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September 2003

Human Facial Beauty: Current Theories and Methodologies

Author Affiliations

Copyright 2003 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2003

Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2003;5(5):371-377. doi:10.1001/archfaci.5.5.371

This article examines current theories of beauty and describes recent progress in the ability to generate photorealistic faces using a computer. First, we describe a novel experimental tool, FacePrints, that allows a user to "evolve" an attractive face using a computer. We discuss the use of this program for research on human beauty and review the main experimental studies that have led to our current theoretical perspective: beauty is a product of sexual selection. Second, we outline major improvements to the FacePrints program and demonstrate the near photographic quality of facial composites that can be obtained by combining the FacePrints algorithm with a principal components analysis–based facial appearance model. The technical basis for a possible computer-planning system that could help the patient and surgeon define reasonable and desirable surgical outcomes is also outlined. Finally, we summarize the current state of the art and examine the issues that need to be addressed for developing the current program into a practical experimental and/or clinical tool.