Lip Lift Journal (Photos!) - Beverly Hills, CA

I've always hated my mouth. When I was a child,...

I've always hated my mouth.

When I was a child, it was an awkward shape and wouldn't close properly.

As a teen, I was teased about having a "big mouth" or a "monkey mouth."

In my twenties, things improved a little -- I guess I finally grew into my mouth.

Then, in my thirties, I started doing face exercises, and my mouth improved even more. But I always hated being photographed -- I usually smiled a big smile or put on a goofy face because I felt so insecure about my mouth.

Then, when I was 35 or so, I had to have stitches next to my nose. Unfortunately, it lifted that side of my mouth ever so slightly Dang! Now I had an awkward AND crooked mouth. Talk about adding injury to insult (ha ha).

Fast forward to my (eek!) fifties. I noticed that I had a lot of facial tension -- I couldn't relax my mouth. And I was getting these smoker's lines even though I don't smoke.

After a lot of massage, I found out that, for nearly twenty years, I had been "pursing" my lips into a "nicer" shape. And when I finally learned how to relax my mouth, YIKES!!! I didn't even recognize myself!! Who was that mean old witch staring back at me in the mirror?!

I decided to fix my mouth for once and for all -- I would get a lip lift to (a) reduce the length of my 20mm upper lip, and (b) adjust the crookedness.

I researched a lot of doctors, and decided on Dr. Andrew Frankel in Beverly Hills. I chose him because of the photos in his gallery, because lip lifts was one of the procedures he featured on his website (surgeons who don't do them often don't usually feature them on their websites). I also considered him because he is a specialist in rhinoplasty and revision rhinoplasty -- I figured that anyone who does a LOT of rhinoplasties has got to be really good at stitching up the nostril area under the nose.

When I met Dr. Frankel, I was impressed. He answered my questions and spent a good amount of time looking at my mouth and measuring it. His suggestions of how he would go about correcting the asymmetry sounded good. And to make matters better, he was soooo pleasant -- and there was easy parking. How's THAT for Beverly Hills??!!

So, I booked my date and anxiously waited for the big day....


The surgery center was lovely. The nurses were so nice! And my little recovery room was cozy and cute (not that I had to spend long there -- I didn't receive general anesthesia).

I was awake for most of the surgery and, except for a few little pulls around the sides of my nose, I didn't feel a thing. I have had a LOT of dental work, and I was worried that this surgery would be just as stressful. Not so! The lip lift surgery was a very soothing experience. ;-P

Afterwards, when my hubby came into the recovery room, he didn't flinch (what a man!) despite the fact that I looked like a red-haired Daffy Duck. Well... I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

I will update this review as my healing progresses. Wish me luck!

Day 2... The swelling of the swelling!

First of all, thanks very much for the nice well-wishes. ;-)

OMG, people aren't t kidding when they say that Day 2 is worse, as you can see in my photos.

A few general comments:

-- I look very "crusty" with blood. I am scared to scrape it off because of the potential for scarring -- I don't want to disturb the actual scab, so I'm letting it flake off "naturally" which happens little by little when I apply my 2x or 3x daily Aquaphor (which I like better than Vaseline). ALSO, I did not get the "glue" that surgeons like to apply to incisions. This is because I am latex sensitive, and I might have reacted to the adhesive in the glue. I would look a LOT "cleaner" if I had the glue, and hopefully the lack of glue doesn't give me a bigger scare... I mean, scar.

-- The outer sutures are quite visible, and it doesn't look like there are a LOT of them... but there are lots of stitches... layer upon layer of sutures. Dr. Frankel told me that he put over one hundred stitches in there. Sheesh! My hubby cut his chin open last year. We went to an emergency clinic, and they put only 10 stitches in his face. Luckily, he didn't get a scar because of the location of the gash.

-- Pain was pretty bad last night. I am terrified of getting hooked on pain medications, so I try not to take the strong stuff. Anyway, I was trying to get through the night with just extra strength Tylenol, but I broke down in the middle of the night and took the prescription Hydroco. Then I slept better. In fact, I ended up snoozing until 1:00 pm!!! I feel much better, despite the swelling, and so far have only needed the Tylenol today. Yay!

-- To elevate my head, I slept which my upper body on a pile of pillows, feeling like The Princess And The Pea. Why don't they call the story, The Princess ON The Pea?!

- I am ravenously hungry, but I can't chew. My hubby, bless him, is at Whole Foods right now getting me a couple of containers of soup. I'm going with the Chicken and Red Rice soup and the Salt-free Vegetable soup because (a) they aren't spicy, (b) lower sodium (helps keep the swelling down), and (c) they have very little Gluten -- in addition to latex, I am gluten sensitive. The last thing I need is to swell up any more!!

Hopefully tomorrow I will look more normal. Except for my hubby and you guys (people reading this review), I haven't let anyone see me. I have three kids -- two are out of town doing the college thing, but the youngest is still at home. He knows I had surgery, but I haven't let him see my face yet. Luckily, I've been sleeping a lot, and he's been really busy and taking take of his own food, etc. Bless him. ;-)

Zombie face!

Yay, the swelling is starting to resolve. Not as much as I would like, but it's getting there.

I'm obviously healing nicely, but I'm nit-picking at myself because there's not much else for me to do. (I'd love to be doing housework, but I not supposed to bend over. Hey, a girl can only do just so many squats to pick up the dang dog toys!)

Nitpick concern #1: As the swelling fades, there is a "drawstring" (puckering) effect on my face -- see the Day 3 photos. I hope it's not permanent because I don't fancy becoming a walking, talking pair of boxer shorts!

Nitpick concern #2: The lower half of my face is a sickly green color... not very evident in the photos, but glaring at me in the mirror. Dare I shower? Or would I melt?! (That was a silly reference to the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz)

Nitpick concern #3: The incision/sutures on the left side of my nose are more swollen and tender than the other side, and there is some yellow stuff, which I hope isn't pus or something gross. (I know, I know, TMI) Aaaaah! I really, really don't want to get an infection. I'd call the doctor, but it's the weekend, and he did say that there would be some oozing. I just wish I had asked what COLOR the oozing was supposed to be. If it's worse by tomorrow, then I am going to call the doctor. I hope I don't have to.

Healing continues

Well, not much to update.

Swelling continues to resolve, yay! Coloring is more vibrant -- green, yellow and red. Ugh! But it's not as bad as the photo looks.

I'm pretty sure the left side of the incision is NOT infected. It looked pretty normal this morning. We'll see what it looks like tomorrow.

The main things I am "whining" about (to myself and in this review) are...

-- My lips are soooo dry and flaky. If I smeared them with honey, they'd be baklava! (a flaky pastry treat)

-- I can't floss or brush properly. My dentist is going to hate me.

Ahhhhh, such are the problems of the "first world."

Have a great day. ;-)

Deflating, in a good way

Three cheers! My ballooned-up face is deflating, and I'm starting to look more like myself again... well... me in Halloween makeup.


Based on a couple of comments, I wanted to say a little more about my procedure:

-- I received a skin-only lip-lift. If I understood him correctly, Dr. Frankel told me that he doesn't touch the muscles during a lip lift because of the potential for something to go wrong. There are also some major nerve supplies running through the area... and I don't know about you, but I don't want to have to wear a bib to dinner. (If you've had as much dental work as I have, you'll be familiar with the drooling idiot you become when eating or drinking with numb lips.)

-- Although I didn't get general anesthesia, I did receive sedation. I don't know what the meds were called, but I was "stoned" for the operation. I have NO memory of receiving the three nerve-block injections that are given for a lip lift (which I hear can be pretty gnarly). In fact, the first half-hour of the procedure is a complete blank to me, although I have full memory of the start, and full memory of the stitching up part.

-- As I've mentioned in an earlier comment, the procedure I had was considerably more expensive than some other lip lift procedures reviewed here on Realself. As pointed out by realself member, anon101010, adding sedation to the procedure definitely adds to the cost.

I don't know what the "standard operating procedure" is for a lip lift, but I had a complete surgical set up --

** IV Drip (just in case more meds or something was needed)
** Sedation (I was "out" for some of it, but fully present for the less gnarly parts)
** Full monitoring (blood pressure cuff, EKG, pulse monitor)
** Two nurses.
** Two doctors, Dr. Frankel and his second doctor... ahh, can't recall his name, but he's a sweet dude from Australia, and he's going to be taking out my stitches on Wednesday)
** Dr. Frankel did all his own stitches -- he didn't leave the procedure to anyone else to finish up.
** My own little recovery room afterwards.

It was DEFINITELY a "Cadillac" experience (with the accompanying price tag).


Oh, no! My daughter is coming back into town tomorrow and will be seeing her Mama Frankenstein. Oh, well, I am sure she will survive the shock!

Not much to report today...

I woke up. I worked** . I went to bed.


Not much to report. I freaked out a little bit about one of the stitches -- it seemed like the skin was trying to grow over it. I called the doctor's office, and they said not to worry -- just grease it up with Aquaphor, and all will be fixed up tomorrow when I go in to get the stitches out. I can't wait!

I also can't wait until I can eat properly... I have to eat teensy weensy little bites, holding a napkin in front of me in case anything escapes!

**(I work from home; the wonders of the modern age.)

Stitches out!

Went and got the stitches out. Yay! It looked kinda freaky afterwards (see photo). The Doctor said I was going fine, and also told me that I was having a reaction to the ointment I was using, which is why I was sooooo red around the incision.

He told me to use some hydrocortisone cream twice today, and then put absolutely NOTHING on it for a couple of days while it settles down.

Phew! At least it wasn't an infection or something gnarly.

I was using a generic Triple Antibiotic ointment (and occasionally Aquafor). I think I was reacting to the antibiotic ointment. Not going to use it anymore!

OK, I am really tired and my big pile of pillows are speaking to me, "Sleeeeeep.... sleeeeeeeep!"
Good night!

Still red

The swelling continues to go down, but the redness is still there (although I'm hoping it's less).

This is a short post cuz it's almost midnight!

I think it's starting to come together...

Well, we had a birthday party tonight. We played a game of Cards Against Humanity, which is a hilarious, politically incorrect game. Oh, My, God... I am not supposed to smile or laugh, so I spent half the game with my hands on my "smiling muscles" to stop them from moving.

Unfortunately, I kept slipping up. Ow, ow, ow! (smiling "pulls" at the deep stitches)

Aside from that, healing continues. ;-)

Continued improvement

Reduced redness, MUCH less swelling. The only "problem" is the 80 (approx) internal stitches that need to dissolve -- they are these firm "bump" areas under my skin, and if I move my mouth too quickly, or if I smile too widely or chew too hard, ouch!

Ah, well. What we do for beauty!

Another day closer to done!

It's healing "deep inside" - not many visible changes. I can feel the internal stitches getting smaller. (Dissolving)

computer down, so this is by phone...

Healing continues. On Wednesday, I go back to Doctor for an anti-scar laser treatment.

Continued improvement

A little flakiness and redness left. I think this scar is going to be practically invisible!! ;-) A couple of the "internal" stitches have worked their way out of the skin. Pretty weird. Overall, I am very pleased with how it's coming out. My mouth is still a LITTLE crooked, but I knew that might be the case after the surgery. The important thing was to first get the "cupid's bow" raised symmetrically, and THEN deal with any "lateral" (toward the side) crookedness later, with filler and/or with a few more stitches (laterally) when everything is healed. In any case, I figure I know have the most perfect symmetrical cupid's bow ever! I love it. It's just the mouth corner on the right side that is a touch lower than the left side. No biggie. Can improve that later. Tomorrow I see the doctor and get the laser treatment on the scar.

Had the laser treatment!

Today I saw the doctor, and he was pleased with my progress. I am to have another check up in 6 weeks, and then at the three month mark, we will deal with the remaining slight-crookedness.


Then I had the laser treatment. This was the V-Beam laser which treats redness, etc. It was pretty weird. I had to close my eyes and put on these metal goggles, which was a very good thing because that laser is BRIGHT! Even with my eyelids down and those goggles, I could still see stars.

The laser didn't hurt toooo much. It was cold and burning at the same time, sort of like having Jack Frost and a dragon side by side, spitting at your face . Spit-pause-spit-pause... all around my nose area (the incision site). Once all around, twice all around, thrice all around. (Three passes.) It took less than ten minutes (maybe only four or five minutes).

Afterwards there was no lingering sensitivity, and I swear that, about an hour later, it was waaaaay less red. Good stuff.

= = = = = =

Okay, I'm going out of town for a week. When I get back, I will post a new update. Take care!
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon

So far so good. Great doctor, great clinic. I'm not through my aftercare stuff, so I will finish this part of the review later. (Hopefully I can add to this part)

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