I've always had a thin upper lip, which made me...
I've always had a thin upper lip, which made me look stern at rest. Questions like "What's wrong?" And "Are you upset?" became my life's torment. Men often said I looked bitchy and unapproachable and I would have random strangers telling me to smile. I'm generally considered pretty, but my self esteem was in the toilet and I became depressed and overly defensive about my resting "b*tch" face. I started looking into injections and the nurse convinced me that adding volume to my upper lip would help. I got a full syringe in my upper lip, and when the initial swelling went down, the downward sloping portions of my lip, which were thin to begin with, went inwards, while the top middle went out, resulting in the dreaded duck lips. Over the years, I tried different injectors, played with the volume, but the results were either completely unnoticeable or I looked like I could be Daffy Duck's long lost twin. I gave up and didn't have anything injected for about 5 years.
Then, I decided I wanted to try again, because as I was aging, my lip was becoming ever more stern. I started googling around about what caused duck lips with fillers and came across Dr. Rodriguez's video explaining the benefits of a lip lift vs fillers and it was like a complete epiphany. He says in the video that if you don't have upper tooth show, you are almost guaranteed duck lips after fillers. I've never been able to see my upper teeth with a slightly open mouth but until I saw the video and pulled my lip up in front of the mirror to reveal my top teeth, I had no idea what a difference it makes. Just a few extra millimeters of skin and it's like a 5 year difference! I was immediately sold on the procedure, and having reviews Dr. R's credentials, I was sold on him. I immediately made an appointment to have a virtual consultation with him. Realizing the challenges of traveling after surgery, especially the dreaded airplane trip back with people undoubtedly staring, I was a bit hesitant about doing the procedure out of state. However, after the consultation, I felt very comfortable with proceeding with Dr. Rodriguez.
I didn't think about it for a very long and scheduled the procedure right around Thanksgiving so that I would have more time off to recover. I had read on here that you could cover up the incision with make up after about a week, but I was honestly hoping for a quicker recovery. I work in the service sector and have to see people every day, so I don't have the luxury of staying at home and recovering for a very long time.
Because I had to drive myself to the airport after the procedure, I did not take any Valium before hand. Although I was obviously nervous before the procedure, Dr. Rodriguez and his staff made me feel very comfortable and as calm as I could possibly be given the circumstances.
The procedure itself starts out with two very painful numbing shots. I don't have very high pain tolerance and would estimate that these are about a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10. I close my eyes for the shots, because I don't really do needles well. Your face goes numb very quickly after that and they put draping cloths over your face, so don't worry, you were not going to see anything and pass out. My one mistake in preparing for the procedure was putting my hair in a loose ponytail before I put the hairnet on. Although the ponytail was loose, after laying on it for about 30 minutes, I became extremely uncomfortable and had to ask Dr. Rodrigues to stop stitching and move my pillow because I couldn't take the pain anymore. I think the whole thing took about an hour or a little bit less. He removed a total of about 4 mm. He warned me before the procedure that I would look absolutely terrifying immediately afterwards so not to panic. However when I got up from the operating table, he said that mine didn't look that bad. Not wanting to faint if things were really bad, I decided to just put on the surgical mask that they were nice enough to give me for the plane ride and not look at it until I got home.
The days that followed have been a roller coaster, to be honest. When I first looked at what I had done, I was ecstatic that I could finally see my top teeth. My nose was, and still is completely disfigured by the swelling, and my nostrils are enormous, which makes me look like a pig. I have brought a lot of posts on here where people were complaining about nose distortion, and it seems most of those people saw the swelling go down after some weeks, and their nose return to normal, so that's what I'm hoping for. I guess it's still too early to tell as I write this eight days after the surgery. I will post additional pictures with a brief descriptions of what my face was doing on various days after the procedure.
The freakout begins on day 5
So, like I mentioned in my summary, this process is very much an emotional roller coaster. If you're considering this procedure, you have to be ready for that. In my case, I liked the proportionality of my lip during the major swelling. I knew the swelling would go down, and I didn't want my lip that freakishly large, but I was hoping that the shape would remain more or less the same, just smaller. that didn't exactly happen. By way of background, I decided to get the lip lift for two reasons: 1) I wanted my upper teeth to show, and 2) those pesky inward dropping corners of my mouth. I elected NOT to get the corner lift because that wasn't really my issue. Pre-op, the line of my mouth was more or less a straight, horizontal line, and I was OK with this. I think that if I turned my corners upward, it would make me look unnatural. I just wanted more of my lip in the corners to show. When you look at my day 2 photos, that result seemed to be accomplished, however, on day 5, my outer top lip started dropping, while the top middle was still pulled up. It was worse than all the bad injections. And the corners of my mouth, which used to be a straight line, now pointed downward, making me look extremely angry. At this point, I started freaking out and called the doctor. He told me that it's too early to tell at this stage and that since I still had a lot of swelling in my face, my lip would reshape as the swelling went down. I wanted to be optimistic, I really did, but this is my face and thoughts of "what the hell did I do to myself? maybe I should have researched this better? maybe i should have waited and consulted with more doctors" started to creep in. I do have some discoloration along my outer vermilion border, so I thought maybe my eyes are playing ticks on me because of that. I tried using lip liner on the outer edges only to make them a bit fuller. The result: I looked like an angry pig. At this point, I was certain that I regretted the whole thing and that I made a mistake.
Looks better after the glue is off
I think things are starting to fall into place. When I had my freak out call with Dr. Rodriguez, who, I would like to add was very comforting and understanding, he also asked me if my glue was starting to come off. I told him that it had not, and he suggested that I start gently prying it loose with a q-tip moistened in peroxide. I did this, very gently. My suggestion to anyone doing this is, first of all, don't do it unless your doctor tells you, and secondly, take your time. You don't want to pull on the incision or the stitches. I used the q-tip method Dr. R suggested, starting at the outer edge of the glue, and as a small piece came loose, I would snip it back with manicure scissors. The whole process took nearly an hour, but I don't think I tugged anything, which is good. The immediate effect of the glue being off was that my nose started to look smaller, because it kind of dropped, and wasn't protruding over the hard line of the glue anymore. That alone made things look significantly better. My cupid's bow started to look less taught, and my lip immediately looked more proportional. A little bit of the glue seemed to persistently want to stay on, and I didn't want to undue a stitch or open the incision, so I just left it there. I was starting to gain confidence that everything was going to be OK. Mood: cautiously optimistic.
Day 9 - New day; new reason to panic!
So now that the glue is completely off I can see the incision a lot better. The right side of my nose isn't as smooth as my left, there seems to be more swelling there and the incision is more red and puffy. At the top, near the upper edge of my nostril, there is a tiny little hole, I guess from a torn stitch. I will ask Dr. R about this in my follow-up. Although I think I like the shape of my mouth, which is overall more proportional now, and the tooth show, I am concerned that my incision might be too low. I don't really see how this is going to hide under my nose. The other photos I saw showed the incision going inside the nostril to help hide it better, but mine goes out and below. Please, someone tell me this is OK and will "tuck in" when the swelling goes down!
Panicking about tooth show
I feel like I'm getting a little less tooth show today. I'm hoping not to lose it entirely.
On the upswing
I actually really like the shape of my lip and even though I'd like a tiny bit more tooth show and I'm scared about my scar, overall, I'm very satisfied. I think I was getting panicky in part because I hadn't taken a look at my before and after pics side by side. When I did look, I was convinced that there was a vast improvement. Like I said before, this is definitely an emotionally charged experience, so be ready to go through a range of feelings about your results.
I'm officially in the "worth it" camp
As my swelling goes down, I like my results more and more. I do think the sides of my top lip are still a bit thin, so I may get fillers later, but for now, I can just fix it with lip liner. Overall, I'm satisfied with the results and I'm happy I did it. The improvement is subtle but I feel like it has made me look more youthful and less stern, so my goals were basically accomplished. For some reason I can't change my I initial rating of "not sure" to "worth it" while I post from the mobile app, so I will try to update it from my desktop tomorrow. Until then, here's a side by side before and after.
random side effects/ things to be aware of
So I wanted to add a few thoughts about how this feels. I have not felt any pain at all since day 2. On day 1, I was in lots of pain because I had an allergic reaction to my pain meds and couldn't keep taking them. By the time I got home and could call Dr. R about it, I didn't really need them. Good thing I got generic, so it's not a complete waste. The doctor warned me that I might have shooting or stabbing pains from time to time during the healing process. This has been very minimal. Maybe twice over the last week and a half, and very brief.
My lip did feel very tight right away, so much so that I couldn't smile for the first week. However, that continues to improve every day. Now, I can smile, although it still looks kind of fake. I'm not sure if that's from the swelling or from the new position of my lip. I'm considering veneers anyway, so I will have to see how it all looks once those are in.
I've had very, very dry lips since the procedure, so now I have to keep lip balm around at home, in the car, at the office, pretty much everywhere I go. I've seen some other people comment that this happened to them. I'm hoping it's temporary.
I also feel like I have a runny nose all the time, however, my tissue comes up dry, so it must be some kind of false sensation, maybe from the numbness. Has anyone else had this? It feels really weird!
Two and a half weeks - scar and swelling
I feel like my scar is finally starting to heal. The skin on either side of the incision is beginning to fuse, which makes it easier to cover with makeup. You can definitely see that there's something weird going on with my nose, but you really have to look for it when I have makeup on. You almost can't see anything on the sides of my nostrils. The party is all underneath my nose. I do have this weird, somewhat raised line running alongside the right side bottom of my incision, but it covers up with makeup. Does anyone have anything similar? Is this going to be a part of my scar? My columella is still quite swollen and almost completely numb and there's a hard, numb spot right underneath it. I'm guessing that my flared nostrils are the result of this little phenomenon, and I just pray this is temporary. If my nose goes back to even 90% normal, I'll be completely satisfied with this procedure. At this point, it's just a waiting game, which sucks when you're impatient like me.
How to cover up the scar/incision
Like many others, I was not able to take a significant amount of time off work, so the question of how to cover up the incision came up rather quickly for me. I was seeing clients 7 days after I underwent this procedure. So let me just say that there's probably not a Hollywood special effects artist out there that can completely hide your incision in the first 7-10 days. People will notice. The rude ones, who have already more or less guessed what you did, will still ask, just to satisfy their curiosity. My back story was sinus surgery.
Anyway, back to covering up this bad boy the best we can...Based on my own healing and my doctor's post op instructions, I first tried cover ups on day 10. I thought I would do a post on what methods and products worked for me.
My skin likes to play games with me, so my typical beauty routine involves a rotation of about 5-7 foundations. I'm discussing only 3 here because the results from the others were not even worth talking about.
If your skin still hasn't fully fused along the incision, you may want to think twice about wearing any type of cover up. Once you are ready to wear cover up, these are my tips.
Tip 1: use a water based, almost runny product.
The watery texture will help you get the product into the grooves and work it into the texture of your scar. This helps hide the redness.
Tip 2: Do not use setting powder!
When you apply powder, you immediately make that whole area cakey. I've tried different powders and application techniques, and I found no way to avoid it. Bottom line, it looks better with just the coverup/foundation. For this same reason, I would avoid using thick, gooopy concealers. The eye will be drawn to the texture.
Tip 3: put the foundation inside your nostrils
It didn't occur to me right away to do this, but since your nostrils are flared and red from the swelling and bruising, making them the same color as your skin around them helps them blend in.
Tip 4: use a concealer brush to work the product into the creases
This is self explanatory. Brushes can go where your fingers can't (or shouldn't) go. Like up your nose. ;)
Below are pics of the three products I had the best luck with. I tried to stand in the same light. Now sure why the pics uploaded upside down but it's almost better for looking at my incision.
Let me know if you have any questions!
A bit worried about my incision
I feel like my incision is too red for being three weeks post op and I'm concerned because the other people I am following on here appear to have significantly more fused incisions at this stage, not showing the indent along the incision like I still am. My indent is visible even with makeup and I'm terrified that maybe my skin won't fuse and I'll always have that hairline groove there. Aren't scars supposed to be raised rather than indented?
I'm much happier with my nose and do feel like my nostrils are less flared and columella is less swollen but I'm not completely happy with the shape of my incision. As I understand it this is called a bullhorn lip lift because when the incision dips up into the insides of your nostrils it creates a wavy line that resembles a bull's horns, but mine is more of just an even crescent with the incision not dipping inside my nostrils. I fear that this will make it permanently visible, especially if my skin doesn't fuse all the way.
Any feedback from you all would be much appreciated bevause I am freaking out.
Incision is getting better, nose is going back to normal
I went out of town for the holidays and forgot my Mederma scar cream at home. I had plans to buy another tube when I arrived, but got caught up and never did, so at this point, I have not used scar cream in about 5 days. What's interesting is that my incision is much less red, almost to the point of being unnoticeable, even without makeup. Coincidence? Maybe. My scar is finally starting to fuse (thanks for all the reassurance, jaubrey, you were so right) and at this point it pretty much does not look like I had anything done. My upper lip still slopes down a bit more sharply than I would like, but I would also like to point out that this is basically how my lip was shaped before the LL, but you couldn't tell as much because not much of it was visible. I plan on having the shape corrected either with fillers or permanent makeup. Will post pics later today.
Full face before and afters
Not sure how long I'll leave up the full face pics, but I think it takes seeing the whole picture to appreciate how awesome this procedure is. At about six weeks out, my scar is still red enough to be seen without makeup, but more like "tissue burn" you get during a cold than an incision. It's mostly fused on the right, and is starting to have a raised and shiny quality to it. On the left, I still have an area with a depression along the curve of my nose, but I expect that to remove itself in the next few weeks. My slope is also getting better. I think I'll probably end up getting fillers in the end, but it's really more for the wow factor than out of necessity. I think my lip already looks normal without it. I'm super duper excited about being able to wear bright lipstick, which is something I felt accentuated my thin, stern lip too much in the past. Oh, and the BEST PART is that not a single random stranger has asked me to smile or asked me why I'm upset in response to my resting face. The resting bitch face is finally gone!
It's sooo itchy (and more before & after pics)
I've been going nuts the last couple of days from all the itching. My previous issues of feeling like my nose is always runny and chronicly chapped lips have given way to this new monster - itching literally 24/7. It's hard to keep any cover up on the incision because I'm always scratching. I'm going to have to go pick up some itch cream.
Some people have asked me to post head on before & afters. It was really hard for me to find a pic head on where I didn't overdraw my lip, but hopefully these pics help you see the difference!
Pic with no foundation
As requested. Sorry about the bad lighting.
Just a bit past 2 months
29 Jan 2016
2 months post
Most of the tightness under my nose is gone and I think the nostrils are mostly back to normal. At least I don't notice a difference anymore. I have more or less 100% upper lip mobility now too. I can pout, do a fish face and duck lips, sip through a straw, etc. The scar is not as red anymore and sometimes, when my makeup rubs off towards the end of the day, I don't bother reapplying it. No one notices the scar. And I'm happy to report that still no random strangers have ordered me to smile!
More than a year after - still visible scar and nostril flare
I wanted to provide an update since it has been a year since I had the procedure. Overall, I'm still glad I did it, but the results are by no means perfect. All the doctors here tell you to be patient, that the swelling goes away completely and that the nostril flare is all in your head if you are a year out or more. My swelling has gone down, but my nose shape has changed, I fear permanently. My nostrils look very flared in photos, unless I make a conscious effort to tilt my head down. I had some asymmetry to my nostrils before, but now that they are bigger, it is that much more obvious. It's probably not bad enough to where others would notice, but it bothers me, to the point to where I am considering some kind of rhinoplasty to get it taken care of. My incision was always more of a turned up crescent than a bullhorn, which the doctor explained was a function of my anatomy, but I wish he had gone more inside my nostrils, because the scar is still visible and it's actually outside, several millimeters below my nose. Like others, I have a good side and a bad side to my scar. One side of my nose does have a deep scar, where the skin on each side does not meet. It's visible when I am not wearing makeup. Makeup covers it up to the point to where you wouldn't notice from several feet away, but if you're in my face (kissing, etc), you would be able to see it. I'm still glad I did it, but the nose flare bothers me so much. I'd love to hear comments from anyone who still had flaring at 12 months, but it subsided later. Someone give me hope!