Facial plast Surg 2006; 22(3): 188-193
DOI: 10.1055/s-2006-950176
Copyright © 2006 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc., 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Changing Perceptions of Beauty: A Surgeon's Perspective

Peter A. Adamson1 , 2 , Matthew B. Zavod1
  • 1Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Toronto General Hospital-University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
26 September 2006 (online)


Beauty is a mystery that has been with us for ages. Scholars and scientists have investigated its roots and effects, and its presence is ubiquitous. Has the construct of beauty changed over time? Is our sense of beauty learned or innate? What is beauty, and can we quantify it? A substantial amount of work supports a Darwinian theory of selection, which predicts a survival advantage based on physical attractiveness. However, there is evidence that certain perceptions of beauty change with time. Indeed, the recent globalization of modern society has wrought changes in our perceptions of beauty. Are patients electing cosmetic surgery procuring a survival advantage, or are they bypassing genetics and setting a new standard for beauty? As facial plastic surgeons, we must be poised to respond to this metamorphosis and understand its roots. Although there is some equivocation and debate about this elusive subject, it is our duty to stay abreast of the current dynamic to make sound judgments that are in the best interests of our patients.