NEW YORK — Face it. The look has changed.
From the taut, wide-eyed visage of the '60s--the one that graced magazine covers, the one with the upturned nose and the just-slightly startled expression--the face of the '80s has evolved into a more individualized countenance: a face that is less artificial, less preordained or prestructured and certainly more personalized, more distinctive and more assertive.
Meeting here recently to consider the changes in their specialty, a panel of the 2,400-member American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery outlined a surgically renovated face of the '80s that may well feature:
--A stronger nose with broader tip.
--Narrower eyelids, probably including a "more athletic" upper eyelid.
--A strong, possibly clefted chin, compliments of improved, new artificial implant materials and techniques.
--More firmly defined cheekbones, also a new development in implants.
--Hair lines that appear fuller and far more natural, unlike the row-of-corn tufting that often resulted from transplants of the past.
--Foreheads without the fret lines, mouths without the deep-set laugh lines and between-the-eye zones without those nasty frown lines.
--Better harmony and balance between the features and regions of the face: heightened interaction and a renewed focus on angles, curves, contours and proportions.
"Today's emphasis is on a more natural look," said Dr. Gaylon McCullough of Birmingham, Ala., "enhancing a patient's own features rather than placing a kind of mask over them." More and more, McCullough said, "the trend is to individualize the procedures to the patient rather than creating the same look over and over."
And for the '80s, said this specialist in otolaryngology (surgeons who work exclusively in the areas of the ear, nose, throat and face), "fuller, richer lips, high cheekbones and stronger chins are the look of the day."
While a taped recording of, for some reason, "Bolero," wafted through the meeting room, blessedly ungruesome slides of before-and-after surgical success stories flashed on a huge screen. In the context of the looser, less rigid fashion of the '80s, Vogue magazine cover girls of the '60s looked suddenly starchy and plastic, "like Kewpie dolls," said Dr. Robert Simons of Miami, "like mannequins."
But in fact, said Dr. Toby Mayer of Beverly Hills, the typical plastic surgery candidate of the '80s is probably neither model nor starlet, and certainly is not striving to look like either. On the contrary, "the majority are very happy, well-adjusted, normal people who just want to look a little better." When they walk into his office, Mayer said, what these potential patients are likely to say is something like "I don't want to look younger, I just want to look better."
More and more, Mayer said, his patients are likely to be single mothers, working women for whom "how they look is important to their jobs." All too often in the business world, Mayer has found, the sad truth is that employers "simply don't want to promote someone who looks haggard and tired."
For these plastic surgery patients, Mayer said, their reconstructive surgery does not seem to them a luxury. In some ways, rather, "it's an economic reality."
And New York surgeon Dr. Norman Pastorek agreed. Modern advances in blepharoplasty, better known as an eye job, are producing not only a fuller brow, Pastorek said, but also a "healthy, intelligent, assertive, athletic eyelid." The change from the old oh-my round-eyed look is in large part related to what Pastorek dubbed a "sociological, attitudinal change among women." Flashing slides of this less-hooded eye line, Pastorek added, "This is the look of someone who is on the floor of the Stock Exchange. It's a normal look, the look of someone who works in the world."
Similarly, said Dr. Jack Anderson of New Orleans, today's nose, "definitely the most prominent feature of the face," is tending toward "a stronger, more aggressive nose with less tilt, less of an upturn at the end." This reconsidered proboscis, Anderson said, is "more in keeping with our life style today."
Rating an existing nose on a scale of 1-to-100, Anderson said that "normally, we can expect to bring a nose up 20% to 30%." One additional axiom, however, is that "you get the biggest improvement when the deformity is great."
In either case, Anderson said he and his colleagues sketch a patient's new nose on a view box, "much like the game plan a football coach has before he goes into a game." These days, he went on, surgeons try particularly to "make the nose fit the face," rather than, as in earlier eras, "turning the noses out by rote--six every morning, done exactly the same way."
And again, Anderson stressed, nose make-overs are hardly the province of "the big city or the jet set." Mostly, he said, his patients are working people, not the sorts who frequent the covers of fancy magazines at all.
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