Beautous lips, hideous lips, all kinds of lips. When getting that filler or lip reconstruction, it's important to know in advance what kind of lips you're likely to end up with.
How much is too much? What's the dividing line between natural-looking lips and those that belong in a horror movie?
"One of the main challenges for clinicians is to know when to stop treating the lips before the results appear artificial and unnatural..." Dr. Sang W. Kim and Dr. Daniel E. Rousso stated in their study. "Despite the best intentions, this decision can sometimes lead to misguided and unintended consequences."
Starting from a model's photo, the researchers digitally altered the photo to make it look more generic, so it wasn't recognizable as any individual. They they further altered specific features of the lips. They used this lip line-up in an online survey and collected the responses.
"We had participants who would provide us a binary response to the question," Kim said. "The first question being, whether the picture of the lips appear attractive and natural. And the second question would prompt the participant to answer whether it looks artificial and unnatural."
Breaking down beauty
Kim and Rousso took that information and analyzed it to determine which combinations of components (such as upper lip width, how the corners of the mouth meet, and "poutiness") were attractive and which were repulsive.
In theory, the subjective feeling toward the lips could be reduced to these numerical measurements. A formula for kissability, as it were.
So what's the secret to really attractive and natural lips?
"There's really no simple answer to that question," Kim said in a podcasted interview with the journal. (accompanying this story, with photos).
One reason is that those seeking lip augmentation have different ideas about what is beautiful, Kim said.
"The younger demographics are more interested in the more plump, trendy appearance often seen in the media or the movies," he said.
"The second group are the more mature, senior population, who present with more of the atropic appearance of the aged lips. For those patients, the motivation is to restore, or rejuvenation back to the more youthful lip, not necessarily the voluptuous, trendy look."
In addition, Kim said the desirability or the lack of it in lips isn't determined by absolute measurements of the upper or lower lips, but their proportions relative to each other. The lower lip should be slightly larger than the upper lip.
"As long as those proportions are maintained, the observers tend to perceive the augmented lips as looking more attractive and natural," he said.
Hope for damaged lips
That's also good news for those who've ended up with lopsided lips, the study said.
"One interesting finding is that the artificial appearance of an overenhanced upper lip can be corrected by overenhancing the lower lip, as long as the height of the lower lip is 1.6 times the height of the upper lip," the study stated.
"The ideal ratio in heights of the upper to lower lips as 1:1.618 has often been described in textbooks and the literature as the divine proportion or the golden ratio."
Or in summary:
"The key to achieving an attractive and natural lip enhancement is to perform a balanced augmentation of the upper and lower lips."