Will My Face Look Like I Have Had Plastic Surgery?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I am going to undergo a variety of plastic surgery procedures on my face in the next few months but I have one big concern. I fear that everyone will know that I had surgery and I will have an obvious look that I have had plastic surgery. While I see the benefits of these procedures I certainly don’t want to broadcast to everyone that I actually had them. I know that seems a bit contradictory (wanting surgery but not to look like I have) but it is just how I feel.

A: The emotion you are describing is incredibly common amongst many patients undergoing a wide variety of surgical facial changes. Very few patients come in and say they want to look ‘done’ or do not care what their social circle of family and friends think. While how significant these facial changes will be is dependent on the exact type and number of procedures done, here is what I tell my patients about this very concern beyond the recovery period.

People know other people’s face in a gestalt or overall appearance, they usually do not recognize the specific details of what makes up a face unless it is a very outstanding feature like a large nose or very short or large jaw. Witness the classic example of a man who removes a long standing mustache and people know something is different but are not sure exactly what. Thus people do perceive a difference in a face, a more pleasing proportion to it, but would be hard pressed in most cases of surgical alteration to ever know what was done exactly…and may not even recognize that it was surgery. ‘You look more refreshed…have you been on vacation…have you lost weight’ are common reactions and thoughts to many after surgery facial changes.

In addition, the general public does not even know that many facial plastic surgery procedures even exist. (e.g., jaw angle implants or chin reduction). People can only recognize plastic surgery procedures that they know. Therefore in many cases of well done (not overdone) plastic surgery, the facial changes are not often appreciated although the overall facial enhancement effect is.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana