Los Angeles, city made of hopes and dreams. When we first get out of the U-haul and stretch under the cool, Southern California night, we feel the sky’s the limit. No star is beyond our grasp — whatever it takes. We tackle challenges with unmatched impertinence and naivete. Our greatest nemesis is gravity, that odious natural phenomenon that seeks to pull us down back to the earth from which we sprung. Our weapons are yoga, pilates, dermal-fillers and scalpels. We take it so seriously that it’s easier to find a plastic surgeon in L.A. than it is to find a doctor for those other maladies that afflict the rest of humanity.
But L.A. County is not, by a long-shot, the capital of cosmetic modification. That title goes to Seoul and surrounding Gyeonggi province, which has for years been modifying its denizens with dimples, eyelids, realigned jaws, and now, smiles.
The face is one of the first things cosmetic surgery modifies in its battle against gravity. As a person ages, the skin of the face begins to sag, which also leads to creasing, most notably around the mouth (called “marionette lines”), and jowling (a drooping jawline). The marionette lines can be addressed with dermal-filler injections, or a lower facelift, or both — sometimes even a necklift. Occasionally, gravity brings with it the mouth, creating the suggestion of a frown, so anguloplasty is performed to give the corners of the mouth a lift to return them to a neutral position.
In Korea, however, doctors at Aone Plastic Surgery don’t just want to neutralize the frown, they want to create a permanent illusion of a smile. According to the Atlantic, Aone recently patented a new procedure that deviates from the traditional heart-shaped (or “Valentine”) incision, and creates more upturned corners. They’re calling this $2,000 procedure a Smile Lipt — “lipt” being an awkward portmanteau of lip and lift.
The procedure has become popular with people in customer service careers who can use all the help they can get keeping a smile on their faces when dealing with wave after wave of issues. And that’s great. Power to the people. Modify as you wish.
I can’t decide whether a perma-smile would help defuse arguments with lovers or just add a sadistic edge to the exchange, though. This may be a sign we’ve gone too far.
Header image by Tracheotomy Bob.