If you’ve ever wanted to get plastic surgery based on the opinion of people from the internet, a new study is here to help.
The study, published this week in the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, supposedly reveals the most attractive lip dimensions (for white women) so that plastic surgeons can achieve “optimal aesthetic outcomes.” Now, it’s true that people focus on lip shape a lot — as The Weeknd reminds us, hot girls have “lips like Angelina.” And it makes sense that someone going to the trouble of getting plastic surgery wants to get the most bang for her buck. But it might not be too useful to trust a study that’s basically “hot or not.”
First, the authors selected photos of 20 attractive white women; these were digitally generated, not real photos. Then they manipulated the surface area of the lips to be bigger or smaller, and asked a focus group of 130 people on a facial-rating website to rank the hotness of these photos. This is how they determined the ideal lip surface area.
Next, they did the same thing with faces that differed in upper lip to lower lip ratio, or how thin the upper lip is compared to the lower lip. The focus group this time was made of 408 people from the internet.
Based on what these online people said, we now know that the most attractive faces are those with a lower lip that’s about twice as big as the upper lip; and an overall lip size of about 9.6 percent of the total area of the lower third of the face. Whatever that really means.
The point of this study, write the authors, is to help plastic surgeons figure out what the most attractive dimensions are, “objectively.” That’s needed because current guidelines are done “based on patient preference and surgeon eye,” the study says. In another study published in 2010, the same authors wrote that the opinions of these “internet-based focus groups” matched up pretty well to the opinions of people who did the exercise in person. In fact, in both parts of today’s study, the researchers asked 20 people to rate the attractiveness in person.
But at the end of the day, it’s the patient who is going to live with the new lips for the rest of her life. So maybe, just say, “patient preference” actually is more important than the opinions of a few hundred strangers.