In an evolving world where perceptions of attractiveness and trustworthiness can profoundly impact personal and professional relationships, the appeal of facial plastic surgery is increasingly recognised. A ground-breaking study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Facial Plastic Surgery has shed light on this phenomenon, specifically focusing on men. This research, the first of its kind, reveals that men opting for facial cosmetic surgery significantly boost perceptions of their attractiveness, likeability, social skills, and trustworthiness.
Changing attitudes towards facial aesthetics
Over recent years, men’s attitudes towards maintaining their appearance have undergone a significant shift. Historically, such concerns were viewed as bordering on narcissism. However, the modern man now perceives these efforts as part of a broader spectrum of personal well-being. This shift in societal attitudes has led to men constituting 15-20% of the cosmetic surgery market. This movement towards aesthetics training and improvement is a testament to the evolving perspective on self-care among men.
The study: Method and execution
The novel study involved 24 men who opted for various facial cosmetic procedures performed by expert surgeons at Georgetown University Medical Center. These procedures included an upper eyelid lift (upper blepharoplasty), reduction of lower eyelids (lower blepharoplasty), face-lift, brow-lift, neck-lift, nose reshaping (rhinoplasty), and/or a chin implant.
In an innovative approach, the research team constructed a sophisticated multivariate linear mixed model. This model allowed the researchers to analyse participants’ reactions to specific surgical procedures while controlling for changes brought about by additional procedures performed on other areas of the face.
The impact of different facial procedures
The study’s findings revealed fascinating insights into the effects of different procedures on perceived attractiveness, masculinity, and personality traits. Interestingly, chin augmentation was the only procedure that did not impact these perceptions, likely due to the low number of patients who underwent this procedure.
In contrast, other procedures had more pronounced effects. For instance, upper eyelid surgery increased perceptions of likeability and trustworthiness, while a brow-lift improved perceptions of extroversion and risk-taking. Similarly, a face-lift enhanced likeability and trustworthiness, whereas a neck-lift increased perceived extroversion and masculinity. Nose reshaping, or rhinoplasty, notably improved attractiveness.
The perception of masculinity and the gender divide
One notable finding was the lack of significant impact on perceptions of masculinity, except for the neck-lift procedure. This discovery suggests that current cosmetic procedures for men may not enhance perceived gender traits as much as they do for women. In contrast, a similar study involving women found a significant increase in perceptions of femininity for many of the same cosmetic procedures.
This pioneering study underscores the complex interplay between facial aesthetics and societal perceptions. While the quest for physical attractiveness might be a significant motivator for men seeking facial plastic surgery, the benefits extend beyond surface-level enhancements. Indeed, the improved perceptions of likeability, social skills, and trustworthiness are critical factors that can enhance one’s personal and professional relationships, further emphasising the importance of aesthetics training in the context of facial plastic surgery.
While surgical procedures continue to play a significant role in enhancing facial aesthetics, it’s important to acknowledge the rise of non-surgical, noninvasive, or injectable procedures such as Botox, fillers, and laser treatments. These minimally invasive options, often requiring less recovery time, carry lower risks and costs, making them increasingly popular among men aiming to maintain their youthful appearance. Further, noninvasive procedures offer the opportunity for subtle adjustments and regular maintenance rather than dramatic one-time changes, allowing for a more personalised approach to aesthetics training.
Ultimately, further research is necessary to optimise patient outcomes and provide a broader understanding of the potential changes in societal perception that can occur following these procedures.
Parsa, K. M., Gao, W., Lally, J., Davison, S. P., & Reilly, M. J. (2019). Evaluation of personality perception in men before and after facial cosmetic surgery. JAMA facial plastic surgery. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamafacial.2019.0463