constantinides, MD, FACS, Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon on February 4, 2021 No Comments

lip lift or lip injections

Plump, fuller lips are more popular than ever, thanks in part to pop culture icons such as Kylie Jenner. Today’s lip augmentation procedures can create naturally enhanced results through relatively quick and easy outpatient procedures. Lip enhancement can be achieved through either surgical (lip implant or lip lift surgery) or non-surgical (lip injection) techniques, each of which have their own pros or cons.

In this post, we will compare lip lift surgery (surgical lip augmentation) with lip injections (non-surgical lip augmentation).

What Is Lip Lift Surgery?

Lip lift surgery is an ideal solution for individuals with a long, sagging upper lip. This refers to the space from the bottom of your nose to the upper edge of the colored part of your lip. As collagen production and lip volume decrease with age, the upper lip elongates, causing the top lip to roll under and appear thinner. An elongated upper lip may cause the top lip to hang below the top of the upper teeth when smiling, covering and impeding the smile.

Lip lift surgery shortens this space and slightly flips the colored part of the top lip outward, creating a subtle, natural looking pout that appears larger and fuller than before. If these changes are age-related, it restores the lip to how it looked 10 to 15 years before. A lip lift can even be performed in younger patients with a naturally long upper white lip.

How Lip Lift Surgery is Performed

A lip lift is an in-office procedure that is normally performed under local anesthesia. An incision is made in the crease just below the nostrils. Excess skin is then removed, the supporting fascia of the lip is lifted, and the incision is closed.

Lip Lift Recovery Time

As with any other surgical procedure, scarring from lip lift surgery is possible. However, experienced plastic surgeons will place their incisions in areas where the scar is hidden by contours of the face. Stitches are removed 5-7 days after the procedure, and bruising and swelling typically subside within two weeks. Sometimes scars may benefit from lasers if they are more visible than ideal.

Lip lift procedures offer long term results. With age, it’s possible there will be a further decrease in collagen and future elongation of the upper lip, but this is rare.

What Are Lip Fillers or Lip Injections?

Non-surgical lip augmentation is achievable through lip fillers (lip injections) that use various dermal fillers including Juvederm, Restylane, Belotero, or fat transfer using the patient’s own harvested fat from another area. Lip fillers can be injected into the lips to increase fullness, smooth lines and wrinkles, and correct any drooping of the corners of the mouth. Lip augmentation through lip injections is a quick and safe way to increase lip volume and improve the lip’s shape and contour.

Contrary to popular belief, the results of lip injections can be made to look very natural. Skilled injectors strive avoid “overdone looks” by applying the correct amount of filler in the necessary places to create enhanced lips that still match the aesthetics of each patient. Filler-plumped lips feel no different than natural lips when the procedure is performed by an experienced injector.

How Lip Fillers Treatments are Performed

Lip injections take place in-office after the application of a topical numbing cream. Most fillers contain lidocaine, which also reduces pain. Your doctor can control the amount of dermal filler injected, and will slowly add more until the desired volume is achieved.

Lip Injection Recovery Time

After lip injections, the lips are swollen for 2-3 days. While some minor bruising is normal, it typically subsides within one week.

Lip fillers last for approximately 6-12 months before the natural filler is reabsorbed by the body. To maintain the plump-lip look over a longer period, patients typically undergo maintenance treatment sessions, typically once per year.

Comparison: Lip Lift vs. Lip Fillers


Lip lifts focus on shortening the space between the nose and the upper lip in order to enhance the symmetry of the overall face. While the procedure does make the lips appear fuller, lip lift surgery is not focused on increasing lip volume. In contrast, lip fillers work by directly adding volume to the lips. Lip injections can be used to create a plump, fuller pout and to reduce the appearance of wrinkles that occur on the surface of the lips. Some patients will benefit from both procedures: Lip lifting shortens the white lip and rolls the red lip up and out, so thin lips look fuller. Then lip filler can further enhance the results.

Result Duration

The results of lip fillers are temporary, lasting approximately 6-12 months. This is why lip injections are a great way for first-time patients to try out lip enhancement before opting for a more permanent change. Lip lift surgery results are permanent and can last a lifetime with proper aftercare.

Recovery Time

Both lip lifts and lip injections offer immediately visible results, but a lip lift requires more downtime as incisions heal. With lip injections, you can be event-ready within 2-3 days after the swelling subsides.


Not everyone reacts well to dermal fillers. Some are allergic to injectables, or have had past trouble with dermal filler migrating beyond the lip border, or causing lumps or asymmetry. If you have allergies or have had a less-than-perfect lip filler experience, a lip-lift may be a good alternative.

Facial Structure

If you have a long upper lip, a lip lift will avoid the notorious ‘duck lip’ that lip fillers are unfortunately known for. Adding lip filler to a thin top lip may emphasize a long upper lip by creating more fullness at the bottom. A lip lift provides fullness and reduces the length of the upper lip.


Minas Constantinides, MD, FACS

Dr. Minas Constantinides is a board-certified Facial Plastic Surgeon at Westlake Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in Austin, Texas. He is on the Executive Committee of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) and is a Senior Advisor of the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ABFPRS).

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