Improving facial expressions through natural-looking surgical rejuvenation greatly improves social acceptance, according to "The Emoticon Effect," an original study from board-certified plastic surgeon Christian Drehsen, M.D., medical director of Clinique of Plastic Surgery (St. Petersburg, FL), that explores the link between facial expression vectors and social response. Drehsen uses the emoticon, a combination of the word emotion and icon, as a guide for facial expression using punctuation marks, numbers, and letters. Emojis have largely replaced the use of rough emoticons, though they are still an effective way of relating to how facial expressions change with age and plastic surgery solutions.
For years, scientists have studied how humans perceive and classify emotions based on common facial vectors. Findings have shown that downward vectors—commonly associated with frowning—universally convey negative emotions, while upward vectors—such as smiling—convey positive emotions and youthfulness.
"Facial expressions and emoticons alike are instantly understood, as they symbolize with a few lines or 'vectors' universal human emotions or state of mind," says Drehsen. "Unfortunately, as we age, these vectors often create unflattering and misinterpreted expressions that at times trigger discrimination, indifference, or prejudice."
In The Emoticon Effect, he concludes that by improving facial vectors in a uniquely natural looking facial rejuvenation, patients will benefit from a much greater social desirability than before the procedure. “When a person has a deep frown and the corners of his/her mouth turned down with aging, he/she looks sad or angry,” he says. “If the outlines are not addressed, this patient will likely keep the same expression despite our efforts at rejuvenation.”
For the purpose of the study, facial rejuvenation included a vertical Refresher Lift, modulated Dual Plane Brow Lift, and sectional fat grafting. The Refresher Lift is a groundbreaking facial rejuvenation process developed by Drehsen. He uses upward facial vectors as a guide to restore vitality and youthfulness to the face.
"This study amply supports the need for a paradigm shift in the planning of facial rejuvenation procedures," says Drehsen. "While many celebrities seek out 'quick lifts' or other miraculous nips and tucks to mimic youth for their aging face, most of these blatantly obvious transformations rarely produce the expected positive responses from their social environment."
When consulting with new patients Drehsen asks questions to understand the social interactions of the client and opportunities for improvement. “What does your face express for your friends or peers? ” he says. “What has changed with age that you want to restore? You’re not going to look 20, but you can sure be a dynamic 40, 50, or 60 who looks full of life. And that’s what I call aging gracefully.”
“It’s important to truly rejuvenate by regaining a youthful facial geometry with volume restoration through fat grafting and vertical uplifting, reducing fat deposition with attentive preplatysmal or subcutaneous defatting, and keeping the hairline low and natural with refined incisional technique.” These answers help guide the innovative rejuvenation procedure for an uplifted appearance and boosted social experience.