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Beauty and Plastic Surgery: Is There a ‘Golden Mask’ of Facial Proportions?

Beauty and Plastic Surgery: Is There a ‘Golden Mask’ of Facial Proportions?

As a plastic surgeon serving the San Francisco Bay Area, Dr. Stanley Jacobs recalled once meeting a PhD—though not a surgeon—whose job was “anthropometrics.” That’s the study of the measurements and proportions of the human body. Many who focus on anthropometrics seek the answer to the question of whether there are numbers that explain the distances and ratios that make one person’s face more attractive than another’s.

This doctor had gathered a group of models and taken their photographs, later scoring the photos and labeling each one as “very attractive” or simply “attractive.” He then measured a variety of the models’ facial proportions, including lip to nose height, width of cheekbones, forehead height, and more.

“He found some consistent measurements that were more common in the ‘very attractive’ group,” Dr. Jacobs explained.

This finding—and others like it over the years, before and after—contributes to the theory that there is a “golden mask” of ideal proportions for the human face. Think of why some portraits seem classically beautiful, from paintings to statuettes, as with the ancient bust of Nefertiti.

“I actually think that it’s not a perfect proportion of one mask,” Dr. Jacobs countered. “I think that if somebody has too big a chin, too small a chin, the plastic surgeon’s job is to take what art form they know and put it into the proportions of that person’s face.”

In other words, each individual’s proportions will be their own. Their unique features can be brought in line with their personal proportions to create a more aesthetically pleasing balance.

“We certainly don’t want people coming in and saying, ‘I want that person’s face,’” Dr. Jacobs pointed out.

To that end, Dr. Jacobs regularly makes masks of his patients’ faces, which he then scrutinizes from every angle.

“I really study those masks,” he said. “Not just photographs.”

The reason is because a mask reveals proportions in three dimensions. When you turn them in your hand, you can see angles and get a sense of the person’s facial proportions and balance.

Will the end result stand in a museum? Probably not, but most people aren’t looking to be immortalized in stone—they just want to look their own personal best.

For more information about Dr. Stanley Jacobs’ work in San Francisco with plastic surgery and nonsurgical treatments, visit www.drstanleyjacobs.com or call his Healdsburg office at (707) 473-0220 or his San Francisco office at (415) 433-0303.