Facial asymmetry is when the two halves of the face are different to each other. The degree of difference varies between people, but facial asymmetry is common in some degree. If you have an asymmetrical face, and you want it to be more symmetrical, we explain the options available to you.
Why is a symmetrical face important?
It has long been assumed that a symmetrical face is a sign of beauty, compared with an asymmetrical face. Of course, this is a matter of preference and taste, with many finding an asymmetrical face more appealing. Minor asymmetries are very common, and nearly everyone is asymmetric to some degree. Some people however, have major differences between the two sides of their face, and would like them corrected. Whether you want to improve the minor asymmetries, or to correct the more major structural asymmetry, there are a number of surgical options available to you.
What causes an asymmetrical face?
Many cases of asymmetry don’t have a cause, and small asymmetries can develop as we grow. An uneven jaw may be genetic, it may be too small, or too large, but it could also be caused by injuries during the development stage of childhood, such as a broken jaw. Other conditions such as cleft lip or palate can lead to asymmetries. More serious deformities may cause problems with eating, jaw joint problems and speech difficulties.
Orthognathic treatment is a type of surgery which can correct asymmetry of the facial skeleton and align the jaws. The surgery can be performed on both the upper and lower jaws, and can balance the relationship between the teeth and the improve the symmetry of the face as a whole.
What does orthognathic surgery involve?
If you think you may benefit from orthognathic surgery, first of all, you should book an appointment for a consultation where a full history will be taken followed by photograph, x-rays and possibly CT scans. Models of your jaw will be made, and the treatment will be planned by your oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
Treatment usually begins with an initial period of 12-18 months wearing braces on the teeth. Tooth extractions may also be necessary during this period. The braces help to straighten the teeth in the jaw and get them into the correct position. Once the teeth are in the correct position, surgery is performed to straighten and align the jaws. Following the surgery, a further 4-6 months of wearing a brace is often needed to get the final position perfected. It is usual for a dental retainer to be worn to hold the teeth in the correct position after treatment as the teeth naturally want to move back into their original position. The retainer may be a small wire attached to the back of the teeth or a splint worn on the teeth at night time.
Although orthognathic surgery is a long process, involving some discomfort, and some time off work, the treatment generally is associated with high patient satisfaction, especially in those patients that have severe asymmetries and the problems associated with it.
What else can I do to achieve a symmetrical face?
Other procedures that can be offered by your oral and maxillofacial surgeon to achieve a more symmetrical face include:
Chin surgery is a procedure to improve the appearance of the chin, and there are a number of different options for this. The chin can be moved forwards or backwards if needed, a procedure known as genioplasty. The size of the chin can also be reduced if needed, and you can also have chin implants to increase the definition of the chin if required. Make an appointment with a specialist to find out more about options available to you for chin surgery.
Facelift / blepharoplasty / facial implants
If the source of your asymmetry is purely soft tissue-related, rather than structural, there are a number of options available to you to correct this.
A facelift can reduce the appearance of loose and sagging skin and give a more youthful appearance, a blepharoplasty can remove the appearance of loose skin and fatty deposits around the eyes, and can also remove the appearance of loose, hanging eyelids which may give an asymmetrical appearance to the face.
Facial implants and facial reconstruction may be opted for to improve the proportions of the face. These may be to correct disfigurements or congenital malformations, or to repair accidental damage.
If you would like to make your face more symmetrical, book a consultation with Miss Katherine George at her Top Doctors profile.