Suggestions on how to address upper lip? (photo)

I've always felt like my lips were too small. I've spent quite a bit of time examining them and I think my main problem is with my upper lip. It's very small and 50% of it is hidden. I've used a Q-tip to pull it up just to see how it would look and it is significantly bigger. I'm only 18 years old so I've never had any work done. I'm wondering if maybe a lip lift would help to solve my problem? In the short term, would Juvederm make any difference? Or any filler for that matter. Thank you!

Doctor Answers 8

Solutions for a Thin Upper Lip

Hi Serena,

A lip lift would shorten the distance between the bottom of your nose and the top of your upper lip. The industry standard for an “ideal” upper lip length is between 12-15mm. There are two types of upper lip lift surgery. The first type removes excess skin from the junction between the top of the lip and the skin above. This approach is also called a lip roll because it repositions the top lip to roll slightly upwards. Unfortunately, this method can leave a visible scar. The second, more popular type of upper lip lift removes the excess skin from below the nose (called a subnasal upper lip lift). This way the scar is well hidden below the nose. This procedure is often used with older patients who tend to scar better because of the loose character of their skin.

Surgical procedures are a serious decision and there are many non-surgical options that can help you achieve the facial balance and symmetry you are looking for.

Dermal fillers like Restylane®, JUVEDERM®, and RADIESSE® can be used to provide volume to the lips as well as strategically fill in areas that need extra plumping to even out the appearance of the entire lip.

The other great thing about using fillers is that you can get an idea of the fullness you’d like to achieve without the commitment of a surgical procedure that will last forever. Lip augmentation using fillers typically lasts 4-6 months, so it could be a great starting point for you.


Bay Area Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

Lip Lift Or Fillers?

Thank you for your question and photo!  I would suggest you seek a board certified plastic surgeon, and have a consultation on which fillers would be best for your lips!  Best of luck!
Dr Dhaval Patel Double Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Chicago Hoffman Estates Oak Brook

Dhaval M. Patel, MD
Hoffman Estates Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 79 reviews

Nonsurgical Lip Augmentation With Volumizers & Fillers Can Restore Proper Proportions To The Lips

For lips to look natural, the upper lip, in side view, should project slightly more than the lower lip, in a ratio of approximately 1.5X more than the outward projection of the lower lip. In front view, the ratio is reversed. In vertical height, the ideal lower lip should be approximately 1.5X that of the upper lip. For the body of the lips, I generally prefer Juvederm UltraPlus XC.

The size and shape MUST be tailored to the size, shape and characteristics of each and every patient.

Unfortunately, all too many inexperienced injectors have created lips that in side view look
"duck like" or what has been called the "trout pout" and in front view appear like "sausage" lips. This comes from a lack of awareness of the appropriate and natural proportions of the lips in relation to each other and to the surrounding skin and that any exaggeration of these proportions can give rise to the undesirable results just described. The intent of treatment is not to have a person's lips enter the room before she does. You should seek consultation with a board certified core aesthetic physician with extensive experience in treating lips nonsurgically.

Nelson Lee Novick, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

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Upper Lip Options

The “rules” of lips are usually to have the lower lip a bit more full than the upper lip, but the true rules of beauty are that every person is different! Yes you could enhance the upper lip with Juvederm or Restylane, but I would go slow, maybe only one unit, which is one syringe, and live with the improvement before you do more. When you make these changes in baby steps you can find the style that’s you. Secondly, why not give some thought to the chin. The chin is part of what we see with lips and part of the art of fillers is “a little bit here and a little bit there”. Using Juvederm to soften the chin crease and broaden in a gentle way would also give more definition to the lips.

Douglas J. Key, MD
Portland Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Injectable Filler Before Subnasal Lip Lift

You should try an injectable filler first into the upper lip just to see if it produces a positive improvement. But a subnasal lip lift appears to be the better permanent solution. But it is a good idea to do a reversible filler first to be sure.

Enhancement of Upper Lip With Juvederm

One option you may want to consider is lip augmentation with hyaluronic acid dermal fillers. Examples would include Juvederm and Restylane. Hyaluronic acid is a natural carbohydrate compound that is found throughout the body. It is an excellent lubricant and agent for augmenting tissue. This is largely due to its ability to hold water. When it is used as an injection, the results can look quite natural due because of these properties.

Lip enhancement can produce a wide range of outcomes depending on the placements of the injections. For example, many women opt for a very plump upper lip with a flattened cupids bow. However, the injector can also raise and accentuate the cupid’s bow. Here is a video of a patient before and after her Juvederm procedure.

Sanusi Umar, MD
Redondo Beach Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Lip lift

I agree with Dr Kabaker: a lip lift would be your first choice. Lip augmentation will not roll your lip up but will increase the volume of the visible part.

Vartan Mardirossian, MD
Jupiter Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Lip surgery

Based on this picture I would highly consider a subnasal lip lift before thinking about lip augmentation. 

Sheldon S. Kabaker, MD FACS
San Francisco Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.