Canadian plastic surgeon Dr Arthur Swift outlines his techniques in non-surgical rejuvenation, using the BeautiPHIcation approach .

On discovering the Phi Principle

I was always surprised to see how people could discern an attractive face so quickly – even in one eight or ninth of a second .

How can we process that information so quickly? If you take the fastest processors in the world, or the super computers, they’re all based on mathematics, on the binary system. Maybe our brains are doing the same thing, very rapidly assessing the proportions and balance of the face? When I started investigating the history of beauty and aesthetics, I saw all the renaissance artists believed beauty resided in mathematics, that beauty was a science. I saw how they were measuring everything they were doing, and I thought, why aren’t we doing that? I also learnt our eye picks up on how close ratios are to the golden, or divine proportion of 1 to 1.618. Even in facial aesthetics, the closer the ratios are to that golden mean, the more beautiful that person seems to be. So I thought, “we can take advantage of that” .

Applying measurements to a clinical setting proved difficult however. Unlike a sculpture, or a painting on canvas, our faces change with age and they change radically. I needed to find a reference point, or a mathematical constant .

After three years of researching, I discovered some papers that show the medial canthas doesn’t change with age, unless there is disease involved. The measurement between the red dots at the inner corners of each eye became my constant .

On using the Phi Principle in-practice

In practice, I measure the distance of the medial canthas with a calliper, and set my calliper to give me 1.618 times that distance .

This ratio should occur several times over on the face. If it’s not appearing, this should guide the injection technique. I will augment or fill those areas that are not at proportion, to try and bring the ratios closer to the phi relationship. This also assists in establishing the stop point .

From a patient’s perspective, it adds another dimension of credibility. Ordinarily, they are relying on the aesthetic eye of the physician but, in using the phi principle, this changes from the subjective to the objective .

Most importantly, especially in today’s cosmetic environment, the results are subtle and natural looking. When I started to measure faces and bringing them to this phi proportion, I was getting the “wow effect”. The reaction of my patients was always ‘wow, I haven’t looked like this since I was younger’ or ‘I’ve never looked as good as I am now – but it’s still me.’ The Phi Principle is also applicable across a wide patient demographic. When I show pictures of different people of different races, it doesn’t make a difference if they’re looking at African American or Asian faces, they’ll al pick the same beautiful face and there will be just subtle differences. They’re choosing a proportion that in their brain is attractive .

On creating symmetry

Many practitioners try to make the two sides of the face look like twins in performing a treatment with dermal fillers, but if you ever see a photograph where the left side of the face is reflected onto the right side with mirror imaging, it can actually look quite boring, even alien-like .

I prefer to use the expression that the two sides of the face should be “sisters”, not “twins”. This applies to all aspects of the face, except the right and left side of the lips .

There is an important distinction – I do not teach practitioners to try to create asymmetry. Instead, I remind them not to get caught up in trying to create perfect symmetry because it may actually detract from the final result .

On treatment mapping

A lot of injectors, especially novice and middle grade injectors will treat the areas they know how to treat. They’ll focus on the lip or the cheeks, and forget about the other areas of the face. Usually, it ends up looking like the restoration of a beautiful car – but when you’ve only restored parts of the car, not the whole car .

In approaching the whole face, I divide the face into thirds and break each third down into a formula. I think “I can either treat the lines of this area, or the contour of this area or the feature of this area.” I always look at the features first – the eyebrow is the feature of the upper third, the nose is the feature of the middle third and the lips are the feature of the lower third. Then, I look at the lines and contours .

It becomes like a check list – you have to imagine you’re like a pilot on the plane and, although you’ve flown that plane a thousand times before, you go through that checklist to make sure you’re not missing anything. It doesn’t mean to you have to treat every section in the same session, it just means you understand more. For example, you understand there’s a little volume loss in the forehead, or that the temples are a little hollow, or that one eyebrow is slightly higher than the other .

On non-surgical nasal narrowing

The surgical approach – where a wedge of skin at the base of the nose is excised – is still the most popular technique for nasal narrowing. But it can lead to visible scarring, especially in African American patients .

In milder cases of nasal narrowing, when you’re trying to narrow the nose very slightly, to bring it into proportion with the rest of the face, I often use dermal fillers. I inject at the crease between the base of the nose and the cheek. When you fill this with filler, it actually lifts the base and allows the nostril to narrow .

As we age, the nasal bone starts to pull back, and the nose has to follow it. If we start to see nasal widening as due to a loss of support in that area, brining the support back is like getting the right key for the right lock .

I use hyaluronic acid (HA) fillers for this procedure. You can use other products, but I’m a big HA believer because it exists in the body to begin with and it’s also erasable .

There are many techniques for achieving optimal outcomes in facial rejuvenation. However, I find the BeautiPHIcation approach is easy to use, can be applied across a wide patient demographic and achieves natural-looking results with high patient satisfaction. By changing aesthetic analysis from the subjective to the objective, BeautiPHIcation helps provide consistently beautiful results in non-surgical enhancement. AMP

Dr Arthur Swift
Dr Arthur Swift

 About Dr Swift

Canadian plastic surgeon Dr Arthur Swift is the father of BeautiPHIcation, an approach to global facial enhancement. Here, he talks on using the golden ratio, or Phi, to create the most natural and aesthetically pleasing results in non-surgical facial rejuvenation. He urges practitioners to stop striving for perfection and instead focus on creating optimum proportions.

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