Lip Lift – Bullhorn Lift


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View before and after images here.

A lip lift is a procedure that enhances the aesthetic appearance of the upper lip. There are different kinds of lip lifts, but the type that I like the best is the bullhorn lift. This lift shortens an upper lip that has drooped or sagged with age. It can also be done for younger patients who simply have always had long upper lips and want an aesthetic improvement.

The “ideal” upper lip has a proper relationship with the upper teeth, and cosmetic issues of the teeth need to be considered. The lip should not completely cover the upper teeth, as some “tooth show” is desirable at rest and certainly when talking and smiling. If there is no tooth show, this could be a problem of the upper lip (too long), or the teeth or upper jaw (too short), or both. Obviously, if it is purely a teeth or jaw problem, a cosmetic dentist or oral surgeon should be consulted. But if the upper lip is the culprit, the bullhorn lift is a simple procedure with a very discreet scar.

The concept is pretty simple: Remove a width of upper lip skin immediately below the nose, curving the incision to place the scar in that border between the lip and nose. The shape of this scar will be somewhat bow-shaped, or bullhorn-shaped, hence the name. A maximum of about 4 mm width can be removed. This translates to somewhat less lip raise down at the lip margin, but a couple of millimeters of increased tooth show can make a big difference. Asymmetries of the upper lip can also be improved with this technique.

The bullhorn lip lift doesn’t actually enlarge the upper lip, but it can create that perception. Raising the lip to a more youthful position, reducing the relative proportion of skin to vermilion (red part), and the slight upward and outward rolling of the upper lip can all contribute to the lip looking “larger”.  It is also common to add volume to the lip with a lip augmentation procedure, as loss of volume is almost always part of the lip aging process.  This is usually done with fat transfer or a filler such as Juvederm.

Other lip lift techniques, such as corner lifts or lifts along the border of the vermilion and lip skin, are riskier and place the scar in much more potentially visible locations. Those techniques arguably have slightly different indications and purposes, but there are other procedures beside the bullhorn lift which might be alternatives to those, including adding filler or fat.  Good skin care is vital to compliment the surgery and get the best aesthetic result after facial surgery; see our page on SkinCeuticals products that we include in your lip lift package HERE.

See Dr. Mackenzie’s lip lift photos HERE.



Pacific Plastic Surgery
1722 State St., Ste. #102
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Phone: 805-214-6923
Fax: 805-898-0600

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