Facial appearance is unique amongst the topics discussed on this website in that it does not refer to any condition, or signs & symptoms of a disease requiring medical treatment. Instead, facial appearance reflects somebody’s individual and subjective wish to have their facial appearance changed for aesthetic reasons alone. In this sense, facial aesthetic surgery raises pertinent questions. The mere fact of somebody’s desire to seek invasive surgical interventions to achieve some (perceived) degree of aesthetic improvement of facial features (for example, ‘westernisation’ of Asian faces, or unwillingness to embrace any visible signs of ageing) sometimes does put a spotlight on our societal mechanisms and values.
The branch of surgery concerned with body appearance, aesthetic (or cosmetic) surgery, overlaps with maxillofacial surgery when dealing with aesthetic facial surgery. For example, scar revision or some corrections of traumatic defects such as torn earlobes sit somewhere between the two fields. There are further overlaps of aesthetic facial surgery with fringe areas of reconstructive oral and maxillofacial surgery where functional and aesthetic reconstruction of the mouth, jaws or face after trauma (by accident or treatment modalities) or as a consequence of disease are in the centre of attention. Surgical treatment of some of the many different aspects of congenital head and neck malformations, such as clefts of lip and palate, also straddle the two surgical specialties.
Commonly performed procedures in purely aesthetic facial surgery include
- rhytidectomy (face lift, of which there are many different varieties)
- blepharoplasty (addressing puffy or sagging upper and/or lower eyelids, related: brow lift)
- otoplasty (improving the appearance of prominent ears (‘bat ears’))
- rhinoplasty (a range of corrections to the nose)
- genioplasty (movement or reshaping of the chin).
Next section: Facial appearance