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What is Lip Reconstruction?

By Pamela Pleasant
Updated May 17, 2024
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Lip reconstruction surgery is typically done to improve the appearance of the lips. It is also done to increase or restore the functions of the lips and mouth, including the ability to hold saliva within the mouth, the ability to move the lips, and the ability to make facial expressions. Lip reconstruction surgery is used to correct medical conditions such as genetic defects, tumors, or serious wounds. Restoring sensation in the lips and protecting the nerves and muscles under the skin are fundamental with this type of surgery.

When a newborn has been diagnosed with a cleft lip, lip reconstruction surgery is usually done to correct the problem. This is caused by an abnormality in the facial development. The lips will not fuse together and they form a V shaped cleft. Approximately one out of 600 babies is born with a cleft lip. In this case, lip reconstructive surgery is typically performed on infants when they are between six months and one year old.

Injuries or deep tissue wounds around the mouth and lips can cause permanent scarring and impact a person's ability to use his lips. Lip reconstruction surgery in these cases typically uses skin grafts. These flaps of skin are added to the injured lip to restore it. If there is a deep wound or hole in the lip, mucosa, or mucus membranes can also be used to fill in the area. The muscles must be carefully repaired to avoid numbness in the lip.

Lip reduction surgery, or cheiloplasty, is another way the lips can be reconstructed. This type of surgery involves removing flaps of skin, as well as mucosa, to form a thinner lip. Although this procedure is used to correct genetic flaws and injuries, it is also done as a cosmetic surgery to enhance the appearance of the lips.

Temporary or permanent side effects can result from lip reconstruction surgery. Loss of feeling or sensation in the lips is one of the most common complaints following this procedure. An uneven lip line or uneven placement of the lips after healing can also occur. Any mucosa or fat added to the lips can form large lumps. Bruising and swelling in the lip area can last for several weeks after lip reconstruction surgery.

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