The chin creates the dominant effect on the appearance of the lower face. Thus, it has a major effect on facial balance and appearance. When out of proportion to the rest of the face, it can create a perception that other facial features are the culprit when it is really at fault. Understanding the proper relationship of chin shape and projection helps one plan for the right procedure when attempting to improve one’s facial appearance.
The most aesthetically pleasing chin is almost always simplistically perceived as falling on a vertical line that drops down from the nasion or junction of the nose and forehead. While this measure of chin position does have considerable value, today’s understanding of chin aesthetics is far more complex and truly three-dimensional. The ideal chin should have an oval shape in women and a more square shape in men. The upper part of the chin has a concave form that curves outward into a convexity (representing the thicker soft tissues of the chin pad) before it turns inward again at its lower edge.
The horizontal position of the chin should lie directly under where the lower lip pouts outward. With adequate projection, it can make the nose look smaller which is why it is frequently augmented in a reductive rhinoplasty. When a chin is weak or horizontally short, it can make other facial features look bigger, often creating a wider or more square facial shape. When the chin is too big or horizontally forward, the rest of the face can look recessed or more flat.
The frontal shape of the chin is very gender-specific. Women should have a more angular or narrow chin but not too pointy. (or too narrow) The greatest width of the chin should lie well within vertical lines drawn down from the canines or eye teeth. Men should have a wider or more square chin whose width can be out to vertical lines dropped down from the corners of the mouth. In the frontal view, the length of the chin is another important aesthetic element. To be in proper facial balance, the height of the lower face is always stated as being no greater than 1/3 of the total height of the face. But the lower 1//3 of the face is comprised of by more than the chin proper. By this standard, the height of the chin proper should constitute no more than ½ of the lower third facial height.
The appearance of the chin is also affected by the rest of the jawline and neck. Jowls or too much fat and hanging skin along the jawline makes the face look more square which is not the fault of the bony chin. It also makes the jawline heavy and can even create the illusion that one is overweight. This is particularly true when there is submental or neck fullness as well. The back part of the jawline or jaw angles impacts how the chin looks from the frontal view. Wide flaring jaw angles can make the chin look too narrow whereas diminuitive or non-flared jaw angles can make the chin look wide.
When considering any facial surgery, it is important to consider the aesthetics of the chin and how it impacts or is affected itself by the rest of the facial features. Chin surgery can have a major impact on improving facial balance.
Dr. Barry Eppley