read my lips

January 25, 2019 / Lifestyle

A recent study from the United Kingdom published its surprising findings, “In in the first 10 seconds of meeting a woman, a man spends about half that time on average looking directly at her lips.” The research also suggests that lips and perceived attractiveness are intricately linked. In addition, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons highlighted an increase of 50% for lip augmentations just over the last 10 years. We are on a quest for the perfect pout, and I recently spoke with two industry experts on how to achieve it.

Dr. Nicole Seminara and Dr. Euphemia Mu are dermatologist who have the luxury of working with both a close friend, and a trusted colleague. They are part of the Piedmont Plastic Surgery and Dermatology team – and have a long history in the medical field together well before connecting in Charlotte, North Carolina. They originally met at Stanford, then years later again at NYU while Dr. Seminara was attending physician and Dr. Mu was completing residency. Nicole and Euphemia’s paths have intersected so many times that it seems almost fated they would eventually team up.

Do lips go through “trends”? For example, do full, plump lips ever go out of style or is that a consistent look we all try to achieve through the decades?

Lips, like hair and makeup, have progressed through many trends, often driven by celebrities. Experimentation with a wide range of fillers began with permanent fillers like paraffin wax in the 1900s and silicone in the 1960s. This began the dreaded era of “duck lips” and “trout pouts.” With the rise of social media, images of augmented voluptuous lips have become increasingly popular. Today, trends have evolved to focus more on balance and shape rather than pure volume, aiming to produce a more natural look.

What are the current “lip trends”?

Regional preferences play an important role in one’s desired look. We’ve found that people on the west coast lean toward a more exaggerated “glam” lip while those on the east coast often prefer a more natural look. The current trend is towards more natural appearing lips that look balanced, rejuvenated, and believable.

We keep hearing about the lip flip, what is that? How does the appearance compare to filler?

A lip flip is a relatively recent technique of creating lip fullness using a small amount of neurotoxin (i.e., Botox, Dysport) rather than traditional fillers. When you inject Botox/Dysport along the margin of the lip it relaxes the muscle that normally pulls your lip under thus allowing more lip to show. It is most often used for the upper lip and is particularly useful for people who lose their top lip when they smile. This procedure is low cost (often requiring only 4-8 units of Botox) and low commitment because the effect typically wears off by 6 weeks. Be warned that you may temporarily lose the ability to sip from a straw, whistle, or play wind instruments. Flutists beware.

What is the “go to” procedure for achieving fuller lips?

For increasing lip volume, the go to procedure is filler. Filler is a safe way to increase volume and provide definition that can last 6 to 12 months. There are many techniques for injecting filler but to achieve a pretty lip it’s important to respect normal anatomy. The surest sign of poorly done filler is when natural landmarks (i.e. cupid’s bow, lip pillows) are effaced creating a uniform shapeless lip.

How do you decide which treatment option is the best for a patient for something as noticeable as lips?

The best treatment option is highly personal. When patients come in for a consultation, we listen to what the patient’s goals are – Volume? Smoothing of lines? Hydration? Shape change? Natural look? Dramatic look? We evaluate the patient’s inherent anatomy and movement. We encourage natural appearing, softer enhancement that boosts a patient’s best individual features. The lips should also be proportional to the rest of the face. People with larger features can often get away with more lip volume and still look natural.

How important is a provider’s technique and aesthetic?

Good question! There is both a science and an art to performing lip enhancements so finding the provider who suits your taste is incredibly important. Some providers specialize in a more “glam” exaggerated lip. These lips achieve a certain sexiness but are obviously and unapologetically enhanced. Other providers (we included) have a more natural aesthetic, full but believable.

How does someone choose the right provider for lip treatments?

With ever more avenues to obtain lip treatments, it can be hard to figure out where to go. Always check your provider’s credentials before consenting to lip treatments. Board-certified dermatologists and plastic surgeons are cosmetic specialists, who are extensively trained in facial anatomy of the lips and surrounding structures. Proper training leads to safer treatments and more natural looking results. Your lips are one of your most valuable assets – you are worth the best care!

Nicole Seminara, MD attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, then completed her dermatology residency at Stanford University. After residency, Nicole went on to work at New York University (NYU) for 5 years where she was the director of the dermatology course for the medical school and an assistant professor in the dermatology department.

Euphemia W. Mu, MD attended medical school at Johns Hopkins University, completed her dermatology residency at NYU, and finished her Mohs surgery fellowship at Mount Sinai. After graduation, she returned to her home state of North Carolina, where she helped build the Lake Norman offices at Piedmont Plastic Surgery & Dermatology.

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