Blink Effect:  How We Perceive Beauty and the Role of Cosmetic Surgery Enhancement

One of the most important things that a woman typically wants fixed is the fine lines around her mouth.  I have found this to be the case no matter if she is 33 years old or 85 years old.  Why is this oftentimes the case then?  The reason is that women look too closely at themselves to judge how they look.  It is oftentimes at 8 pm when the makeup is coming off and they are 3 inches from their 8x or 10x magnifying mirror when they judge how good they think they look.  However, is that how other people see them?  The answer is no.

We human beings as social creatures tend to judge each other from a more casual distance of 5 to 20 feet away and we do so in an immediate way.  In less than a second we have already determined whether someone else looks good, unattractive, well dressed, etc.  This concept was beautifully articulated and elaborated in genius writer Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink.  In a blink of an eye we have made a decision about someone else.  Accordingly, when a plastic surgeon strategizes about how to enhance a person’s look, he or she should focus on what elements would truly make a person look better in a blink of an eye.

This woman underwent a combination of fat grafting and rhinoplasty and is shown with a better overall result to make her more attractive in a “blink effect” way.

This woman underwent a combination of fat grafting and rhinoplasty and is shown with a better overall result to make her more attractive in a “blink effect” way.

Many times what a plastic surgeon sees may not be what a prospective patient sees for a host of reasons.  First, there is a lot of emotional baggage that arises from a person’s decision to have enhancement, e.g., “my lines around my mouth look like my mother’s” or “ I was always teased as a child about my…”.  Second, a patient may simply lack the knowledge of the possibilities for enhancement, e.g., he or she may only be focused on the smile lines when in fact their hollow and gaunt cheeks may be the reason they do not look so good.  Third, budgetary reasons may influence a patient’s decision to have a certain procedure performed and not another one.

In any case, it is advisable within reason for a surgeon to help a patient navigate what the surgeon sees in addition to the patient’s if it is not done in an offensive way.  I always like to say if I went to my attorney with what I would like to have done, I would still listen to my attorney’s thoughts and advice because he would know a lot more than I would on the subject of law.  Therefore, I think it is important that a surgeon at least give his or her opinion as to what could improve someone especially when it pertains to achieving a better blink effect.

Do not underestimate the power of what the blink can do to a person’s life.  Figure it this way:  if you have something done and only you think you look better at close range in the mirror but still have many people ask if you are tired or angry when you are not, is that good?  Conversely, if you receive a lot of compliments that you look better but no one can figure out why, is that better?  I think the latter is better so long as no one can tell that you have had any cosmetic procedure done, i.e., it is seamless and undetectable.  Accordingly, the goal of a plastic surgeon would be at least to help a prospective individual understand the power of the blink effect described in the latter scenario.

Samuel M. Lam, MD, FACS is a board certified plastic surgeon in Dallas, Texas. To learn more about Dr Lam’s facial rejuvenation and rhinoplasty procedures please visit our website or call 972.312.8188 to schedule a consultation.