Treatment guide

Lip Reduction

Lip Reduction (also known as cheiloplasty) is a cosmetic surgery procedure which usually aims to reduce the size of both the lower and upper lips, ensuring that they are in harmony with other facial features. The procedure is relatively simple and can be performed via an outpatient appointment, but it will require a local anaesthetic and incisions. The results can be a significant enhancement in facial appearance and self esteem, so it is becoming an increasingly popular option.

The content has been reviewed for quality and accuracy to the best of our knowledge by Qunomedical and its Medical Board of Experts.

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Lip Reduction Quick Details


  • Anyone whose lips look too large relative to their other facial features. This could be due to their natural appearance from birth or from injuries, infections or accidents.

  • Individuals who have undergone prior lip enhancement but now desire a reversal or alteration of those procedures.

  • Cheiloplasty is also often employed in cases of cleft lips.


  • The actual operation generally takes between 15-30 minutes for each lip, meaning that the procedure can be carried out as an outpatient one.

  • Extended hospital stays are not generally required.

  • However, stays can last six to eight hours depending on the procedure involved.


  • There will be some degree of swelling following any lip reduction operation.

  • This should reduce within one to two weeks and be entirely undetectable within five weeks.

  • However, swelling can persist in some rare cases.


  • Complications are extremely rare for most cheiloplasty operations.

  • Studies have found a 99.8% rating of "good" or "fair" in terms of patient satisfaction, with complications such as infection occurring in just 1.18% of cases.


  • As with all cosmetic surgery, there is a slight risk of complications such as infection at the incision site. However, in the case of cheiloplasty, this is extremely uncommon.

  • Scarring may also result around the incision site; if patients are not properly assessed beforehand, there may be allergic reactions to the local anaesthetic.

What Is a Lip Reduction?

Lip reduction (cheiloplasty) is a common, safe cosmetic procedure which aims to reduce the size of your lips. By doing so, skilled cosmetic surgeons can harmonise your facial features, restoring balance between nose, chin, lips and eyes. They can also remedy certain inherited facial features in children (such as cleft lips), which is the most common use of the procedure.

How Does Lip Reduction Work?

The process of carrying out a lip reduction is relatively simple, quick and generally hassle-free. From start to finish, the process can take as little as eight weeks, from initial consultation to the disappearance of surgical swelling, leaving you with an improved appearance.

1. Initial Assessment

The first step is an initial consultation with a cosmetic surgeon. At this meeting, you can discuss your motivations for undergoing cheiloplasty, and the surgeon will provide their opinion about what can be done. They will explain the surgical side of the process and assess whether you are a suitable candidate for the procedure. When that's done, you can arrange a date to carry out the lip reduction.

2. Admission and Anaesthetic

In almost all cases, lip reductions can be carried out without the need for an overnight hospital stay. The first step after admission is the administration of a local anaesthetic. It is less common for a general anaesthetic to be provided, although this may be the case if patients are unwilling to be conscious during surgery, or if more complex facial procedures are also required.

3. Incision

When the patient has been anaesthetised, the next step is to create a horizontal incision inside the mouth. This incision will be on the underside of the lip, providing a way for the surgeon to easily remove excess tissue.

4. Tissue Removal

Next, the surgeon will carefully remove enough fat to reshape the patient's lips. They will also remove strips of skin from the exterior of the lip to balance the removal of interior tissue.

5. Stitching

Finally, the surgeon will ensure that all incisions are properly secured via stitches. The patient will then be free to leave the clinic or hospital and return home. However, there will be swelling for a period of days or weeks. But within one to two weeks, the stitches will have fallen out naturally, and the improved appearance of the patient's lips should be apparent.

Are There Different Types of Lip Reduction?

Yes. Although the procedure outlined above is the most common process involved in cheiloplasty, there are a number of variations to consider. For example, you may have heard of the "Brazilian reduction". In these procedures, surgeons will usually focus on the lower lip alone, contouring it to resemble a "bikini bottom" shape. Some people find this more aesthetically pleasing, and your surgeon will be happy to explain exactly how it would look on your facial type.

What Should I Expect?

If you have discussed everything clearly with your plastic surgeon prior to the procedure, you should expect your final lip contours to look almost exactly as predicted. Lip reduction operations have a very high success rate, and modern surgeons are able to alter upper and lower lips to suit the desires of patients. However, there are some things to anticipate as lip reductions heal. For one thing, as we've noted, swelling is going to occur, and this needs to be managed properly to avoid pain and promote healing. Expect a couple of days where talking is problematic. Most patients will book a few days off work as the swelling heals, so they can take it easy and give their bodies the best possible chance of a quick recovery. Eating and drinking can also be difficult for a few days after surgery, so have a supply of smoothies and straws available. But expect to be back to your normal diet and social life within a week or two. Lip reductions have a quick recovery time in almost all cases.


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