Lip Reduction Surgery – Cost and Risks of Lip Correction

Reviewed by Scott R. Miller, MD, FACS

Full, plump lips are sexy, but there are limits. Larger-than-average lips may appear out of proportion with other facial features and can interfere with eating, drinking and speaking. If you feel that your lips are too large, lip reduction surgery may be worth considering.

Lip reduction surgery can permanently reduce lip size. This plastic surgery procedure may be performed alone or in combination with other facial cosmetic plastic surgery procedures, such as chin augmentation, jaw augmentation or rhinoplasty.

Choosing a Lip Reduction Surgeon

The decision to undergo lip reduction or any other surgery is a serious one that should not be made lightly. The Consumer Guide to Plastic Surgery is designed to help increase your chances of a safe, successful surgical experience. Because so much depends on choosing the right surgeon, the Consumer Guide to Plastic Surgery Directory exclusively lists surgeons who are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Certification by the ABPS ensures the highest level of education, training, experience and ethical standards. Start your search for a board-certified surgeon in your area by clicking on the right side of this page.

Are You a Lip Reduction Candidate?

The best way to determine whether you are a candidate for lip reduction surgery is to schedule a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon. Be sure to choose a surgeon who has experience performing various lip surgeries, including lip reduction and lip augmentation with implants or hyaluronic acid-based soft tissue fillers such as Juvederm and Perlane. The surgeon will examine your lips, take a full medical history, listen to your concerns and assess your expectations.

Based on this information, your surgeon will decide whether lip reduction is right for you. He or she will discuss the details of the surgery, including costs, risks and recovery information. Inform the surgeon about all medications you are taking, including nutritional supplements, as these can interfere with your healing and surgical results. In addition, let your surgeon know if you are a smoker. Smoking affects your circulation, so your surgeon will likely require you to quit before and after the procedure to help minimize risks and ensure proper healing. For more information, visit our comprehensive article on smoking and plastic surgery.

The Lip Reduction Procedure

lip lift

Lip reduction surgery is typically performed using local or regional anesthesia, although oral sedation is sometimes used. The procedure may be performed in your surgeon's office, a freestanding surgical center or a hospital. It takes about an hour to complete, but your time in surgery may be longer if other procedures are performed at the same time as your lip reduction.

When performing lip reduction surgery, the surgeon first makes an incision along the length of your lip, usually on the inside of the mouth. Next, he or she removes a strip of tissue before suturing the incision closed. This surgery can be performed on both the upper and lower lips at the same time.

Lip Reduction Recovery

Immediately following your lip reduction, your lips may feel sore and tight. During the next few days, you may feel some mild to moderate pain. Your surgeon can prescribe painkillers to help with this discomfort. He or she will also give you instructions regarding what over-the-counter pain medications are OK to take following surgery. Swelling and bruising are also to be expected after lip reduction surgery.

Your surgeon will provide you with guidelines about when you can resume normal activities after lip reduction surgery. You will have to refrain from vigorous exercise until your surgeon gives you the OK. Your surgeon will likely instruct you to sleep with two pillows to keep your head elevated.

Because the incisions are placed inside the mouth, eating may be challenging at first. Avoid foods with a high acid content — such as oranges and tomatoes — as they may irritate your wounds. Soft, pureed foods may be best immediately following your lip reduction surgery. Your surgeon may ask you to rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash throughout the day to help prevent infection. Excessive pain, redness or pus around the incision sites may be signs of infection. If these occur, contact your surgeon immediately.

Your sutures will likely be removed within a week to 10 days following surgery, by which time most of your swelling should have subsided.

Risks of Lip Reduction Surgery

Although it is considered safe, lip reduction does boast certain risks. General surgery risks include anesthesia complications, bleeding and infection. Additional lip reduction risks include:

  • Asymmetry
  • Numbness (usually temporary)
  • Lumps and excess scar tissue in lips
  • Dissatisfaction with the cosmetic results

Lip reduction results are permanent, but if you find that your lips are too thin after your surgery, lip augmentation may be performed to correct this outcome.

The best way to minimize your lip reduction surgery risks and help ensure a smooth recovery is to choose a board-certified plastic surgeon and follow his or her pre- and postoperative instructions carefully.

How Much Does Lip Reduction Cost?

The total cost of lip reduction can range from $1,500 to $4,000. This cost includes the surgeon's fee, anesthesia fee, operating facility fee, medications, bandages and other incidental expenses. Be sure to get a complete breakdown of all costs before you schedule your surgery. If you undergo additional procedures during the same surgical session, the cost will be higher. However, you may save money in the long run if you double up on procedures, because you pay only one facility and anesthesia fee.

Because lip reduction is considered a purely cosmetic treatment, it typically is not covered by insurance. If the cost is too much to pay at once, ask your surgeon about financing plans.