A Quantitative Approach to Determining the Ideal Female Lip Aesthetic and Its Effect on Facial Attractiveness

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Aesthetic proportions of the lips and their effect on facial attractiveness are poorly defined. Established guidelines would aid practitioners in achieving optimal aesthetic outcomes during cosmetic augmentation.


To assess the most attractive lip dimensions of white women based on attractiveness ranking of surface area, ratio of upper to lower lip, and dimensions of the lip surface area relative to the lower third of the face.

Design, Setting, and Participants

In phase 1 of this study, synthetic morph frontal digital images of the faces of 20 white women ages 18 to 25 years old were used to generate 5 varied lip surface areas for each face. These 100 faces were cardinally ranked by attractiveness through our developed conventional and internet-based focus groups by 150 participants. A summed ranking score of each face was plotted to quantify the most attractive surface area. In phase 2 of the study, 4 variants for each face were created with 15 of the most attractive images manipulating upper to lower lip ratios while maintaining the most attractive surface area from phase 1. A total of 60 faces were created, and each ratio was ranked by attractiveness by 428 participants (internet-based focus groups). In phase 3, the surface area from the most attractive faces was used to determine the total lip surface area relative to the lower facial third. Data were collected from March 1 to November 31, 2010, and analyzed from June 1 to October 31, 2016.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Most attractive lip surface area, ratio of upper to lower lip, and dimension of the lips relative to the lower facial third.


In phase 1, all 100 faces were cardinally ranked by 150 individuals (internet-based focus groups [n = 130] and raters from conventional focus groups [conventional raters] [n = 20]). In phase 2, all 60 faces were cardinally ranked by 428 participants (internet-based focus groups [n = 408] and conventional raters [n = 20]). The surface area that corresponded to the range of 2.0 to 2.5 × 104 pixels represented the highest summed rank, generating a pool of 14 images. This surface area was determined to be the most attractive and corresponded to a 53.5% increase in surface area from the original image. With the highest mean and highest proportions of most attractive rankings, the 1:2 ratio was deemed most attractive. Conversely, the ratio of 2:1 was deemed least attractive, having the lowest mean at 1.61 and the highest proportion of ranks within 1 with 310 votes (72.3%).

Conclusions and Relevance

Using a robust sample size, this study found that the most attractive lip surface area represents a 53.5% increase from baseline, an upper to lower lip ratio of 1:2, and a surface area equal to 9.6% of the lower third of the face. Lip dimensions and ratios derived in this study may provide guidelines in improving overall facial aesthetics and have clinical relevance to the field of facial plastic surgery.

Level of Evidence


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