The Skin Diaries Part 4: Smile Solutions

The Skin Diaries: The Case of a Gummy Smile

We’re exploring unique skin stories with our new blog series.

As we start a new year, many of us are thinking about goals; and these can include aesthetic goals, concerns, or resolutions we have for our own appearance!


The nuances of each patient’s skin are as personal and unique as the page of a diary. The different factors that affect how your skin ages, changes, and transforms are as singular as a snowflake. That’s why we’ve created the Skin Diaries series –– to use specific cases to demonstrate how a personalized treatment plan can transform your skin. Step inside some of our patient’s personal stories to see how treatments or procedures addressed their unique needs to rejuvenate their appearance in a way that met their goals. 

Please note that any patients mentioned or shown in the skin series kindly allowed us to use and share their images. The stories we’ll share in our skin diaries series are from happy patients who felt great about sharing their results with our client community, for learning opportunities like this.

The Case

This 19-year-old woman felt self-conscious when smiling because she didn’t like how her upper lip showed so much of her gums. She would often cover her mouth or hesitate to laugh out loud because she was aware of how her smile looked; covering her mouth to hide her smile instead of enjoying the moment she was in. We often see patients who are concerned about their smile or the appearance of their mouth. Because this concern is so readily visible to everyone you meet, it can feel frustrating when it’s linked to self-conscious feelings.

A before and after photo of a woman smiling.

The cause of the concern

This condition is known as a gummy smile (or excessive gingival display) and is most commonly caused by hyperactive upper lip muscles excessively elevating the lip. In some cases, a thin upper lip may further contribute to the problem by exposing the upper gum even more; however, this was not the case for her as you can see in the Before photos. In cases where a thin upper lip is part of the issue, fillers can help fill out lips to contribute to a flattering result.


The personalized treatment plan

The solution here was simple, and did not require surgical intervention. We used a neuromodulator called Dysport® to prevent contraction of muscles. As a result, the upper lip didn’t pull up in the same way when she smiled.

Here’s why it worked

Neuromodulators work by relaxing the muscles that cause deep folds, lines, or wrinkles. In this case, since the gum exposure was caused by an overactive lip muscle, neuromodulators helped relax this muscle for a more natural, warm smile. The upper lip didn’t tense as intensely when a smile spread across this patient’s lips, and she felt more comfortable with her smile.

Want to explore more real results? Explore our online galleries or get started on your own results by booking a consultation with us today.


Meet Our Surgeons

The talented, experienced plastic surgeons at our Kitchener-Waterloo clinic have the advanced training to create exceptional, natural-looking results that meet the individual needs of our patients. The collaborative nature of our practice benefits patients in many ways.

Dr. Robert Shenker Dr. Stephanie Ma
The Cosmetic Surgery Clinic