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When thinking of transgender surgery, most people likely think of the more extensive procedures such as top surgery with the topic. However, several more minor procedures can make a big difference when it comes to feminizing the face and body. Many of these surgeries take place on the face and are lumped together into one or two procedures known as facial feminization. Though, Dr. Sajan can perform these surgeries separately. Dr. Javad of Allure Esthetic performs the best lip feminization for gender affirmation.
Overview: What Is A Lip Lift?
A lip lift is most commonly performed to feminize the lip appearance. Lip lifts are also widely performed on cisgender patients for purely cosmetic reasons, but they have proven effective for lip feminization. The surgery shortens the strip of skin between the upper lip and nose to help create a more feminine shape for the lips.
Lip lift surgery is quick and low risk. This subtle change in facial contours can result in an overall more feminine face. Additionally, it can also treat the appearance of a thin upper lip which is common in people assigned male at birth. Thus, naturally providing a slight plump to the lips. In many cases, the goal is to take straight, thin lips and create curves and plumpness.
When treating a cisgender woman, the focus is primarily on treating thin lips rather than the lip shape or facial appearance. This is where lip lifts come in for gender affirmation surgeries.
Benefits & Risks
Lip lift surgery offers transfemale people the opportunity to obtain a more feminine-looking lip appearance. This benefit alone is often enough for patients to take on the risks of surgery. However, it is important to understand both the full scale of the benefits and risks to make an informed decision. Dr. Sajan will also discuss these with you during your consultation appointment.
First, some of the benefits of a lip lift for lip feminization may include:
- Overall, more feminine facial features
- Correction of a thin upper lip
- Shorter distance between upper lip and nose
- Increases visibility of the upper teeth
- Reduction in gender dysphoria
- Lips that have more of a subtle curve
- Plumper-looking lips
- Helps lift the corners of the mouth
- More prominent looking vermillion border (where the lip and skin meet)
- Address fine lines on or around the lips
- Improve facial symmetry
- Enhance smile and facial expressions
- Permanent results
- Quick surgery
- Sometimes performed under local anesthesia
- Combinable with other procedures such as during a facial feminization or fat transfer to the lips
- Hidden scarring
- Safe and low risk
- Performed by renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Javad Sajan, who specializes in facial feminization surgery
As far as risks—like benefits—they are individualized. However, a lip lift does carry typical surgical risks. Some of the risks associated with lip lift surgery include:
- Visible or raised scarring
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- Asymmetrical results
- Nerve or skin damage
These complications and risks are generally avoidable with thorough patient screening, proper surgical technique, and following recovery instructions. Some patients may have an increased risk of certain complications, and Dr. Sajan will discuss this with you during your consultation if it applies.
Differences In Male & Female Lip Appearance
The differences in the lip appearances of those assigned male and female at birth may be subtle, but they do make a difference in gender expression and identity. A lip lift resolves these differences for transwomen to help treat gender dysphoria. The table below details the main differences between male and female lip appearance.
Of course, not all males or females assigned at birth will fit these standards or averages regardless of if they are cis or transgender. However, the table includes the widely accepted masculine and feminine features of the lips.
Male Assigned At Birth
- Tend to be thinner
- Flatter appearance
- Teeth exposure is less common
- Philtrum measures around 13-15 millimeters
- Less defined shape and upper lip border
- Tend to be straighter
Female Assigned At Birth
- Thicker and plumper
- More projection
- Slight teeth exposure is common
- Philtrum measures around 11-13 millimeters
- More defined shape and upper lip border
- Tend to be rounder and curvier
Before & After Lip Feminization
A consultation with Dr. Sajan at Allure Esthetic can take place either in-person or virtually. Regardless, during the appointment, Dr. Sajan will ask you about your goals for the procedure and what you hope to achieve. From there, you will review your medical history and aspects of your lifestyle, such as if you smoke.
Finally, Dr. Sajan will examine the area to determine if a lip lift to feminize the face is the right procedure for you. Sometimes less invasive procedures may provide better results, or you may need a completely different procedure altogether. If Dr. Sajan believes you are a good candidate, he will further discuss the benefits and risks of the procedure. He will also walk you through the results you can expect.
Lip lift surgery involves making an incision underneath the nose in the shape of bull horns. This hugs the natural contours of the nose to hide the scarring and create the most natural appearance. Using this incision, Dr. Sajan then removes the necessary amount of skin from between the nose and upper lip.
The incision is then closed, which pulls the upper lip up and may expose more of the red portion of the lip. Once stitched, the procedure is done. It often takes less than an hour when performed by itself. Sometimes patients will even undergo the procedure under local anesthesia, which does reduce some aspects of risk and recovery time.
Recovery after lip feminization surgery is fairly minimal. However, you will still need to follow some basic instructions to promote the best possible outcome. Some of the aftercare and recovery instructions may include:
- Stay out of the sun
- Avoid touching your face
- Elevate your pillows to an angle to prevent and reduce swelling
- Cease use of skincare products and makeup until okayed by Dr. Sajan
- Take the necessary time off work
- Use cold compresses if needed for the first two to three days
- Do not drive until off of pain medication
- Avoid hard foods
- Do not smoke
- Cease strenuous activity and slowly work up to it throughout your recovery
Frequently Asked Questions
Can This Procedure Be Performed During Facial Feminization Surgery?
Yes, lip lift surgery is commonly performed during facial feminization surgery. Also, since it is a relatively minor surgery, it is easy to combine with multiple other surgeries as FFS does.
Will Lip Filler Provide The Same Results As Lip Feminization Surgery?
In some cases, yes, lip filler may be enough to help a patient get the plumpness and projection they want. It can also provide adequate feminization of the lips. However, the one notable difference is that lip filler is temporary and must be refreshed at least one to four times per year. Insurance companies may be less likely to cover filler injections.
Some patients may undergo lip filler after a lip lift procedure to add extra volume across the lips. Since a lip lift primarily focuses on the upper lip, lip fillers let patients evenly address both lips.
Does Insurance Cover The Cost?
Yes, insurance companies usually do cover gender-affirming surgeries. Allure Esthetic accepts most major insurances. You can find more information on our insurance for transgender surgery pages. We also have an insurance coordinator on staff who can work with you throughout the entire process.
Patients are also welcome to pay out of pocket or finance their procedure. You will receive a customized price quote at your consultation if you plan to do this.
What Can I Expect From A Lip Lift Scar?
Situated in the natural crease where the upper lip and nose meet, most people find that their lip lift scars heal well and become difficult to see after several months. During the healing process, makeup can be used to cover the scar, starting about ten days after surgery. Dr. Sajan also offers Scar Protocol to his patients to help treat and prevent their scars as their form. This can help reduce the appearance of a lip lift scar.
Is It Permanent?
Essentially, yes, a lip lift surgery is permanent. There are, of course, factors that could reverse or damage results, such as injuries or health conditions. However, these situations are relatively rare and tend to occur several years after the surgery, if they happen at all. Considering most other options are temporary, a lip lift is an attractive option for patients wanting to treat gender dysphoria.
The Best Feminizing Lip Lift With Dr. Javad Sajan
Dr. Javad Sajan is one of the leading plastic surgeons performing gender-affirming surgery in the United States. He has performed hundreds of gender-affirming surgeries with varying techniques, including gender-affirming lip lifts and other facial procedures. Along with transgender lip lift surgery, Dr. Sajan routinely performs FTM top surgery, tracheal shave, facial feminization, and MTF body contouring. Allure Esthetic makes the experience of seeking any gender-affirming procedure a seamless experience from start to finish. Dr. Sajan and the team have worked extensively with the transgender and LGBTQIA community to create a safe and affirming environment.