By Dr. Scott W. Mosser

Looking at my profession and the place it has taken in our society I often wonder “Where did the noble goals of pursuing beauty, aesthetics and balance go, and how is it that many patients have become fearful of plastic surgery?” In my mind, the answer comes in thinking about the early years of plastic surgery. For many years there has been a lack of understanding of the importance of both beauty and harmony when we think about our patients and their goals. In my opinion achieving proper aesthetics is impossible without understanding fully both concepts.

Beauty is one of those things that everyone understands, but few have really succeeded in defining. Research in plastic surgery, however, has of course produced calculations, proportions, angles and curves that define human beauty with mathematic precision. We know how to analyze an individual from head-to-toe, and if necessary I can easily determine how far any person falls away from having ideal, perfect proportions at any part of their body.

But how many people truly want to have ideal, perfect proportions, especially if this means looking like someone else? Well, perhaps some, but the real answer is: not many. The overwhelming majority of my patients simply want to live comfortably in their own skin. They want to use their appearance to communicate the energetic, charismatic and confident person that they are inside. Though all of those numbers, curves and proportions play a role in defining attractiveness and are incorporated into my techniques, what makes a person look charismatic and truly visually appealing is a concept that extends well beyond beauty. And that concept is harmony.

Harmony, in short, is balance. It’s another idea that we all understand and identify, but still have a hard time nailing down. In plastic surgery harmony has multiple forms, but most important are the concepts of harmony between 1) a patient and their goals, 2) their facial, breast and body anatomy and what is youthful or normal, and 3) the body part that is concerning the patient and the appropriate balance of nearby face and body characteristics.

If plastic surgery ignores these crucial areas (as it seems to have for years), then a patient could have a surgery that is technically successful but doesn’t look ‘quite right’ on that particular individual. We all know about patients or celebrities who have noses, brows, breasts and faces that stand out too much or even look frightening. If a body part sits poorly on the canvass of a body or the person inside, then it doesn’t contribute well to their looking or feeling comfortable. In this case, that sort of surgery is unsuccessful in my mind.

Just as we all know what harmony is, we also know what it isn’t. It’s those patients whose procedures didn’t respect normal anatomy, or didn’t take into account their goals or body, who end up looking unsettling and make us feel uncomfortable. This is entirely avoidable and always has been. Regrettably those unfortunate examples of the past have sewn the seeds of concern in our society about plastic surgery, and now I fear that the newer generation of plastic surgeons has years of work ahead of us to unravel this misconception.

Copyright © 2006 by Dr. Scott W. Mosser. This article may not be copied or reproduced in any form without the written permission of Dr. Scott Mosser. Internet links to the sub-page containing this article are permitted.