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Section: Overview

Proportion, Harmony, and Balance

Harmony and balance are Zen-inspired "Asian" terms that appear almost too frequently in reference to Asian plastic surgery operations. Proper proportion is, of course, an important consideration in all cosmetic operations but especially in facial profile and contouring surgery. Symmetry, a major component of "balance," is equally critical to one's appearance.

The concept of delicacy, on the other hand, seems over-rated. While "delicate" may sound preferable to "coarse," there is nothing balanced about creating a delicate nose on an attractive square-shaped face with a wider than average skull base.

In other words, some plastic surgery that sounds good in isolation may not really be appropriate when considered in the full scheme of one's starting facial anatomy.

Basic Asian Facial Shapes: The six basic facial shapes commonly noted in the Asian population include, square, rectangular, round, oval, base-down triangular, and diamond. Each is beautiful in its own way.

Trying to move yourself from one shape to another, however, can entail major amounts of serious surgery with little chance of looking natural once finished.

If, on the other hand, one or two features (for instance, nose and chin) seem mismatched to the rest of the underlying basic structure, cosmetic surgery to better proportion these features may achieve a very nice improvement.

It is wise to be wary of statements proclaiming the existence of universal "ideals" of beauty, as, for instance, those portrayed in the following diagram that is widely referenced in plastic surgery. Such broad generalizations are naive, chauvinistic, and sometimes predatory. There is no quantitative formula that can ever measure what is beautiful because beauty is peronally subjective, culturally-variable, and ever-changing.

The Ideal Face: Chinese painters have traditionally employed a standard grid to portray both "ideal" Asian and Occidental faces.

facial proportion

Horizontally, the face is divided into equal fifths: (1) distance from the ear canal to the edge of one eye, (2) width of the first eye, (3) space between the two eyes, (4) width of the second eye, and (5) distance from the edge of the second eyes to the second ear.

Vertically, the face is divided into equal thirds: (1) distance from the hairline to the brow, (2) distance from the brow to the base of the nose, and (3) distance from the base of the nose to the bottom of the chin.

Large deviations from this 5 by 3 grid may be noticeable, but moderate variations are more common than not. Exact "ideal" proportions are only typical of department store manikins made of plastic and plaster and not real people made from flesh and blood.

In the end, creating beauty is not at all formulaic, and so elective alterations to natural structure should be undertaken only after thoughtful analysis and under the guidance of a true expert surgeon.

Just remember that a perfectly snapped-together puzzle can't begin to compete with any number of very different but tastefully glorious flower arrangements.

Next: Patient Motivation,
Preferences, and Goals

More on Asian Plastic Sugery Overview >

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Frank Meronk, Jr., M.D.
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Note: Information, observations, and opinions are offered for general reference only and should not be taken as medical advice or diagnosis.

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