In the age of beauty filters and social media, more people are turning to aesthetic procedures to achieve their ideal look. However, a smaller nose on your favourite supermodel or a clean, pronounced jawline of a K-pop star may not be suitable for you.
"I have patients who bring in pictures of their favourite celebrity, wanting to achieve a sharp and contoured nose like Bella Hadid, or show me filtered versions of themselves and ask how to achieve the look," says Dr Wilson Ho, medical director of ICON Medical Aesthetic Clinic. "But what works for someone else may not work for you."
With 10 years of aesthetic medicine experience and a keen knowledge of facial anatomy, Dr Wilson concludes that a person's facial beauty is, instead, determined by having "facial harmony" or a well-balanced facial profile. This can be achieved through a synergistic three-step approach - Contour, Proportion and Refinement (CPR).
"While people often think that medical aesthetic treatments are only performed to reduce the signs of ageing, that's not always the case. Some people seek out treatments to increase facial harmony and feel better about the way they look," he says.
As beauty and attractiveness is largely subjective, Dr Wilson emphasises that this unique CPR facial harmonisation approach is not a "one-size-fits-all" means of attaining that sought-after symmetrical face.
"Instead, it is to enhance a patient's existing natural beauty as well as soften or cover up any aspects that might be considered unattractive, rather than simply giving them a higher nose bridge or sharper chin that may not suit them", Dr Wilson explains. "In fact, a slight asymmetry provides a more natural perception of the face, and under no circumstances should such a minor asymmetry be considered unattractive."
Three-step approach to finding harmony
Dr Wilson will first evaluate the face and identify areas to contour or lift, in order to achieve the "ideal facial dimensions" for the individual. Common problem areas include:
- A weak or receding chin
- A weak or irregular jawline
- Mid- and upper-cheek depressions
- Sagginess, especially at the jowl area due to marionette folds (lines between the mouth and chin) and nasolabial folds (lines between edge of the nose to the mouth) caused by ageing.
Realistic treatment goals are then discussed and agreed upon. "I would come up with a comprehensive three-step treatment plan to first contour the face, adjust the facial proportion and, lastly, perform treatments to refine facial features," he explains. "Commonly used treatments to help achieve unique facial harmony include thread lifts, dermal fillers and a preventive dose of botulinum toxin injections."
Step 1: Contour
Contouring the face involves thread lifting, a minimally-invasive procedure which helps lift sagging facial tissues without surgery. Made with medical-grade materials such as PDO (polydioxanone) and PCL (polycaprolactone), the threads are carefully inserted into the skin to provide a support structure that lifts sagging skin and smoothen the nasolabial and marionette folds, Dr Wilson explains.
They also work to stimulate collagen production from within, as they slowly dissolve and are absorbed by the body over time. Thread lifts are performed under local anaesthesia or with the aid of numbing cream and results can last from six months to two years.
Step 2: Proportion
Dr Wilson explains that the amount of collagen in the body depletes as we age, leading to hollow areas in the face that appear as depressions or wrinkles. To restore this lost volume, he recommends dermal fillers, gel-based injectables containing a naturally-occurring substance in the body which he says helps minimise the risk of allergic reactions.
Two types of dermal fillers are used to correct different parts of the face, typically administered over the course of a few months. "For instance, a mid-density hyaluronic acid (HA) filler helps plump up sunken cheeks, reduce the appearance of lines and folds and boost the forehead," says Dr Wilson, "While a high-density HA filler provides structure and support to softer tissues in the mid-cheek, upper cheek, temples, jawlines and chin, subtly enhancing one's look."
"For patients with broader jaws due to larger muscle bulk, a botulinum toxin will be injected into the masseter muscles to soften the jaw angles," he adds.
Step 3: Refinement
After contouring and proportioning the face, refinement work may be needed to fine-tune other areas such as the nose and lips, says Dr Wilson. "Monofilament threads may be used to tighten loose skin under the eyes and neck, or to lift the nose for a sharper, more defined tip."
At this stage, low-density HA dermal fillers may also be used to soften and refine areas like tear trough weakness, enhance the lips and reduce the appearance of mouth lines, while botulinum toxin may be used to ease unwanted frown lines and crow's feet.
Other treatment interventions include skin boosters, microneedling or laser treatments to improve acne, lighten dark eye circles or reduce the appearance of scars and enlarged pores.
"Everyone is made to be unique, and sometimes a simple procedure can really help to elevate that unique look rather than changing one's entire look through plastic surgery," Dr Wilson says. "This is what facial harmonisation is about - to help patients feel more confident about themselves."
For more information, visit https://www.iconmedicalaesthetics.com.sg/