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What is the Golden Ratio or phi – and what does it have to do with modern beauty trends?

Despite the sensationalised celebrity headlines that dominate a lot of cosmetic surgery media coverage, the overriding goal of modern plastic surgery is to attain age-old natural beauty. Trends may come and go, but the formula of natural beauty – of at least, what the human eye is designed to calculate as such – hasn’t changed over millenia.

Described as the Golden Ratio or Golden Triangle, the numerical definition of ‘perfect’ beauty dates back over 2500 years, as a ratio of 1:1.618, known as ‘phi’.

What is the Golden Ratio or phi - and what does it have to do with modern beauty trends? - 1

The ratio refers to a ‘triangle’ of aspects for facial beauty; the width of the mouth to the width of the cheek, the width of the nose to the width of the cheek and the width of the nose to the width of the mouth. The result is a healthy, natural appearance – not over-enhanced or age-defying. It might sound like a cookie cutter version of beauty, but in application by a skilled surgeon, it tailors the objectives of the surgery around the proportions of – and distances between – each patient’s unique characteristics.

It’s often joked that plastic surgeons should be into the ‘face protection’ – not the witness protection – program. And most progressive plastic surgeons don’t want their patients to look unrecognisable or significantly altered by their surgery; they just want them to look as good on the outside, as they feel on the inside. The overdone, over enhanced look of the past is a relic of the past, and timeless beauty is in.

In our clinics, we aim to achieve this by adhering to several principles:

  • We perform age appropriate plastic surgery and non surgical procedures
  • We have confidence and expertise in tailoring our treatments and surgical techniques so that the patient and their plastic surgery will age well
  • We work with what the patient has; their natural proportions
  • Sometimes the best thing to do, is nothing at all
  • We are willing to say no if a patient has unrealistic expectations of their face, breasts or body. Yes, this has disappointed and frustrated some patients, but we’d rather deal with their anger now, rather than perform a procedure that isn’t in their best interest. We’re wiling to accept that even if they vent their frustration with a nasty comment online, at least we can sleep at night knowing we’ve done the right thing!
  • Unique asymmetries and facial quirks can be beautiful; some of the most universally recognised beautiful people naturally have disproportion and nuances that make them far more intriguing and interesting to look at than a formulaically beautiful person.
  • We never aim to make our patients look like someone else. If they bring in a photo of a celebrity, it’s a red flag that their expectations may not be met by their end result.
  • A holistic approach is always best; there’s no point having great bone structure if your skin doesn’t look healthy – or perfect symmetry if premature ageing or hollowing has taken effect. The true value and longevity of surgical results can only be realised when there is a foundation of good health and lifestyle, optimal skin care and dermal support.