The desire for more sensual, shapely, and BIGGER lips is not new in our culture. It’s been going on for over 50 years. Though the trend hasn’t change, what has changed is the magnitude. I recently read a piece in Slate about some rather unfortunate runway appearances involving overdone lips. The article is subtitled “the rise of the trout-pout” – a graphic if not wholly accurate description of the phenomenon of overdone lips – and traces the current rise of the sensual mouth from Brigitte Bardot in the 1950’s and 1960’s to modern stars like Angelina Jolie.
One thing that I think we can all agree on is that a full, well-contoured, nicely colored pair of lips can be extremely alluring. The unfortunate truth with lip augmentation (and with aesthetic procedures of any kind) is that too much of a good thing really is too much… and that the line between alluring and cartoonish is a fine but important one. The author takes two examples of older celebs and film-industry personas (Jackie Stallone and Ivone Weldon); in both cases, the lips are over-plumped and way out of proportion. Rather than being emphasized, they literally dominate the face.
On the other hand, Angelina’s lips are nearly perfect. Natural or not, they have a beautiful shape, just the right amount of fullness, and a nice balance. The ideal lip relationship is 1/3, 2/3: the upper lip is 1/3 of the total height/volume, while the lower is 2/3. In addition, natural-appearing lips have a central fullness (more pronounced in the lower lip) and a gentle taper toward the corners of the mouth. Finally, beautiful lips have a clearly-defined Cupid’s Bow (the center part of the upper lip, where it meets the filtrum (those ridges that descend from the bottom of the nose). In cases where lips are overdone, the balance and features of the lips is obscured by all the excess volume. This doesn’t only change the appearance of the lips at rest, it can make facial expressions seem unnatural.
This is not to say that lip augmentation should be avoided – quite the contrary. The lips are frequently overlooked in treatment of the aging face, and a flat, devolumized, or elongated upper lip can significantly detract from overall facial attractiveness. As a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon, I treat the lips routinely with both surgical and non-surgical enhancements. Carefully placed fillers or fat grafts can make a huge difference in facial rejuvenation, and a skillfully performed lip lift can be the icing on the cake of a facelift, neck lift, or eyelid lift. The key with lips, as with most things in life, is balance.