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Having thick or prominent lips may be due to ethnic, congenital or traumatic origins. Large, prominent lips may not appear to be in proportion with the rest of the face and may be a source of embarrassment for some people. To improve one's appearance, lip reduction surgery (cheiloplasty) may be done.

What is Lip Reduction Surgery?

Cheiloplasty or lip reduction surgery is a cosmetic procedure that aims to reduce the size of the lips. This simple outpatient procedure results in permanent lip reduction, which can improve one's appearance as well as their speech and eating functions. It may also be done in combination with other aesthetic procedures to correct other facial features, such as dental surgery, chin augmentation and jaw augmentation.

Lip reduction surgery involves the removal of excess tissues from the lip with the incision done inside the mouth. It is done under local anesthesia and some sedation if needed, either in a doctor's office or in a hospital. This outpatient procedure lasts for about an hour or two, depending on the extent of correction needed, and it may be done on either or both lips. According to a large network of certified service providers for plastic surgery, the average cost of a lip reduction surgery is $3,000. These costs are usually not covered by most insurance companies.

Recovering from Lip Reduction Surgery

Pain, swelling, and discomfort are expected after surgery, but these may be relieved by taking oral painkillers. Chewing and ability to speak may be affected but these symptoms may improve within a week. To reduce swelling, you may be advised to sleep with your head elevated on two pillows at night.

You may be able to eat, but you must avoid acidic foods, which may cause increased irritation and pain. Pureed foods are best taken initially, since you will feel some tightness and discomfort.

You will be advised about avoiding physical activities, especially sports, until your surgical wounds completely heal in six to eight weeks. However, many patients are able to report back to work within seven days after surgery.

Using an antiseptic mouth rinse can help reduce discomfort and prevent wound infection. Sutures are usually removed 7-10 days from surgery. Some swelling of your lips may persist for a few months.

Possible Risks and Complications

Although considered to be generally safe, lip reduction may be followed by excessive pain, bleeding, swelling and infection, just like other surgical procedures. Aside from these, there is also a risk of temporary numbness in the lips, asymmetry, scarring, and patient dissatisfaction. To avoid these, it is best to have realistic expectations of the results and to choose a well-trained and experienced plastic surgeon to do the job. He/she will discuss with you if you are a suitable candidate for lip reduction, and if you need other procedures to be done, such as dental surgery to improve the overall results of your cosmetic procedure.

Although lip reduction is a relatively simple procedure, you would want to entrust the cosmetic results of your face on a doctor who has received a high level of training and experience, preferably board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS).

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