Lip job: A new study reveals how much is too much.


We have all seen them, those pouts that just don’t feel right. A new study tries to uncover what lies in the eyes of the judgmental beholder. Or, in other words, what not to ask for when getting a lip job.

The study— Determining the 2-Dimensional Threshold for Perception of Artificial-Appearing Lips, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) finds a millimetre can be the difference between full natural-looking lips and in-your-face disasters.

About 100 people were asked to look at photographs of a model’s lips that were digitally altered to find out at what point they thought the lips looked unnatural. The participants saw five sets of photographs with a different aspect of the lips altered.

The first set were the ideal lips based on theories and literature.

The second set showed augmentations to the upper lip, the next one to the lower lip. The fourth showed changes to both the upper and lower lip and in the last set the cupid’s bow, which gives the mouth its distinctive shape, was altered.

Participants in the online survey were asked two questions after seeing each photo for about 5 seconds.

1) Do you think these lips received any type of treatments to enhance their appearance?

2) Do you feel that these lips appear attractive and natural, OR artificial and unnatural?

The photos with 1mm to 2mm enhancements seem to be favoured over the more drastic alterations and the participants found changes to the cupid’s bow almost always unappealing.

If you are getting it, you might as well get it from an expert.

A lip job is not cheap. Fillers seem to be the preferred way to enhance lips, which means injecting a substance like acid or collagen these days as opposed to surgical changes. A syringe with 1ml of filler can cost about R. 20,000.

“The effects last for 6 months. Clients come in all shades, older people wanting to look younger, younger people wanting to look like their favourite celebrities. Swayed by pop culture sometimes clients ask for fuller lips that do not suit their face structures or features,” says Dr Deepali Bhardwaj, a Delhi-based dermatologist who is an anti-ageing specialist.

Beauty is subjective, the study recognises, it depends on the culture and different ideas of beauty.

Clinicians have it hard; satisfying the client’s wishes without crossing the fine line into fake. “However, what may seem unnatural lips to one person may be desired by someone else.

Doctors mostly adhere to the wishes of the client but at the same time try to talk them out of looking silly.

“I tell this all the time that less is more, to make sure they don’t end up looking like Donald Ducks,” she says.

Take the lip test:


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