Can My Upper Lip Be Lowered To Help Get Rid Of My Gummy Smile?

Q: I want to know more about a procedure that will lower my upper lip. I show a lot of gum when I smile and this bothers me. I have read about a ‘mucosal roll-out’ operation that brings down the upper lip. Please tell me more about it.

A: An upper lip mucosal roll-out will have only a very minimal effect on actual upper lip lowering. That is used more to make the upper lip fuller but, in and of itself, will only lower it maybe a millimeter or two at best.  To lower an upper lip for the purposes of a gummy smile treatment, the upper lip must be treated by levator myotomies (release of one of the main lip elevators) , an upper lip spacer insert (to keep the muscles from healing back together and to help push it down)  and a V-Y mucosal release (frenulectomy, although technically it is a frenulotomy) and advancement. Moving the inner lining of the upper lip (mucosa) only will not be effective.

Lowering an upper lip is even more difficult to achieve than raising a depressed lower lip. While bone shortening (maxillary impaction) is the most effective way to bring the horizontal lip level down closer to the teeth during smiling, most patients do not want that much surgery to achieve that goal. Soft tissue surgery to lower the upper lip can be expected to achieve about 3 to 5mms of actual lip lowering. This can be combined with other dental procedures (crown lengthening) to get an even greater amount of gummy smile reduction.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana