Lip lifts should be offered to more patients, especially women, according to a new study presented at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) annual conference, Plastic Surgery The Meeting, in New Orleans.

"The length of the upper lip increases with age, and this is associated with thinning of the lip and insufficient coverage of the upper teeth,” says study author and Cherry Hill, NJ-based plastic surgeon John E. Gatti, MD, in a news release.

As people age, particularly women, the lip frequently lengthens and the sculpted look of the lip is lost, he says. Lip shortening surgery, or a lip lift, restores a youthful shape to the lip. The procedure involves removing a small strip of skin at the base of the nose. Lip asymmetry is addressed by adjusting the amount of skin removed.

The study analyzed the results of 166 lip lifts performed over 22 years. The majority of patients reported a subjective improvement in facial aesthetics. Forty-two patients (26%) required revision surgery. Scar irregularities were relatively minor and were the most common reason for revision. Scar irregularities were corrected using basic cautery in 30 (71%) of the 42 patients. Ten patients required direct removal of scar irregularities, and eight patients had a second lip lift to improve results.

“Plastic surgeons should carefully discuss the pros and cons of lip shortening surgery with their patients,” Gatti says. “I’ve found that the procedure can require minor revisions to correct scarring. However, lip shortening surgery does improve facial aesthetics and should be utilized by plastic surgeons to treat the aging face.”