Something to Smile About
Have you ever seen someone who looks naturally unhappy or sad when they’re not smiling? It may not be what you think. Youthful, attractive lips have a full and voluptuous red lip with upturned corners of the mouth and one to two millimeters of central tooth show. As we age, our skin and soft tissues of the face lose elasticity and along with gravity, cause the upper white lip to elongate, reducing the attractive tooth show. Additionally the red lip turns inward, thinning our red lip, and the corners of our mouth to turn downward. As with other drooping soft tissues of the face, these age related changes of the lip can be addressed surgically with several different procedures.
A drooping corner of the mouth, can give a look of a permanent frown, signaling unhappiness or sadness to others, in even the happiest of people. This droop often extends to a fold at the junction of the cheeks and the lips, creating a “marionette” appearance. In extreme cases, such as seen with facial paralysis, the droop can be extreme enough to cause lateral oral commissure drooling and angular cheilitis (an inflammatory condition at the corner of the mouth due to chronic irritation).
Many patients who are bothered by this cosmetic issue are offered hyaluronic acid injectable fillers such as Juvederm, Restylane, or Belotero to push the corners of the mouth upward in addition to filling the red lip. Although fillers may be partially effective for correcting the issue, they are not permanent solutions and only last, at most, 6-9 months. A more effective resolution for a longer lasting result is a surgical Oral Commissure Rejuvenation, or as more commonly referred to, a corner of the mouth lip lift. This surgery can be done in the office, under local anesthesia in under one hour.
During the surgery, a sliver of skin is removed at both corners of the mouth and the corners of the mouth are lifted upward with a small, resultant incision. Two layers of stitches are applied with a subsequent nearly invisible incision line located inconspicuously along the outer corner of the mouth and the junction of the red and white upper lip. Stitches are removed after four or five days and makeup can usually be applied at seven to ten days. There is minimal recovery and downtime associated with the surgery and an instantaneous result. Most patients only need an over the counter pain reliever. Always be sure to choose a double board certified facial plastic surgeon with experience in lip rejuvenation and enhancement procedures when making decisions about surgery on the face and lips in order to insure the best outcomes.
Post provided by Benjamin C. Stong MD