Welcome to the "Tooth Show": Inside the Age-Defying Lip Fix Inspired by Social Media

Angelina Jolie-Jane Fonda-Getty-Split-H 2019
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images; Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images

A lift procedure that "turns the lip up and out" is now being favored over injections, which make mouths "look like sausages."

Blanketing Instagram is the pout of the moment: an ample, upturned mouth revealing front teeth. It's a look that has generated a new trend in plastic surgery: the lip lift. "Social media is driving a lot of esthetic choices," says Andrew Jacono, a Park Avenue plastic surgeon, but "the voluptuous lip is not something you can get with injections. Filling lips just makes them look like sausages but doesn't change their shape. A lift turns the lip up and out." The 30-minute office procedure excises tissue from just below the nose to shorten the distance between nose and mouth, causing the top lip to curl up a bit, exposing more teeth, or "tooth show." In young patients, it gives the perfect selfie pout; in older candidates, it makes them appear more youthful ($3,000-$10,000).

As upper lips age, they become elongated and hide teeth, while lower lips drop and expose bottom teeth. Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Randal Haworth says lips, like breasts, go south over time. "When Angelina [Jolie] was 19, she had an insouciant mouth and you could see her upper teeth," he says. "Now her lip is starting to hide her teeth. It's the same with Jane Fonda." Jacono adds that face-lifts raise the corners of the mouth but don't address the issue: "Shortening the upper lip is one of the most powerful esthetic procedures I do."

Some surgeons are working with dentists to coordinate the amount of tooth show. "Showing 2 millimeters of tooth while your mouth is at rest is ideal," says Manhattan esthetic dentist Lana Rozenberg, who says patients once requested bulkier veneers to push out the lip for pout. Now the Bugs Bunny look is no longer necessary, with surgeons like NYC's Oren Tepper teaming up with esthetic dentist Jonathan Levine to open LipSync. "Ten years ago, there was an 'aha' moment when hands were an age giveaway. Now we realize the mouth is even more telling," says Tepper.

There is one downside to a lip lift; it leaves a scar. "You can hide some of the incision inside the nostrils, but there is always some visibility at the edge of the nose," says Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Leif Rogers, who is very selective about patients for the procedure yet is still seeing a 300 percent increase over 2018. "If not done properly, it can distort the appearance of the nostrils."

This story first appeared in the May 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.