Lip Reduction FAQs

Why would Dr. Lam perform a lip reduction?

There are perhaps two major types of patients who seek lip reduction. First, someone who exhibits an overly ethnic appearing lip (e.g., African-American, Polynesian, etc.) may desire to have the size of one or both lips reduced. Dr. Lam has reduced the upper, the lower or both lips in different cases. The other type of individual who desires lip reduction has had their lips over-inflated or misshapen by another physician using a permanent filler, like silicone. Dr. Lam will need to reduce the lips to a proportionate size to achieve a more natural look. At times, Dr. Lam will reduce the size of the lip first and then re-expand it with the natural size and contours of a natural lip with his method of silicone, which is smooth and natural. Dr. Lam truly believes that lip design requires a strong aesthetic design sense, which he undertakes in every case.

How is the lip reduction procedure performed?

Lip reduction is an office-based procedure that requires no sedation of any kind. With Dr. Lam’s dental block, you will feel no pain at all during the procedure. You will not even feel the injection for the dental block, i.e., no needles and no burning pain. Dr. Lam makes his incision to reduce the lips at the junction of the wet and dry red lip, i.e., toward the inside of the mouth so that the incision should not be visible. Initially for the first few days, due to the swelling, you may notice the incision line outside of the mouth until most of the swelling has gone away. All sutures that Dr. Lam puts in are dissolvable and do not require removal. The procedure takes only about 30 minutes, and you can drive home after the procedure is completed. Because the dental block lasts about 1 to 2 hours, it is important that you not eat or drink anything until the numbness has entirely gone away. Thereafter, you must maintain a completely soft diet, e.g., yogurt, ice cream, etc., for the next 3 days. You should not be chewing on any kind of food during that time.

What is the recovery period like for a lip reduction procedure?

Most people take a week to ten days off from work. Although the lips will appear slightly too large for up to 2 to 3 months, most of the deforming swelling has dissipated over a period over a couple of weeks. However, every individual is different and variable swelling, tightness, or numbness can last for weeks or months in a worst case scenario. You will be given a prescription for oral steroids to bring down the swelling more quickly. Using ice on the lips for the first 24 to 48 hours can also markedly reduce the swelling. You may not think the result looks like what you are seeking for up to an entire month or more. Patience is important.

Does Mederma (onion extract), Strivectin, or Vitamin E oil work to help improve the appearance of my incision?

Dr. Lam does not believe that any of these remedies work to help a scar mature well. In fact, rigorous scientific studies that have involved blinded, prospective, randomized, split scar analysis (in other words, good and controlled scientific research) have indicated that these treatments provide no improvement at all in an incision or scar. In fact, Vitamin E oil has been shown actually to worsen wound healing in some cases. In the past, Dr. Lam used Vitamin E oil to help with wound healing. However, with recent evidence to the contrary, he no longer believes that any of these topical ointments do any good to help with scar healing.

What if I think my lip is too small or too big after the reduction? Is there something that can be done?

Occasionally, for a very large lip Dr. Lam may plan for needing two reductions. However, in most cases this extra procedure is not required. If the lip still looks too large after most of all the swelling has gone away after 6 months, another short reduction procedure can be easily undertaken. If the lip appears too small to you afterward, Dr. Lam can easily re-augment the lip without additional charge using silicone microdroplets (see Lip Enhancement FAQs). However, this situation would be very unlikely.

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