Thanks to quite a few celebrities who’ve made fuller lips the trendy new standard (looking at you Kylie Jenner), the lip-plumping craze is still going strong. However, while lip enhancement procedures are essentially now a staple in most cosmetic dermatologist’s offices in the United States, there’s another lip craze that’s been flying under the radar—mostly in Asia—and will totally shock you. In fact, this relatively unknown procedure is the opposite of a lip plumper, and instead focuses on reducing the lip size.
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We spotted the trend on Instagram, which is coincidently the same social media platform that made fuller lips so popular. According to New York dermatologist Doris Day MD, this procedure—it seems to be a cultural trend—is mostly done by plastic surgeons and general practitioners on younger patients in their 20s and 30s. “The procedure involves surgically cutting at the wet-dry line and pulling the lip underneath inside the mouth to reduce overall size,” she explains.
Additionally, Dr. Nuttae Nuttapon, a Thailand-based dermatologist, confirms this procedure was predominantly popular in Asia five to 10 years ago, however, it’s still regularly performed, with multiple instances of lip reduction surgery being frequently posted to Instagram. “Asian men and women typically prefer Caucasian facial features, which are narrower cheekbones, deeper eye sockets and thinner lips,” he says. “Nowadays the trend has shifted to prefer thicker lips following the fame of some Hollywood celebrities who have sexy, full lips.”
While the idea of reducing your lip size might seem counterintuitive to beauty standards in the United States, thin lips were often a sign of Western beauty, making it a popular look to imitate in other countries (interestingly enough, the reverse is true when it comes to the U.S.—Asian beauty trends and K-beauty products are hugely popular here). Of course, beauty standards in Asia have changed in the last few years, with the current idealistic look being a mix of what’s popular in both hemispheres. “The typical feature preference is the mix of Western features; large eyes, high nose and pointy chin, with Asian’s fair and flawless skin,” Dr. Nuttapon explains. “[In the past], this lip reduction surgery had fit that trend.”
Although the images post-surgery makes lip reduction appear like a painful and aggressive procedure, it’s surprisingly less-invasive than you’d think. The surgery is generally performed under local anesthesia and the possible side effects are minimal, with pain, swelling, bruising, and redness being the most common.
Ultimately, when it comes to plastic surgery, trends like this shouldn’t be the main driving force behind your decision to go under the knife. Aiming for general improvement, not perfection or the desire to meet a certain beauty standard, is a safer approach to viewing enhancement procedures such as this. Just remember that trends don’t last forever, so make sure that whichever procedure you choose to do, you’re doing for the right reasons.
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