In the West, striving for large plump lips seems to have grown into an obsession. Not so in the Orient, where protuberant lips may be seen as a negative feature and even interfere with normal mouth function. In general, the lips of people from southeast Asians tend to be more voluminous than those of people from areas farther north.
Lip reduction (reduction cheiloplasty) aims to reduce lip size to harmonize with the lower face and especially the nose, where an overly prominent upper lid may limit the distance between the bottom of the nose and top of the lip and all but erase cupid's bow.
Reduction can be undertaken on one lip or both as desired. The procedure is not particularly invasive and takes less than a half hour to perform under local anesthesia similar to that used by a dentist. It is sometimes performed in conjunction with rhinoplasty.
An incision is made across the length of the lip on the inside of the mouth. A strip of lip lining (mucus membrane) is removed and the incision is closed with dissoloving sutures.
Bruising and swelling are noticeable for a week or two. There is pain at first and eating some foods may be difficult during the first week. Some slight swelling may last for 2-3 months. In patients with extremely large lips, two operations may be necessary to achieve the fullest effect.
The main risks include infection, poor healing, or an uneven result. Permanent numbness is possible but rare.