Scientific Formula Reveals ‘Ideal’ Female Lips


Who can forget Elise (played by Goldie Hawn) in the 1996 movie “The First Wives Club” and her obsession with plastic surgery — her lips, in particular. In case you did, here’s a clip.

Elise, a Hollywood actress, demands fuller lips from a reluctant plastic surgeon. In one particularly hilarious scene, the lips look like monstrosities when she emerges from surgery.


The truth is, the movie was right on the mark. While women who want fuller lips may have an idea of what they think those perfect lips should look like, sometimes they end up being wrong. Doctors, meanwhile, must “eyeball” what they think their patient wants.

The result? Lots of botched lip jobs.

Research published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery aims to remedy that. The study — based on a Facebook poll of roughly 500 participants — has now defined the “ideal female lip aesthetic.”

These lips, with their upper to lower lip ratio of 1:2, are the “perfect” female lips, according to the JAMA report.

So, what is it? “This study found that the most attractive lip surface area represents a 53.5 percent increase from baseline, an upper to lower lip ratio of 1:2, and a surface area equal to 9.6 percent of the lower third of the face,” conclude the authors, led by Dr. Brian J.F. Wong of the University of California, Irvine.

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Per the study, many women want to fix what is referred to as “the senile lip.”

“Well-defined and full lips convey youth and attractiveness, representing a key feature of the lower facial third,” the authors write. “Whether the goal is to restore the senile lip to its previous youthful glory or mimic the pouty appearance of the social media starlet, lip augmentation has become an increasing trend.”

The study aimed to determine the most attractive surface area. Credit: JAMA Network

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Credit: Christine Roth/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

The study authors report that while “dermal fillers for lip enhancement are relatively low cost and generally safe, aesthetic guidelines to direct the clinician in lip augmentation remain elusive and are primarily based on patient preference and surgeon eye.”

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Catherine P. Winslow of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the Indiana University School of Medicine says that many women come in wanting the lips of a certain celebrity. But this doesn’t always work out as planned.

Credit: celebrityabc/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

“First, there is such a thing as too much when it comes to filling the lips,” Winslow writes. “Second, proportion and lip ratio must be respected. Third, balance of the lip region must be maintained.”

As for Goldie Hawn, it appears life has imitated art. The Daily Mail of London poked fun at her in 2010 for an alleged lip job, questioning whether she had “succumbed to the dreaded trout pout.” And just last year, several tabloid websites claimed she did it again.

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