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Upper Lip

Upper Lip

Labium superius oris

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The lips are the soft, visible part of the humans’ mouth and comprise the upper and the lower lips. Together these serve as the gatekeepers of the oral cavity.

The upper lip covers the body of the maxilla anteriorly. It is raised by facial muscles, such as levator labii superioris, levator labii superioris alaeque nasi, levator anguli oris, and zygomaticus major and minor, which help open the oral orifice. The center of the upper lip has a labial tubercle. The tubercle is situated at the base of the philtrum, a vertical groove extending from the labial tubercle to the nasal septum.

The lips are richly innervated structures. The upper lip receives its cutaneous sensory innervation from the infraorbital nerve (branch of maxillary nerve), which also innervates the facial skin between the upper lip and the lower eyelid.

Arterial supply to the upper lips comes from the superior labial branch of the facial artery (a branch of the external carotid artery).

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Related parts of the anatomy

Key Features/Anatomical Relations

The surface of the lips is covered by a thin skin comprising of stratified squamous epithelium. It is non-hairy and lacks sweat glands.

Externally, the lips’ skin forms a junction with the surrounding facial skin, which is marked by the vermilion border (also called the cupid’s bow in the case of the upper lip). Internally, it forms a junction with the mucous membrane inside the oral cavity.


Serving as the gatekeepers of the oral cavity, the lips help in food intake and in articulation of speech. Moreover, being tactile sensory organs and due to their rich sensory innervation, they also serve as erogenous zones in acts of intimacy. Additionally, lips also contribute to the facial expressions.

List of Clinical Correlates

- Cleft lip (and palate)

- Cheilitis

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A “cosmetic product” represents “any substance or mixture intended to be placed in contact with the external parts of the human body (epidermis, hair system, nails, lips, and external genital organs) or with the teeth and the mucous membranes of the oral cavity with a view exclusively or mainly to cleaning them, perfuming them, changing their appearance, protecting them, keeping them in good condition or correcting body odors” (EU, 2009).

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