I learned a valuable lesson this week about consistency and harmony which has relevant application to plastic surgery.

Browsing through a furniture store on a spare sunday afternoon, I spotted in the distant corner of the store a beautiful console unit (table with drawers that’s usually placed behind a sofa). Instantly, a broad beam of light from heaven shone upon it, and I took steps toward having a closer look. It was beautiful. Retro-styled, simple, elegant, and made of luscious and distinctive wood. And yes, it was ON SALE! So I bought it. (Talk about impulse!)

However, upon bringing it home, settling it behind the sofa, and taking a step back to soak in this new delight, my excitement quickly turned into bewilderment. The more I looked at the console from all angles, the more I slowly surrendered to the fact that I had made the wrong decision in acquiring it. On it’s own it was beautiful. A timeless classic. However, within the setting of the living room occupied with existing furniture, it just did not “fit”. Too dark. Too obvious. Too wrong. It didn’t belong there.

The same issue can arise in cosmetic plastic surgery. We may see a nose, an eye, a breast, or a body that captures our eye and our imagination. Perhaps in a magazine or featured on our favourite TV celebrity or pop star. We enjoy marvelling at that particular physical attribute. If we are unhappy with our own physical appearance, it can be particularly easy to desire what we consider to be ideal or perfect.

The ideal, however, may not be perfect for YOU. In fact, it could make you look un-balanced, out of place, not right. We have to base our desired outcome from plastic surgery on a number of factors. Our ethnicity is one of them. A caucasian-type nose will not look right on an asian, and it will definitely be out of place on a negroid person. We have to confine our desires to within the range that is still considered normal for our ethnicity.

The other critical factor to consider is facial balance. Just like my recently acquired console that looked out of place amongst the existing furniture, displeasure with facial and body appearance often comes as a result of imbalance. Based upon this philosophy then, pleasing aesthetics can often be attained even when the individual parts are in themselves not perfect, but are ideally proportioned.

The next time you look at a beautiful person’s face or body, try to ignore the individual parts that might seem beautiful on their own, and instead have a look at their overall proportions and balance. A few factors that you may like to ponder include the balance between the upper, middle, and lower thirds of the face, eye width vs nose width, nose projection vs chin projection, and breast, waist, and hip proportions. More often than not, a beautiful face or body is likely to be evenly and pleasingly balanced.

Coming back to the console that I bought. I allowed it a week to see if my eyes could adjust to it. Alas, it was not meant to be. So back to the store it was returned. On this occasion, I was fortunate to be able to reverse my decision. In surgery however, this liberty may not always be granted to us. We may not have the freedom to change our minds after a procedure has been performed, as surgery often cannot be easily or completely reversed.

To avoid making the wrong decision with cosmetic plastic surgery, a thorough assessment of the patient as a whole is required prior to surgery. One needs to consider not only the individual physical trait that the patient is unhappy with, but it needs to be compared with the rest of the patient’s face or body. Careful thought is then given to devising a surgical approach that will achieve a result that balances both beautification of the area of the patient’s concern and improving overall harmony.