Background: Facial attractiveness research has yielded many discoveries in the past 30 years, and facial cosmetic, plastic, and reconstructive surgeons should have a thorough understanding of these findings. Many of the recent studies were conducted by social, developmental, cognitive, and evolutionary psychologists, and although the findings have been published in the psychology literature, they have not been presented in a comprehensive manner appropriate to surgeons.
Methods: The author reviews the findings of facial attractiveness research from antiquity to the present day and highlights and analyzes important concepts necessary for a thorough understanding of facial attractiveness.
Results: Four important cues emerge as being the most important determinants of attractiveness: averageness (prototypicality), sexual dimorphism, youthfulness, and symmetry.
Conclusions: A surgeon planning facial cosmetic, plastic, or reconstructive surgery can potentially gain both profound insight and better quality surgical results by appreciating these findings.