Understanding Women’s Complicated Relationship to the Mirror

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Aesthetic Surgery Journal study uncovers women’s changing perceptions of facial features as they age.

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This study is very interesting because it clearly shows that most women tend to compare their appearance to that of younger women.

Facial aesthetic treatments are among the most popular cosmetic procedures around the world, but why do so many women want to change what they see in the mirror? And what features do they most like or dislike about their faces? A group of Turkish researchers seeking to understand women’s motivations for changing their facial appearance found that, among women in their 20s, the nose and skin were the primary features that women focused on most and most desired to change, whereas the skin and the area around the eyes (periorbital region) were the main areas of concern for women in their 30s and 40s. For women in their 50s, the periorbital region and jawline were the primary facial focal points. The full findings are published in “Mirror on the Wall: A Study of Women’s Perception of Facial Features as They Age,” appearing in the May issue of Aesthetic Surgery Journal.

“We wanted to better understand why patients desire to alter their facial features. What is it that leads them to seek so-called perfection?” said lead author Billur Sezgin, MD, of Gazi University in Ankara, Turkey. “We found that many women are not at peace with what they see in the mirror. When women look in the mirror, they primarily focus on the parts of their face they most dislike or desire to change. Not surprisingly, this dissatisfaction is the strongest motivator for seeking facial aesthetic treatments.”

Women presenting to a cosmetic surgery outpatient clinic for consultation (N=200) were asked which part of their face they focused on most when they look in the mirror, which part they noticed most in the faces of other women, what they liked/disliked most about their own face, and whether they wished to change any facial feature. The study revealed that women focused on the areas of their face that they disliked the most, leading to a desire to change those features. In addition, as women aged, the feature they focused on most changed. The participants also indicated that, regardless of their own age, they generally focused on the facial features of women in their 20s and 30s where they perceived their own flaws, but did not focus on those features when looking at older women.

“This study is very interesting because it clearly shows that most women tend to compare their appearance to that of younger women,” said Foad Nahai, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Aesthetic Surgery Journal. “This has strong implications for patient selection and satisfaction, reminding us that we need to both understand why patients are seeking treatment and ensure that they have a realistic understanding of aesthetic outcomes.”

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), women in the U.S. had nearly 8.4 million cosmetic procedures performed in 2011, a large percentage of which involved the face.


The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body. ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

About ASJ
The Aesthetic Surgery Journal is the peer-reviewed publication of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) and is the most widely read clinical journal in the field of cosmetic surgery, with subscribers in more than 60 countries

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Media contact: Adeena Babbitt or Ashley Barton
212.921.0500, media(at)surgery.org
Please credit the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery

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Ashley Barton
Amer Soc for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
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