March 22, 2009
-- I have been asked this month to write an article on the concept of Beauty. Is it really a universal phenomenon or judging by this Sunday’s Irish Independent does the actions of Dr. Frederic Brandt in his New York clinic in any way interfere with my ability to inject Restylane in Dublin in order that someone may say “your patient from Killiney now looks beautiful”? For those who may not have read the article let me first introduce Dr. Brandt and then the concept of beauty in that order. It is nearly 25 years since he started down the smoothing road of cosmetic dermatology after completing a dual residency in Oncology and Dermatology in Philadelphia. In his own words, he has personally tested every aesthetic procedure on himself. He also claims to be the biggest user of Botox and Collagen in the world. Make no bones about; the 59-year old Brandt is in every sense, surreal looking and heavily marketed to the point that he calls himself the “Baron of Botox” and the “King of Collagen”. But more recently, he is becoming increasingly known as the doctor behind the New New Face and clients from all over the world are paying up to €5,000 for his services. His “New New” procedure uses another catch phrase the “Y Lift’ to demonstrate a technique where filler is injected into the area below the cheekbones to give a fuller type effect than the previous ‘stretched’
face readily demonstrated after a facelift.
So, is there anything new in Brandt’s New New technique? In one syllable..No!
Frederic Brandt is just capitalising on a technique used by every worthwhile aesthetic physician for the past 10 years and that is trying to make a woman’s face resemble that of a child. This method has been used by the father of aesthetic medicine Dr. Pierre Fournier as far back as the early eighties when superfluous fat became available after the introduction of liposuction. More advanced practitioners started using more cross linked Hyaluronic Acid fillers such as Perlane to achieve the same effect at the turn of the last century. In fact this is the method used in Advanced Dermal filler training courses that I have been teaching doctors in my Dublin clinic since 2002. So, what is the reason that Dr. Brandt can make such audacious claims and has them beating a path to his Manhattan door? Well, there are actually three reasons. The first is the not to be underestimated power of New York marketing companies..ah..for the chance of some of that energy!. The second is something that I have said before on many other occasions on both sides of the Atlantic..the United States runs behind Europe by at least 5 years! This is due to the reason the FDA holds back all aesthetic compounds for at least this period for clinical approval. Let us not forget that I was using Restylane as a young doctor in provincial Australia as far back as 1997 but it was only approved for use in America in 2003. The third is the fact there is nothing new about the fact that a baby’s face is the marker of aesthetic beauty. In fact, so confident am I of the oldness of the new technique I could use the next few paragraphs of my article to quote directly from a lecture that I was supposed to give on the opening of an award winning MediSpa in Killarney some years ago.
Though the perception of facial beauty is "in the eye of the beholder," some qualities, features, and proportions are universally esteemed. Across cultures, research on facial attractiveness has pointed out that the presence of childlike facial features increases attractiveness. In a study of Japanese and American observers' judgments of female attractiveness (Perrett, May, and Yoshikawa 1994) where high cheekbones, a thin lower jaw, large eyes, and a shorter distance between the mouth and chin (and between the nose and mouth) are preferred as qualities in men's and women's faces alike.
Cuteness” is a perception that is universally esteemed throughout the animal kingdom. It is related to babylike features. A set of youthful features and proportions (e.g., wide-set eyes and full lips set upon soft, smooth, unblemished skin) appears to be attractive both in male and female faces. The existence of this infantile schema as a sign of beauty was originally identified in mammals (including Homo sapiens) by Konrad Lorenz as far back as 1939.
Universal research on facial attractiveness has pointed out that the presence of childlike facial features increases attractiveness. These are: large head, large curved forehead, facial elements (eyes, nose, mouth) located relatively low, large, round eyes, small, short nose, round cheeks and small chin.
Large curved forehead
Facial elements (eyes, nose, mouth) located relatively low
Large, round eyes
Small, short nose
In that lecture, I also note that Kate Moss’s face shows characteristic infantile schema or ‘baby features’ when compared to that of a 4yo but it also includes mature female features like high, prominent cheek bones and concave cheeks which are accentuated evenly by using make-up. Could that have been the harbinger of things to come? Nevertheless, Kate survived as well as the information. In essence, whenever women covering blemishes and wrinkles—they are actually only highlighting the infantile schema women have used facial cosmetics for millennia.
So in fact, nothing new new!. It is interesting to also see further down in the article the angle that Jonathan Van Meter in New York and US Vogue magazine takes. ‘I blame the New New aesthetic look on fashion and celebrity fashion magazines filled with images of teenagers plump and dewy and flushed with youth. They try to shed fat but cannot lose the baby fat of their faces. This is what women want ‘baby fat’. Oh please, get a life all you New York hacks and see life outside your blinkered cityscapes. They want it because technology in New York is catching up with Europe and your doctors are only doing what every doctor here has been doing for the past ten years.
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