The presence of a discernible chin has always been an important aesthetic feature of the lower face in both men and women. While the desired amount of projection will vary between the genders, it is clear that having some chin projection is better than having little or none.
While the chin has always been perceived as an important facial feature, the perception of the entire jawline has taken on greater aesthetic significance today. This means the shape and projection of the back part of the jaw, known as the mandibular ramus or jaw angle, also gives the lower face a fuller and more pleasing appearance. Just like the chin that projects the front part of the lower face, the jaw angles project the back part of the lower face.
While stronger jaw angles have been historically associated with men, it also equally applies to women today as well. This can be seen in many well known female celebrities such as Angela Jolie, Olivia Wilde and Hiliary Swank, to name just a few. They all have a distinct and well defined jawline because they have a vertically long and almost squared shaped jaw angle. It does not necessarily have to be very wide but it is its vertical length and defined posterior and inferior ramus outlines of the bone that give a ‘cut look’ to the jawline. In essence it makes the jaw stand out distinctly from the neck below it.
A strong and defined jaw angle is associated with a low mandibular plane angle. The mandibular plane angle is a measurement introduced in orthodontics many decades ago to assess the steepness of the jaw in relation to the base of the skull. (normal is around 30 degrees) It is the anterior angle formed by the intersection of the Frankfort horizontal plane and a tangent to the lower border of the jawline. (in orthodontics it is the angle formed by the intersection of SN and GoGn) The Frankfort-mandibular plane angle is affected by the vertical development and length of the mandibular ramus.
The high and indistinct jaw angle can be treated by a vertical lengthening jaw angle implant. This is a special jaw angle implant that drops down the jaw angle by the lengthening provided by the implant. Most women need the vertical jaw angle implant as opposed to the more traditional widening jaw angle implant. While the implant does not look very big, it is surprising how powerful an effect it can have on the shape of the lower face.
Dr. Barry Eppley