Turning That Frown Upside Down, With A Scalpel

by Patrick Appel

Gwynn Guilford reports on the latest development in South Korean plastic surgery:

Smile Plastic Surgery

[A] new technique called “Smile Lipt” carves a permanent smile into an otherwise angry face. The procedure, whose name combines “lip” with “lift”—get it?—turns up the corners of the mouth using a technique that’s a milder version of what Scottish hoodlums might call the “Glasgow grin.”

… The procedure is, as KRT reports, increasingly popular among men and women in their 20s and 30s—especially flight attendants, consultants and others in industries aiming to offer service with a smile.

She speculates that, “as with the popularity of other cosmetic procedures in South Korea, which have made it hard for the natural of face to compete for jobs, permanent smiles may too become the norm.” Jonathan Coppage worries about the mainstreaming of this procedure:

If one stays agnostic on the medical ethics of cosmetic surgery, the procedures become a matter of free choice and open markets, where patients and doctors have the freedom to arrange an operation, as long as there is no coercion. But the South Korean example is a very effective demonstration of the ultimate limits of a libertarian paradigm revolving around atomistic free actors. Individuals “with photos of starlets whose face they want to copy,” aggregate to create new norms, because they are part of a social order. And social order inescapably comes with the soft coercive power of conformity.

(Photo: Before lipt surgery on top; after surgery on the bottom)