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Lip Reconstruction

Lip reconstruction is a complex procedure that must incorporate all the aspects of lip function and form for the best results. If you have suffered lip trauma or have lips deformed from an illness or a congenital defect, you can trust the experience and expertise of a leading plastic surgeon in New York City, Dr. Gary Linkov. City Facial Plastics, located in Manhattan, NYC, uses cutting-edge technology and methods to repair lips damaged by trauma or disease.

Page Updated: Aug 23, 2021

What Is Lip Reconstruction Surgery?

Lip reconstruction surgery is a complex surgery that restores the physical appearance of the lip without disrupting the function. It involves restoring the natural, delicate properties of the lip to areas that may be visually unappealing or dysfunctional due to prior injury, trauma, or surgery.

Lip reconstruction plastic surgery is one of the most challenging plastic surgeries. The lips are the focal point of the lower third of the face and thus have a strong visual impact to those around us. Further, the lips are of utmost importance to our daily activities; eating, drinking, speaking, and smiling all require properly functioning lips. As such, when part of the lip is deformed, due to either a birth or acquired defect, it can be extremely distressing. Lip reconstruction surgery helps restore lips to their proper form and function.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Lip Reconstruction Surgery?

Many people may be candidates for lip reconstruction surgery. People with congenital abnormalities of the lip or those who have undergone surgery due to a congenital abnormality such as cleft lip/palate who desire an improved aesthetic outcome may benefit from lip trauma repair surgery. Additionally, people who have suffered a trauma, such as lip laceration, or who have undergone surgery for skin cancer removal on or around the lip who are unhappy with their wound or scar are typically good candidates for lip commissure surgery.


He was very nice and confident with the lip procedure. He is also very patient and gentle. I went into it scared but the process was easy and not painful. The recovery from my lip reduction was fast. I am so happy to have trusted him. I feel that my face is complete now. I can now smile and talk with more confidence. He did a great job. highly recommended.
Lorgia Trigoso

What Is the Relevant Anatomy for Lip Reconstruction Surgery?

Some anatomical terms to be familiar with when discussing lip reconstruction surgery include:

  • Philtrum – the space between the base of the nose and the uppermost portion of the upper lip (vermillion border)
  • Philtral columns – the two vertical columns of tissue alongside the philtrum
  • Philtral groove – the U-shape of the philtrum in between the philtral columns
  • White roll – the thin pale tissue separating the skin of the philtrum and the vermillion border
  • Vermillion border – the pink line that encompasses the perimeter of the lips
  • Cupid’s bow – the double curved appearance of the central aspect of the upper lip
  • Tubercle – the prominent piece of tissue in the center of the upper lip
  • Commissure – the line that forms where upper and lower lips meet at the corners

What Are the Types of Lip Reconstruction Surgery?

The types of lip reconstruction are categorized by the size of the defect an individual has. They are summarized below:

Minor reconstruction

Minor lip reconstruction surgery includes surgery that is localized to the vermillion border or is considered a small defect, meaning less than 30% of the upper or lower lip is involved.

Major reconstruction

Major lip reconstruction surgery is surgery performed for medium-sized defects, which are considered defects that involve 30-60% of the lip.

Subtotal/total reconstruction

Subtotal or total lip reconstruction surgery is reserved for large lip defects that involve greater than 60% of the lip.

How Is Lip Reconstruction Surgery Done?

In general, lip reconstruction surgery NYC involves the removal of the defective tissue and replacing the remaining area with normal tissue in such a way that the appearance and function of the lip are preserved.

Surgery performed on the vermillion border typically involves a vermilionectomy, in which the defect involving the vermillion border is removed and skin from the inner part of the lip is pulled to the outer part of the lip to create a new vermillion border. Other minor lip reconstruction surgery typically involves removal of the lip defect in the shape of a wedge and closing of the incision with intricate suture placement.

Major and subtotal or total lip reconstruction surgery is more complex and typically involves the creation of a flap. Flap surgery is surgery in which normal tissue, either from the area immediately surrounding the defect or from an area elsewhere on the body, is placed over the tissue that has been removed, filling the gap and closing the wound. This type of surgery is needed when large pieces of tissue have been removed and the extra tissue is needed to optimize the cosmetic appearance of the lip, facilitate wound healing, and ensure normal lip function.

How to Prepare for Lip Reconstruction Surgery in UES, Manhattan?

Dr. Linkov will discuss the steps you should take to prepare for your NYC lip reconstruction surgery in detail. While everyone’s preparation process may be slightly different, there are a few key measures that everyone should take prior to lip reconstructive surgery. These include:

  • Avoiding medications and supplements that can thin the blood, such as
    • Ibuprofen (Motrin)
    • Naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve)
    • Aspirin
    • Warfarin (coumadin)
    • Vitamin E
  • Stop smoking, as tobacco products decrease blood flow to the skin which may result in poor wound healing
  • Pick up prescribed pre-surgery medications at the pharmacy and bring them to your procedure
  • Choose an escort who will be able to take you home

What to Expect on the Day of Lip Reconstruction Surgery?

Your lip reconstruction surgery in Manhattan’s Upper East Side will be performed either in the office under local anesthesia or in the operating room under general anesthesia. You should not eat or drink for 2 hours prior to your surgery if the surgery is being done with you awake. For general anesthesia, you will be instructed when to eat or drink. If the procedure is done awake, Dr. Linkov will instruct you as to when to take the prescribed pre-surgery medications while in the office.

The amount of time your lip reconstruction surgery will take varies widely based on the type of anesthesia used, time spent marking the surgical site and flaps, the complexity of the anticipated surgery, and if used, the anticipated time to awaken from general anesthesia.

What Is the Recovery From Lip Reconstruction Surgery?

Recovery after lip reconstruction again varies based on the complexity of the surgery that is performed. For patients who undergo minor lip reconstruction surgery, the recovery period typically lasts several weeks. Patients are typically able to go back to work one week after the procedure and may be able to resume exercise one to two weeks after surgery. For patients who undergo major or subtotal/total lip trauma repair surgery for larger defects that require flap formation, the recovery period is several weeks to months and may require an inpatient stay.

What Are the Risks and Complications of Lip Reconstruction Surgery?

Risks and complications of lip reconstruction surgery are similar to other surgeries performed on the face. These risks and complications include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Seroma formation (fluid accumulation under surgical site)
  • Poor or excessive scarring
  • Undesirable aesthetic outcome
  • Facial asymmetry
  • Sensory abnormalities
  • Loss of sensation
  • Microstomia (reduction in the size of the oral aperture)

What Are the Contraindications for Lip Reconstruction Surgery?

There are a few reasons why a person may be unable to undergo lip reconstructive surgery. If you take a blood thinner medication that cannot be stopped prior to surgery (such as aspirin or warfarin) then Dr. Linkov may not be able to safely perform lip reconstruction surgery.

If you have underlying medical conditions that prevent you from receiving general anesthesia then there may be limitations in the type of lip reconstruction surgery that can be performed. If you have a connective tissue disease or other medical condition that compromises wound healing such as uncontrolled diabetes or several peripheral vascular diseases, then you may not be able to undergo lip reconstruction surgery.

Are Patients Satisfied After Lip Reconstruction Surgery?

Patients are generally very satisfied after lip reconstruction surgery. Patients often report improved confidence and self-esteem after surgery. Many patients tell us that they no longer have to use makeup to cover up areas of prior concern, and feel more comfortable using lipstick to draw attention to their lips.

What Is the Cost of Lip Reconstruction Surgery?

The cost of lip reconstruction surgery varies widely based on your location, surgeon, anticipated complexity of the surgery, and use of general anesthesia.

Who Is the Best Lip Reconstruction Surgeon in NYC?

The best lip reconstruction surgeon in NYC is the surgeon with whom you feel most comfortable and most confident in his or her results. With a particular interest and expertise in lips, board-certified NYC facial plastic surgeon Dr. Linkov regularly performs lip reconstruction plastic surgery and would be happy to discuss your options with you. Please view some of his before and after lip reconstruction surgery photos from real patients below.

Lip Reconstruction Before and After

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Undergoing Lip Reconstruction Surgery

Lip reconstruction surgery is complex and requires a customized surgical plan for each patient. Depending on the type and extent of the damage, it can require extensive care to create new lip tissue that will respond to the nerves and muscles that control the mouth. Lip reconstruction may require skin and fat grafting to recreate the lips. Dr. Linkov in Midtown, Manhattan uses his surgical and artistic skills to create lips that restore function while improving the overall appearance of the mouth.

If you or a family member require lip reconstruction surgery, contact City Facial Plastics in New York today. Schedule your appointment to meet with the best-in-class facial plastic surgeon in Manhattan, NY, Dr. Linkov. Discuss options for improving the overall function and aesthetics of damaged or deformed lips through reconstruction surgery.


I met Dr. Linkov for a consultation. He spent quality time with me, going over what I was interested in having done and the best ways to achieve that. He has excellent rapport with clients along with high quality training and education. I wanted to start with some fillers to fill out my lips in certain places and did 3 areas of Jeuveau. His touch was so painless and I did not have any bruising whatsoever. I already see results and his filler placement was done with such perfection. I’m so happy with his work. I will be having a neck and lower face lift in the fall and I will only trust his expertise and hands. He really made me feel cared for, comfortable and valued. I highly recommend seeing Dr. Gary Linkov.

Page Updated on Aug 23, 2021 by Dr. Gary Linkov  (Facial Plastic Surgeon) of  City Facial Plastics in New York.
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