The search for what makes a face beautiful or attractive goes back hundreds if not thousands of years. Long before the possibilities of plastic surgery were even remotely envisioned, painters and sculptors used mathematical numbers and rations to create their works. Numerous contemporary studies have both qualified and quantified ‘beauty’ and have been able to apply some basic principles to it. (e.g., symmetry)
But the most appealing numerical approach to beauty in the face and body as well as nature is that of the Golden Ratio. Much has been written to seemingly verify its use to show that its ration (1.618) represents the perfect shape from just about anything from natural to man made objects including the human body.
The Golden Ratio, represented by the Greek letter phi (?), is the relationship between two sides of a rectangle (1.61803) where the ratio of the larger side to the smaller side is equal to the ratio of both sides to the larger side. In mathematics, the Golden Ration occurs in the well known Fibonacci sequence where each subsequent number is the sum of the two previous ones. (:1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89 etc) If you divide each number besides the first one) by the previous number it is surprisingly close to 1.618 or the Golden Ratio.
But is the Golden Ratio useful in helping the plastic surgeon create a more beautiful face? Studies have shown that there are aesthetic correlations with many facial features relating to each other through this relationship. (e.g., the ratio of the length of a person’s face to its width is 1.6) It does seem to be a number that when assessing faces defies historical, racial and cultural differences.
However, a plastic surgeon’s ability to change one’s facial features is based on a knowledge of anatomy, surgical techniques and the desired end goal. While being an artist does not make one a good plastic surgeon (contrary to popular perception), there is a role for understanding aesthetic proportions and relationships.The Golden Ratio is as good a guideline as any other one might use.
Dr. Barry Eppley