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Lip Reduction Surgery

Full lips are generally considered a sign of beauty and have become something of a cultural phenomenon, but for some, large lips are not desirable. Individuals with one or both lips that are excessively large or hypertrophic can experience cosmetic concerns and physiological issues such as labial incompetence, drooling and poor speech. Using the most advanced facial plastic surgery techniques available, Dr. Cangello can reduce the volume of one or both lips and modify their shape to achieve facial balance and enhance the facial appearance as a whole while maintaining or improving their function.

Benefits of Lip Reduction Surgery

Lip Reduction Surgery, also known as lip thinning, is a procedure that can correct concerns stemming from genetics, a vascular malformation, and even lip injections with a suboptimal outcome 1. Lip Reduction Surgery can also have the following benefits:
  • Treats hypertrophic lips
  • Corrects asymmetry
  • Balances harmony of facial features
  • Enhances function by correcting labial incompetence
  • Eliminates drooling and/or speech issues

Candidates for Lip Reduction Surgery

Lip Reduction Surgery can be a suitable procedure for individuals desiring to reduce the size of their lips and/or enhance the balance of facial proportions. Ideal candidates for this surgery are nonsmokers who are in general good health and have realistic expectations.

The Lip Reduction Procedure

Dr. Cangello uses the “Bikini” Lip Reduction method because it maintains the natural architecture of the lips 2. This surgery is an in-office procedure that requires minimal downtime, offers permanent results, and does not require general anesthesia. At the beginning of your surgery, Dr. Cangello will apply a topical local anesthetic directly to the treatment area to ease the discomfort of a subsequent injection of local anesthesia. Once the surgical site is sufficiently numb, Dr. Cangello will begin the Lip Reduction Surgery using the “bikini” reduction, a modified method for lip reduction consisting of excising a piece of skin resembling the shape of a bikini top from the upper lip and a piece of skin resembling the shape of a bikini bottom from the lower lip. Dr. Cangello is a proponent of this technique because it not only reduces the size of the lips, but places emphasis on labial contouring and balancing volume. To begin, Dr. Cangello will ask you to gently close the lips and will use a surgical marker to place a dot at the dry/wet junction in the midline between both upper and lower lips (Fig. 1, points a and a). Then, Dr. Cangello will request that you open your mouth slightly, and will manually rotate your lips inward, attempting to make them appear smaller, before requesting that you close the lips. This process is repeated until the size vermilion (the red part of the lips) that shows when the lips are closed is adequately reduced, while ensuring the lower lip has approximately 40 to 50 percent more volume than the upper one. Dr. Cangello will then make another dot in the midline on the newly created dry/wet interface (Fig. 1, points b and b), for a total of four central dots and forming the basis of the bikini design (Fig. 1, a, a, b, and b). Following the dot placement, Dr. Cangello will create the top of the bikini design by marking a central strip with two parallel lines between a and b with a distance of roughly 1 cm, to form two bilateral oval cups. The anteroposterior dimension of the cups (c to d) should be roughly double that of the a to b cups and should taper a few millimeters before the commissures at the edges of the bikini outline. Dr. Cangello will draw the bikini bottom as a triangle (Fig. 1, e to b to f), again tapering a few millimeters from the commissures. Then using the bikini markings as a guide, he’ll use a surgical scalpel to excise the bikini top from the upper lip, removing a triangular wedge of tissue. Following the upper lip, he’ll excise the bikini bottom in the same way. Finally, he’ll close the incisions with two layers of sutures, a deep layer followed by a superficial layer.
Figure 1. Here the “bikini” incision is illustrated, consisting of an upper lip with the “bikini top”, and a lower lip with the “bikini bottom”. The expected result can be seen on the right and represents proper reductions, relative volumes, and contouring of the top and bottom lips.

Preparing for Lip Reduction Surgery

Dr. Cangello will explain your treatment options during your initial consultation so you can make the most informed decision possible about Lip Reduction Surgery. If you decide that Lip Reduction Surgery is right for you and you are a candidate for this procedure, Dr. Cangello will provide you with detailed pre-procedure guidelines to follow to prepare for your surgery. As we any surgical procedure, when preparing for Lip Reduction Surgery, patients should:
  • Stop smoking for at least two months prior to surgery
  • Avoid alcohol for at least one week prior to surgery
  • Discontinue using blood-thinning or anti-inflammatory medications
  • Fill any prescriptions provided by Dr. Cangello
  • Men should arrive for surgery with a clean shaven face

Recovery after Lip Reduction Surgery

Some patients report temporary swelling and mild discomfort immediately following Lip Reduction Surgery, but these side effects typically diminish within several days and can be managed with Tylenol. We advise that patients spend the day after surgery resting and remaining quiet, and waiting for at least 24 hours post-surgery before resuming normal activities. Additionally, patients should refrain from exercise for 7 to 14 days as the lip area heals, ingest soft foods that do not require a lot of chewing, and avoid hot liquids as well as salty foods for at least 48 hours after surgery. If at all possible, patients should avoid sleeping on the side or the stomach, and rest on the back with the head elevated to minimize unnecessary contact with the lips as they are healing. Patients should also avoid strenuous activities, and refrain from lifting heavy items, as well as bending over or straining for at least one week following Lip Reduction surgery. Moisturize the lips with Vaseline or Carmex and similar lip balms for up to three weeks or more after surgery. Dr. Cangello will also provide an Antibacterial ointment to be applied daily to the suture line to promote healing. Most patients heal quickly and require minimal downtime, if any, following Lip Reduction Surgery.

FAQs About Lip Reduction Surgery

When performed by an experienced plastic surgeon, Lip Reduction Surgery leaves no visible scars.

While considered safe, Lip Reduction Surgery does have some risks. These include:
  • Allergic reaction to anesthetic
  • Hematoma or seroma (swelling caused by a pooling of blood or pooling fluid, respectively)
  • Changes in sensation or numbness in the lips
  • Suboptimal cosmetic outcome
  • Functional problems, such as improper closure of the lips, changes in expression, phonation issues, and tactile sensation 3

Contact Dr. Cangello for Natural-Looking Lip Reduction In NYC

Facial surgery, especially the lips, deserves an artist’s vision and surgeon’s meticulous skill. Dr. Cangello is a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive experience in facial plastic surgery. If you have questions about Lip Reduction Surgery or are interested in scheduling your personal consultation, contact us today


1 Botti G, Botti C, Cella A. A simple surgical remedy for iatrogenic excessively thick lips. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 2002 Oct;110(5):1329-34; discussion 1335-6. DOI: 10.1097/01.prs.0000026498.97540.96.

2 The Canadian Journal of Plastic Surgery. The ‘bikini lip reduction’: A detailed approach to hypertrophic lips. Available at: Accessed November 6, 2020.

3 StatPearls Publishing. Anatomy, Head and Neck, Lips. Available at: Accessed November 9, 2020.

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