This Invited Commentary addresses the psychosocial effects that facial plastic surgery have on the perception of observers.
A guiding force behind what I do as a facial plastic surgeon is to achieve a better “blink,” as espoused by Gladwell1; that is, to help make an individual be perceived instantaneously as more attractive to an onlooker. These perceptual cues, triggered in the right brain of the viewer, render an immediate judgment about the person being observed before the cues enter the observer’s conscious awareness. I judge my work the moment I walk through the door to greet my patient to see if I think the person looks better to me. If not, I try to figure out why I have failed to achieve an improved countenance by enlisting my analytical left brain to decipher the puzzle at hand. I emphasize to my patients that my goal for them is to look better because quality facial work should favorably affect their social and professional standing. This goal stands in contrast to the requests that many patients make for me to change aspects of their faces that I do not believe would have merit in improving their “blink,” such as fine lip lines that are unobservable to a bystander at a casual distance. Accordingly, I believe it is important to be artistic and to help patients try to look better not only to themselves but also, even more important (in my opinion), to others.
Samuel M. Lam. The Perception of Beauty After Facial Plastic Surgery. JAMA Facial Plast Surg. 2015;17(3):208. doi:10.1001/jamafacial.2015.0168