Can Facial Implants Do A Good Job Of Correcting Facial Asymmetry?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I am interested in implants to correct my jaw asymmetry. My jaw angles are very asymmetric and I feel I would be more attractive if my facial asymmetry was corrected. I have always been curious about art with respect to beauty.  What is beauty?  I’ve concluded that beauty is not only in the eye of the beholder but also in the symmetry of the viewed.  When you see a symmetric butterfly, it looks beautiful.  When you see the symmetry of a supermodel, it is beauty.  So this is something that I have become aware of over the years… and others have as well.  In fact, there is now an iPhone app that can rate your attractiveness by measuring your symmetry…  and guess what actor ranks the highest…  It’s Brad Pitt.  His left side of his face is exactly like his right side.

I have read your comment about not being able to reach a perfect match on anyone’s facial asymmetry, but instead improving on it.  I like that realistic goal.  I personally would be highly satisfied if I used a string that was measured and cut to reach from the corner of my left outer eye to the corner of my left corner back jaw (mandibular ramus) and have that string reach the same distance on the right side of my face as well.  It currently does not match.  But if it did, I would be a happy man.  And I also understand that even if I had this result, the symmetry would not be perfect since the position of the corner jaws may be different in the 3-D x-y-z coordinate system.

A: While I have found that perfect symmetry can be difficult to achieve in facial surgery, that does not mean it is not the goal. There are different methods in trying to achieve that symmetry regardless of the location of the implants. Traditional, and still the most commonly done, method of facial implant surgery is to pick out the implants based on a more or less artistic assessment of the patient’s needs. There is no precise method of matching the implants to the underlying bone shape or knowing exactly what the outward changes will be. As unscientific as that is, it works most of the time when the patient’s facial bones are symmetric and the patient isn’t overly detailed or looking for perfection. When it comes to improving facial asymmetry, however, it is easy to see how an unexact science applied to a variable problem is prone to some degree of a persistent level of asymmetry.

To counter these issues, an ideal approach is to make custom implants off of a 3-D model. When this is economically feasible, it is easy to see why this is better than ‘eyeballing’ it.  

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana