Complete Guide to Lip Anatomy: Learn Parts, Names & Diagrams

Lips are soft and movable, serving as the opening for food intake and a crucial component in articulating sound and speech. The lip anatomy comprises three layers: skin, muscle, and mucous membrane. What makes lips unique is that they are highly vascularized, allowing them to be exquisitely sensitive to touch and temperature. While the skin on other parts of the body has a protective layer of dead skin cells, the skin on the lips is thinner and lacks this protective barrier. This feature makes lips more susceptible to damage from environmental factors such as wind, sun, and extreme temperatures.

Interestingly, unlike other body parts, lips do not have sweat glands. This distinctive feature is because the lips have a specialized function in both eating and communication. Additionally, the mucous membrane layer of the lips contains individual epithelial cells responsible for absorbing nutrients, secreting mucus, and fighting off pathogens.

A distinctive quality of the lips is their muscular layer. It enables them to move, form, and position themselves for interaction, food, and emotional expression. The lips’ muscles are under the facial nerve’s control. It produces a variety of expressions, from straightforward grins to more nuanced ones that indicate different emotions.

Lips Anatomy Diagram

Lips Anatomy, Parts, Names & Diagram

Parts of a Lip

  • Skin
  • Subcutaneous Tissue
  • Vermilion Border
  • Labial Gland
  • Minor Salivary Gland
  • Labial Artery
  • Labial Vein
  • Nerves
  • Philtrum
  • Cupid’s Bow
  • Frenulum
  • Taste Buds
  • Lymph Nodes
  • Melanocytes

Lips Muscle Names

  • Orbicularis Oris Muscle
  • Levator Labii Superioris Muscle
  • Zygomaticus Minor Muscle
  • Zygomaticus Major Muscle
  • Depressor Labii Inferioris Muscle
  • Mentalis Muscle
  • Buccinator Muscle

Lips Anatomy: Parts & Functions


In contrast to the rest of the body, the skin on the lips is unique. It is extraordinarily thin and sensitive, with few hair follicles, sweat glands, and sebaceous glands.

As a result, the lips are very sensitive organs that are particularly susceptible to environmental harm from exposure to the sun, wind, and freezing temperatures.

Additionally, the skin of the lips is quite vascular and has many blood vessels essential for supplying oxygen and nutrients to the skin cells. The lips’ dense vascular network gives them their distinctive red hue but makes them more vulnerable to bleeding when wounded.

Additionally, lips are especially vulnerable because they lack the protective covering of dead skin cells found on other body regions rendering them more susceptible to dryness, cracking, and chapping.

Subcutaneous Tissue

The subcutaneous tissue, a magnetic layer of fat cells, blood arteries, and nerves, sits beneath the skin of the lips. The subcutaneous tissue regulates the temperature of the lips while providing support and comfort.

Individual differences exist in the subcutaneous tissue’s thickness. Age also causes alterations in it. Younger people often have thicker subcutaneous tissue, giving their lips more fullness and shape. The volume and definition of the lips, however, diminish with age.

Lip Muscle Anatomy

Orbicularis Oris Muscle

Only humans and other primates possess the extremely specialized orbicular oris muscle. It has muscular fibres with slow and quick twitches, enabling fine control over the lips’ motions. The facial nerve, one of the body’s most intricate and well-developed nerves, innervates the muscle.

Many facial artery branches supply the orbicular oris muscle with blood. It manages the opening and closure of the mouth during talking and eating in addition to closing and puckering the lips.

It’s interesting to note that women have more developed orbicularis oris muscles than males have. It could be connected to the increased significance of nonverbal cues and facial expressions in female social interactions.

Levator Labii Superioris Muscle

The levator labii superiors muscle is vital for social interaction and conveys various emotions, including happiness, rage, and disgust. The muscle comprises muscular fibres of kinds I and II, which promotes strength and endurance.

The face artery supplies the muscle with a plentiful supply of blood, and the facial nerve, one of the body’s most intricate nerves, innervates it.

The current study suggests that the levator labii superioris muscle may influence our taste sensation. Specialized taste receptors for bitter, umami, and sweet flavours have been discovered in the muscle.

Zygomaticus Minor Muscle

A minor but crucial facial expression muscle is the zygomaticus minor. It mostly consists of type II muscular fibres, which enable quick and forceful motions. The facial artery supplies blood to the muscle while the nerve innervates it.

The zygomaticus minor muscle lifts and pulls the top lip laterally to produce a smirk or modest grin. To generate a wide grin, it cooperates with the zygomaticus major muscle.

It’s interesting to note that the current study suggests the zygomaticus minor muscle may be involved in controlling emotions. Scientists have discovered that the muscle is active during emotional regulation activities, indicating that it may help control how strongly unpleasant emotions like fear and anger are expressed.

Zygomaticus Major Muscle

A strong facial muscle is the zygomaticus major. It starts from the zygomatic bone and continues to the mouth’s corner. This muscle primarily expresses positive emotions. Deep creases appear around the eyes, and the corners of the lips are pulled up.

Recent research has suggested that chewing may include the zygomaticus major muscle. It facilitates the movement of the mandible and the crushing of food.

Depressor Labii Inferioris Muscle

A special muscle is the depressor labii inferioris. It joins to the bottom lip and goes along the lower jawline. This muscle plays a role in many different facial expressions. It can help with pouting, scowling, and other facial emotions. Additionally, it affects swallowing and speaking.

The depressor labii inferioris muscle, however, has an unexpected purpose, according to the current study. Constricting and widening the blood arteries in the area could aid in controlling blood flow to the lower face.

Mentalis Muscle

A little but important muscle called the mentalis is in the middle of the chin. This muscle is important for communication and expression and involves several actions, including puckering the lips and wrinkling the chin.

There is a fascinating physiologic use for the mentalis muscle. Recent research suggests it acts as a heat sink to control the brain’s temperature. It prevents the brain cortex from overheating by absorbing extra heat.

Buccinator Muscle

The buccinator is a sophisticated muscle that spans the cheeks horizontally. It includes several processes: speaking, grinning, chewing, and swallowing. A recent study has discovered a novel function for the buccinator muscle in breathing.

By regulating the pressure inside the mouth cavity, it could assist in regulating airflow into and out of the lungs. This finding has significant ramifications for how we comprehend the respiratory system. It could open the door to novel breathing disease therapies.

Vermilion Border

A unique and distinctive transition area is the Vermillion border. It delineates the partition between the face’s skin and the lips’ distinct red-coloured tissue. Large blood veins abound in this area, giving the lips their unique pinkish-red tint. On the human face, it makes people visually beautiful.

Recent research has shown that the vermillion border’s severe and only found in human biology colouration. As a sexually dimorphic characteristic, it is useful. It is thought that greater oestrogen levels are blamed for women’s heightened pigmentation. Oestrogen increases the colour of the lips and boosts blood flow there.

This phenomenon is believed to have developed as a visual indicator of female health and fecundity. It becomes more seductive to potential partners as a result. Therefore, the Vermillion border is more than just a temporary boundary. It is a crucial characteristic that supports human evolution and procreation.

Mucous Membrane

The mucous membrane inside the lips is an amazing tissue with unique biological characteristics. It has a wide network of blood vessels and a thin layer of epithelial cells, which help keep the lips at their ideal levels of hydration and lubrication.

Additionally, various specialized glands that create and exude mucus are housed inside this membrane. For the lips to move smoothly and seamlessly, mucus secretion is essential. Speaking, eating, or engaging in other oral activities creates a slick surface and lessens friction.

This mucous membrane demonstrates the remarkable flexibility and variety of human tissue. It has developed to do incredibly specialized tasks regarding the lips. It is essential to the construction and function of the oral cavity due to the many cell types, circulatory networks, and glandular structures that make up its composition.

Labial Gland

The labial gland is a unique salivary gland that can only be located in the lips. Its very thin and watery saliva distinguishes it from other oral glands. The gland’s extraordinary abilities don’t stop there, though.

It also generates a complex mixture of specialized proteins and enzymes, making digestion and dental hygiene essential. The unusual makeup of the labial gland contributes to the complex oral cavity environment. It completes its essential tasks with unmatched accuracy and efficiency.

Minor Salivary Gland

The lips’ mucous membranes include the minor salivary gland, a tiny yet powerful organ. Saliva production by these glands is crucial for maintaining good dental health.

Enzymes, immunoglobulins, and other proteins are found in the secretion from these glands, which helps digest food, ward off dangerous microorganisms, and balance the mouth’s acidic environment. The secretion of the minor salivary gland significantly influences the tongue’s ability to taste.

The minor salivary gland secretes saliva as we eat, coating the tongue and enabling the taste receptors to recognize the various flavours.

Labial Artery

The labial artery, a crucial blood vessel that supplies the lips with oxygen and nutrients, is extremely important to maintain optimum thermoregulation.

This amazing blood channel, a facial artery branch, runs along the lower lip’s inner surface, supplying this delicate and important organ with vital nutrients and oxygen.

The labial artery’s capabilities go beyond only supplying nutrients, though. This extraordinary blood channel may vasoconstrictor in colder climates, slowing blood flow and preventing heat loss from the lips. Doing so keeps the lips’ temperature within a range adequate for their normal physiological processes.

On the other side, the labial artery may widen in warmer weather. It promotes blood flow to the lips, which aids in the removal of extra heat. The dilation procedure ensures the lips’ temperature stays within a biologically desirable range. Heat stress and other associated physiological problems are avoided.

Labial Vein

The labial vein removes deoxygenated blood from the lips, returning it to the heart. It flows parallel to the labial artery and is a branch of the facial vein. The labial vein contributes to the immune response by delivering white blood cells to the infection-affected region.


The human lip is one of the most intricate parts of the body. They are home to a massive sensory and motor nerve network. These nerves allow us to speak, eat, drink, and enjoy ourselves.

The very sensitive and tightly packed sensory nerves in the lips. They let us feel the smallest pressure, temperature, and texture changes. These impulses are sent to the brain and translated into feelings, including pain, pleasure, and warmth.

The lips’ motor nerves are very important. They make it possible to speak, eat, and do other things with the lips and mouth. These neurons regulate lip motions, enabling exact, quick, and reliable actions.


Only humans possess the distinctive anatomical structure known as the philtrum. It is said to be crucial to human facial expression and communication. The little groove extends from the base of the nose to the top lip.

During embryonic development, the two parts of the face unite to create the philtrum. It is a crucial turning point in the evolution of the face. The philtrum, which is present in millions of people worldwide and is a frequent congenital deformity, is thought by some experts to be an evolutionary holdover from cleft lip and palate.

There is still disagreement over this hypothesis. But there’s no denying that the philtrum is a distinctive and significant human anatomy component.

Cupid’s Bow

The centre portion of the top lip forms the unique “M” shape known as the Cupid’s bow. It is called for Cupid, the Roman deity of love, whose bow is said to resemble this one.

A sexually dimorphic characteristic that is more pronounced in girls than men is the Cupid’s bow. This characteristic, linked to femininity and youth, is a key indicator of sexual attraction.

Two tissue ridges come together to produce Cupid’s bow. The Philtral Columns are what they are called. At the apex of the philtrum, these ridges come together. They have a thin layer of skin covering them. Cosmetic surgery can be used to improve or reshape this skin. A more visually attractive look is the aim.

However, it is important to note that any surgical procedure involving the lips carries significant risks, including infection, scarring, and nerve damage.


The frenulum, a little but mighty structure, greatly impacts the stability and flexibility of the lips and tongue.

A highly vascularized and innervated tissue fold is the frenulum. It gives the tongue and lips extraordinary sensitivity and control. Fluent speaking and efficient mastication depend on this sensitivity and accuracy. The frenulum’s sensory nerve terminals and blood vessels provide fast and precise sensory feedback. It makes it easier for the complex actions in the mouth cavity to be coordinated.

The incredible precision and elegance of the human oral motor system are made possible by the frenulum, a fundamental anatomical component.

Taste Buds

They are highly specialized sensory organs capable of picking up even the smallest taste variations. Taste buds are a pervasive and potent force in the oral cavity since they are situated on the tongue, the roof of the mouth, and the back of the throat.

Each taste bud is home to a group of highly trained taste receptor cells that can recognize a variety of flavours. Due to their extraordinary sensitivity and selectivity, these cells can identify tastes with uncanny accuracy and precision. They are like detectives who can decipher even the most intricate tastes produced by blending many foods.

The capacity to regenerate, however, is what truly distinguishes these little taste detectives. They have a remarkable capacity for regeneration, ensuring that our sense of taste stays acute and

Lymph Nodes

The immune system’s unsung heroes are the lymph nodes. When hazardous bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens enter the body, they operate as filters, capturing and eliminating them. T and B cells, among other immune cells, are found in lymph nodes and cooperate to combat infection.

The lymph nodes can enlarge to many times their usual size as they prepare to launch a defence when they sense the presence of an invader.


The body’s colour-producing artists, known as melanocytes, produce the hues that distinguish our skin, hair, and eyes. They are specialized cells that generate melanin, a pigment that shields the skin from UV radiation’s damaging effects.

Skin and lips contain melanocytes essential for preserving colour and health. Melanocytes are found in greater abundance in the lips than in other body parts, which enables them to respond and adapt to environmental changes.

However, melanocytes can malfunction due to excessive UV exposure or certain drugs, which can change the colour of the lips or possibly the onset of skin cancer.

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