There are a lot of misconceptions out there about facial plastic surgery. For example, many people mistakenly believe that the specialty is called “plastic surgery” because we use plastic, or other artificial materials like silicone, in various procedures. However this is not the case. The “plastic” used here actually refers to the Greek word “plastikos” which means “to mold or shape.” This is because plastic surgery procedures often involve the manipulation soft tissues, like fat, skin, or even cartilage to improve the appearance of the face or body. However, even this fails to tell the whole story. While many truly amazing results can be achieved by shaping soft tissue alone, sometimes more substantial structural changes are required to correct defects or repair damage. In the case of facial plastic surgery, this is frequently the case when chin surgery, or genioplasty, comes into play.
There are fourteen separate bones that make up the structure of the face and jaw, and together they form the foundation for all of the facial features. While shaping any of these bones can potentially alter the appearance of the face, it is the mandible, or jaw bone, which is most frequently addressed. Not only does the mandible define the entire lower half of the face, but it also acts to balance the nose and ears and provide overall symmetry. When a congenital defect, disease, or traumatic injury makes the chin disproportionately large or small, or when a patient wishes to change the size or shape of the chin to give their face a more masculine or feminine appearance, genioplasty (chin surgery) is often the answer.
Some patients wish to increase the size and projection of the chin in order to make the face appear stronger and more decisive. In these cases, a sliding genioplasty adjusts a portion of the mandible so that it can be shifted slightly forward, adding vertical height as well as projection. This achieves the desired goals without the need for an artificial implant, reducing the risk of allergic reaction, surgical rejection, or post-operative infection. Other facial contouring techniques can be used to reduce the size of the chin or to subtly alter its shape as well. This is particularly useful when treating cases of macrognathia, an abnormally large jaw caused by disease or genetic defect.
There is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” plastic surgery procedure, and although chin surgery and other facial contouring procedures are all vital components of both cosmetic and reconstructive facial plastic surgery, they are not necessarily appropriate for all patients. If you would like to meet with me for a personalized facial plastic surgery consultation where we can go over your individual areas of concern and determine what specific facial plastic surgery procedures might be right for you, contact me, Dr. Fernando Burstein, to schedule an appointment, and connect with me on social media.