Q: Dr. Eppley, I am working on a story and wanted to get a quote from you in regards to mouth lift surgery. What are your thoughts on people who are having it at a young age – are there pros and cons? How serious is the operation? What is the average age for this procedure? Does it make a difference on Asian patients?
A: Corner of the mouth lift surgery has been around for a very long time. It was introduced over fifty years ago, long before facelift surgery was widely done. It was developed to treat the downturned corners of the mouth that develop from aging as the facial tissues sag. This facial droop pushes down on the mouth corners changing a horizontal smile line to an inverted smile line (at rest) in some people. The corner of the mouth lift was done to directly remove the overhanging skin and lift up the commissures. (corners of the mouth) It is a very effective small procedure that has not really changed over the years. Despite its history, it is not well known and many think it is a new surgery.
A corner of the mouth lift is a very simple procedure done in the office under local anesthesia. There is virtually no recovery other than having a few small sutures for a week. While it is incredibly simple to do from a plastic surgery standpoint, it is a very technique sensitive and delicate procedure in which the design of the cutout must be very carefully done to achieve a good result and not have any adverse scarring.
As you could surmise by its history, the corner of the mouth lift is traditionally done for patients who have general facial aging concerns. (usually greater than 45 to 50 years of age) But I have done the procedure on much younger patients (as young as age 16) who naturally have downturned corners of the mouth or corner of the mouth asymmetry. (one corner turned down, the other one normal)
As you have mentioned Asian patients, you may be referring to the recent internet story on the ‘Smile Lipt’ procedure out of Asia. This is just the traditional corner of the mouth lift done to give patients a permanent smile or mouth curls, often it appears on younger patients. By American standards, the Asian mouth curl result would be considered unnatural and exactly the ‘complication‘ from a corner of the mouth lift that we would want to avoid. But this is just the fashion and beauty differences between countries with very different cultures. You may read more about this in my recent blog story entitled ‘The Global Differences in Corner of the Mouth Lifts’.
Dr. Barry Eppley