Can A Short Upper Lip Be Made Longer?

Q: Will a LeFort osteotomy for short face syndrome tend to increase upper lip length (vertical height of upper lip)? If not is there a surgery to increase upper lip height (distance between columella and mouth)?

A: A LeFort I (maxillary) osteotomy for a short face is either being horizontally brought forward or being vertically lengthened. Either way, that facial bony movement will not make the upper lip longer. In fact, it is more likely to make it shorter due to the new bone position and the facial muscles which have been detached from the vestibular incisional access. During incisional closure of a LeFort I osteotomy, it is important to do an alar cinch suture and a v-y mucosal closure to prevent the nostrils from widening and the upper lip becoming shorter and more thin.

While there are multiple plastic surgery procedures for shortening the long upper lip, there are no operations that can truly lengthen the outside skin of the upper lip. Injectable fillers to the vermilion of the upper lip and internal V-Y mucosal advancements can provide the illusion of longer length or maybe even add a millimeter or two. But significant upper lip lengthening is not surgically possible.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana