12 Pages

Introduction The Human Face as …

I am sitting in a train on the way to Sydney Dental Hospital where I teach periodontics, oral plastic surgery, and implantology to my senior registrars every Monday. The glossy magazine I flick through features twenty-five pages of ‘facial rejuvenation options’, as well as eight pages of ‘designer smiles’. One of the patients I will be seeing this morning will, almost certainly, have a copy of this latest issue of Australian Cosmetic Surgery Magazine with her, as she has done so each time I have seen her in the past. I intend to pre-empt her questions on this occasion-about what can be done to improve her looks. I turn to page eighty-nine. I see a female face of indeterminate age. She has a vertical line drawn through her hairline, running all the way down to the nape of her neck, effectively dividing her face in two. On one side of the line she has skin pigmentation, acne scarring, lines of expression, surface blood vessels, loose tissue folds at the angle of her jaw, and several other superficial blemishes. On the other side of the line she is free of imperfections, and looks several years younger. There is a similar ‘wrong/ right’ partitioning of the face on page twenty-six, and again on page ten. We are told on page eighty-one that the ‘new new face is someone who still looks like themselves but better … [with] an oval face … [and] the Universal Angle of Beauty … the jaw in relation to the vertical ramus of the nose … between 9 and 12 degrees’ (Australian Cosmetic Surgery Magazine 2008/2009: 81). I will show my patient that I can achieve similar results by editing the image of her face on a computer screen. To do so surgically, however, will be more of a challenge!