The Biology of Fuller Lips – Why Women Want Lip Enhancement

One of the images highly associated with Valentine’s Day are lips…big, red and full lips. They are as synonymous with this day as much as chocolate and flowers. While big lips may be highly visible on this one day, they are actually sought out every other day of the year as well. Lip enhancement has been one of the popular office procedures in plastic surgery for nearly a decade and there is no sign of the demand slowing down.

Many women want fuller lips, some motivated by the look of Hollywood stars like Angelina Jolie which is more of an extreme look. But women of all ages seek lips that are larger, even if it just a little bit more. They want to add volume to their lips or improve the shape of their lips so that they can have more of an attractive pout. There are numerous injectable fillers that can make an instantaneous change, albeit temporary, and even some more surgical procedures and implants that offer a permanent result.

But plastic surgery technology aside, why is it that women want fuller lips? What is the deep-seated reason for this facial enhancement? Men do not ask for it and I have never had a single male request compared to thousands of female lip enlargements performed.

Some, of course, would say that bigger lips are an enticement to be kissed and therefore makes one more attractive. Kissing in not an exact science, although there is some interesting factoids about it. When you give your loved one a smooch, the majority of people tilt their head to the right. It requires six major muscles around the mouth to pucker up for a kiss. Our pupils dilate while we kiss, which is why we often close our eyes. A good sloppy wet kiss can transfer up to 100 million bacteria (not very romantic, but scientific fact nonetheless).

There is no question that lips are an erogenous zone for women in both appearance and function. Anthropologists tell us that a woman’s lips are a visible expression of her fertility. Studies have shown that a woman’s facial and sexual attractiveness is closely linked to her hormonal makeup during puberty and development. A woman’s estrogen levels helps maintain a youthful facial appearance in which the lips are fuller. Full lips are therefore attractive to men because they serve as marker of a woman’s health and fertility. They certainly seem to make women feel more attractive and sexy.

With this understanding, putting injectable fillers into the lips (or the more common application of lipstick) takes advantage of this innate biology. Bigger lips ‘fool’ men into thinking that a woman has more estrogen than she actually has and thus is more fertile and attractive. I have always said men are easy creatures to motivate…and this is one time again we don’t mind being fooled. Pucker up !

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana