The latest plastic surgery fad in South Korea involves small incisions in the corners of the lips to raise both corners of the mouth, leaving the lips in a permanent smile. The popular surgery is, apparently, not only for debatable aesthetic improvements, but practical and helpful for one’s career, according to a defender of the procedure.
South Korea has come to be known as a country where visiting the plastic surgeon is as ordinary as visiting the spa. In Seoul, one in five women has had some type of procedure, according to a 2009 survey by Trend Monitor.
A disturbing thread on Reddit first drew Western attention to the procedure, termed a “Smile Lipt” because it applies a lift to lips. The photo posted by Reddit user anthissomesh*t showed a woman with very pronounced, Joker-like curls at the corners of her mouth, Business Insider reported.
The photo’s authenticity could not be verified, but the procedure is ideal for patients with sagging or asymmetric mouth corners or people who are not confident with their smiles, according to a promotional video from Aone Plastic Surgery. It's widely available in South Korea.
But the surgery is not just for the vain, according to Dr. Kwon Taek-keun, a plastic surgeon in practice for 20 years and owner of Aone. Many elect to have the surgery because they are concerned about facing criticism at work because of their expressionless miens, according to the Wall Street Journal.
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“Even when you are looking like your normal self, people keep asking you: ‘Why are you frowning?’” said Kwon. “That’s a lot of stress.”
Kwon, naturally, is an advocate of his procedure, saying it is “even for young people,” a sentiment that American plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Ritu Chopra does not share, according to Yahoo. Chopra said it is “completely inappropriate for an underage girl to get elective surgery.”
"There’s a major difference between surgery in Asia and the U.S," Chopra said. In Asia, especially South Korea, cosmetic surgery does not bear the stigma ascribed to those who go under the knife in the West. Instead, surgical enhancement is often proudly showed off like a badge of honor.
In the United States, procedures done to alleviate sagging areas around the mouth would involve injecting fillers to push the muscles out. Doctors would try to give their clients a natural look, instead of the procedure the Korean girl in the Reddit photo underwent, which Chopra thinks looks “totally freakish, like a joker,” according to Yahoo.
Watch the promotional video from Aone below.