It’s subliminal, but it does not go unnoticed.
I have been seeing more patients of late, who are unhappy with how they look, but yet cannot pinpoint what the problem is exactly. ‘Doctor! My smile is crooked!’ ‘I don’t know why, but I only take photos on my left side!’
And on examination, I often discover that the cause of these vague complaints is a mild asymmetry in some part of the face that can only be detected by a trained eye.
What’s really interesting is that although my patients were unable to diagnose that there was some facial asymmetry, the problem bothered them enough to come for a consult, proving how ingrained it is in our subconscious symmetry is beauty.
What makes perfect symmetry so desirable?
Although often overlooked, symmetry has long been one of the traits associated with beauty, health, youth, and physical attractiveness.
The reason is very primal.
Facial Symmetry is, put simply, an advert we can wear on our faces to tell the opposite sex that we are free from disease and worthy to pro-create with!
Facial asymmetries begin to appear early in embryonic development, mainly the first trimester of pregnancy. This is the time when the both sides of the face come together in the embryo. Instability during this crucial growth period results in asymmetry.
And asymmetries do not stop developing there. Through our lifespan, due to external stresses, asymmetry can again occur. The more symmetrical we are, the better our bodies are able to cope with these stresses.
And thus symmetry is an evolutionary advantage. We have been tuned to favour symmetry, as we perceive those to possess symmetry in their features to possess good genes and thus make good mates.
Visual studies manipulating human faces have unanimously found that we find a perfectly symmetrical face more appealing. Interestingly, actress Cate Blanchett has been found to have one of the highest ratings of symmetry amongst movie stars.
Fill, Relax, and Cut
In my practice, I often use Fillers to correct minor facial asymmetries. Fillers can do wonders by subtly increasing the size of the smaller cheekbone, propping up one corner of the mouth, filling up the hollow on one side of the face, etc etc.
Botox is another helpful tool I commonly use. Botox allows us to manipulate the height of the eyebrows to fix unequal eyebrows; or correct jaw shape asymmetries by reducing the size of the masseter muscle on the bigger side.
Of course, injections can sometimes only do so much. For more severe problems, I will need to approach my Plastic Surgery colleagues for help.
It’s a complex task, as facial asymmetries are often subtle. Hence, it is important to go to a Doctor you trust, and have him or her explain what he/she is going to do thoroughly before you decide on your treatment.