Plump, luscious lips are the rage these days. Angelina Jolie started the trend, and Kylie Jenner and other celebrities are fueling the fire. Many of these stars have boosted their allure with lip augmentation treatments, like fat transfer, fillers, and surgical lip enhancements. And it’s not just movie stars and celebrities who are enhancing their lips. The treatments are booming in popularity among ordinary women who want to look their best.
This Valentine’s Day, give yourself the gift of a pretty pout and more enticing and kissable lips. Lip fillers like Juvéderm® offer a quick and easy solution. The treatments are fast, there’s no downtime, and the results last for six months to a year. Microfat grafts are a more permanent approach, transferring fat from another part of your body to your lips for a long-lasting enhancement. The most permanent changes occur with a lip lift or another type of surgical enhancement, which extend and shape the contours of your lips for greater appeal.
You don’t need to be a star to be part of the lip enhancement trend, but one of these treatments can make you feel like one.
Why Do We Find Fuller Lips Attractive?
Women have painted their lips for centuries to make themselves more attractive, through wave after wave of changing ideals in facial beauty. Lipstick makes it easier to have noticeable lips, and we continue to refine that look with new colors and glosses and with techniques like outlining. It’s more than just feminine intuition driving this. Science shows it’s effective.
Recent studies have used eye-tracking monitors to see how much time a man spends looking at different parts of a woman’s face when they first meet. It turns out the lips are a primary focus, and the appearance of the lips makes a significant difference. Even when the woman has lips of average width and wears no lipstick, he spends more time looking at her lips than at any other part of her face. But if she has full lips or is wearing red or pink lipstick, it captivates the male gaze. In the first 20 seconds, he’ll spend seven looking at her lips and less than one looking at her eyes — and even less time scanning her hair or other facial features.
Full, pouting lips turn out to be a perennial draw, more than the color enhancements of lipstick. Scientists have different theories about why this is. One is that plump lips send a signal of youth and vitality, which is both a sexual attraction and an unconscious invitation to warm, caring feelings. It’s a fact that women’s faces tend to retain more childlike features than men’s do, such as large eyes, full lips, and less prominent chins. And research has found that the more accentuated these female features are, the greater their appeal. Why this might be is an open question. One possible answer is that they instinctively trigger caretaking responses, similar to our responses when we encounter young children. Whatever the reason, we know that people notice plump lips for all the right reasons.
One explanation for why it’s hard to make definitive statements about what’s attractive is that social fashions change over time. What we consider ideal facial features are different today than they were 100 years ago. But plump, alluring lips are in vogue in the 2020s.
Most of us don’t arrive in the world with full, rounded, pouty lips. Then, as we age, our lips tend to lose volume. That’s why many of us need help, whether from artful makeup or enhancement treatments. The numbers show the trend. Kylie Jenner’s cosmetics company, built on her lip accentuation products, has been hugely successful. It’s now worth over $1 billion. The number of lip augmentation procedures has soared by 60% since 2000, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Then there’s the evidence of Instagram. Users of that platform have tagged more than 34 million posts #lips, and over 1.2 million have the hashtag #lipfillers.
What’s the Ideal for Lip Beauty?
Fuller and more deeply colored lips can draw more attention than thin, pale ones, but that’s not all there is to lip beauty. Far from it. Side-to-side symmetry is critical, as is the shape of the lips, especially the curve of the upper lip. The balance in thickness between the upper lower lips matters, too.
Look closely at images of celebrity faces, and you’ll see a wide range of attractive combinations of all of these factors. Pay attention, first, to the shape of the upper lip. The cupid’s bow is one ideal of lip beauty — an upper lip edge that dips in the center between two upward curves to the sides. Rihanna and Taylor Swift have dramatic cupid’s bows. Angelina Jolie and Kylie Jenner have more subtle ones. But Julia Roberts looks gorgeous with a level upper lip that has no cupid’s bow at all.
The ratio between the thickness of the upper and lower lips is another aesthetic standard. Researchers have identified the 1:1 ratio — upper and lower lips that are equal in width — as the most attractive to most people around the world. Scarlett Johansson’s lips have this “perfect” ratio. But some of the most beautiful faces have lips with very different balances. Kylie Jenner and Jessica Alba have fuller lower lips, and it makes for a striking look. A fuller upper lip (known as a “trout pout”) can also be attractive.
The “keyhole pout” is another beauty ideal — a small gap in the center of the mouth when the lips are closed. It adds a subtle exclamation point to your mouth’s at-rest appearance.
Of course, ethnic and racial characteristics play a role in facial aesthetics, and the ideal for your face is unique to you. The good news is that the simple lip-enhancement treatments used by the stars are available to you, too, and can help to subtly add to your allure.
Get Plump, Kissable Lips With Microfat Grafts
Microfat grafts, also called fat grafting or fat injections, transplant fat from a part of the body that can use slimming into an area that needs more volume. The procedure can restore fullness to the cheeks as they gradually hollow with age, or fill in facial wrinkles and folds. And it’s an ideal way to add volume to the lips.
In a microfat graft procedure, fat gets harvested from another part of the body using liposuction. Stubborn pockets of fat on the abdomen or thighs or around the waist are typical targets for liposuction, and the resultant slimming is a valuable benefit of the treatment. The fat then gets processed and injected into the area that needs more fullness. Microfat grafts in the lips produce natural-looking and long-lasting results. Your body will process a small amount of the injected fat in the weeks following treatment, but most of it stays in place to add permanent volume, plumping the lips and giving them a more kissable look.
Many women like the fact that microfat grafts use tissue from their bodies. And they appreciate the two-for-one aspect of the procedure — eliminating a bothersome buildup of fat in one part of the body and using some of it to add volume where necessary.
Microfat grafts are an excellent choice for women with naturally thin lips or lips that have thinned with age. They can also correct lip asymmetry or to change the balance between the upper and lower lips. By selectively leaving a gap in the center of the lips, the procedure can also create a keyhole pout.
Add Lip Volume With Injectable Fillers
Another way to get plumper lips is with injectable fillers. Most have the key ingredient of hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring substance in the body that works to retain moisture in the middle and lower layers of the skin. It can also stimulate the production of collagen, a compound that contributes to the flexibility of our skin. We produce high levels of collagen when we are young, but as we grow older, the concentration of collagen drops, and this is a major factor in the volume loss, sagging, and wrinkling that we associate with aging skin.
Different formulations of dermal fillers fulfill specific cosmetic purposes. Some soften lines and wrinkles on the face, while others fill in hollowed areas. Juvéderm is an ideal choice for fuller lips. Its gel-based formula matches the density and flexibility of the lips to create beautiful and natural-looking results.
Lip enhancement with Juvéderm is fast and easy. The injections take just 15 to 30 minutes in our well-appointed office, and there’s no real downtime. The plumping effects last for six months to a year. When the volume boost starts to fade, you can come in for a refresher treatment.
The results of Juvéderm injections can be dramatic, though a skilled doctor will take care to create a natural look. The treatment offers a faster, though shorter-lived alternative to microfat grafts and can create the same kinds of improvements to the lips. Juvéderm injections add volume to naturally thin lips or lips that have lost volume with age and can correct lip asymmetry and change the balance between the upper and lower lips.
You might choose to supplement Juvéderm lip enhancement with filler treatments on other parts of your face. Juvéderm and other fillers, such as Restylane® and Juvéderm® Voluma, can erase or soften facial lines and wrinkles and add volume to the cheeks or under the eyes.
Surgical Lip Enhancement
Sometimes, it takes more to enhance the lips than merely adding volume. It’s possible to widen and lift thin upper lips with a surgical procedure known as lip shortening or lip lift. An upper lip lift procedure shortens the space between the nose and the upper lip by removing a thin strip of skin, either from just below the nose or from along the edge of the upper lip (aka the “vermilion border”). The distance between the nose and the upper lip tends to increase with age as facial skin stretches and drops, so shortening it with a lip lift gives the face a younger appearance. The procedure also pulls the dark tissue of the lip upward to create a wider, fuller look. By varying the width and shape of the skin removed, Dr. Singer can enhance the lips’ appearance in different ways. For example, he can shape a straight upper lip to form a cupid’s bow if desired.
Surgical lip enhancement is the most permanent option for enhancing the lips, but it also requires some time for recovery and for the final results to appear. In the first days after surgery, your lips will be swollen, and this swelling may take a few weeks to completely disappear. As with all plastic surgery, a lip lift also leaves scars. Careful placement along the edge of the lip or in the folds of skin beneath the nose will hide them, but they will be darker and redder in the first weeks after surgery before they lighten to match the color of the surrounding skin. Until they have fully lightened, you can conceal them with makeup.
Treat Yourself to a Prettier Pout This Valentine’s Day
Give yourself a Valentine’s Day gift of luscious, alluring lips. Dr. Robert Singer, in La Jolla and San Diego, is a board-certified plastic surgeon skilled in creating beautiful and natural-looking results. Call us at (858) 455-0290 or contact us today to schedule a consultation.