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The Golden Ratio and The Beautiful Face city, state

Cosmetic Procedures, Facelift

Part 1.

Some enduring concepts of beauty exist, though these are often subconscious and influence our behaviors is more subtle ways. Some of these eternal truths have been supported by relatively recent, and rigorous, scientific inquiry. A good example is facial symmetry: the more symmetric a face is judged by an observer, the more beautiful the face is considered. In the field of sociological anthropology or evolutionary biology, tendencies like this are typically explained in terms of mating behavior – meaning that the symmetry of a potential mate’s face can be used as a proxy for “good genes” or fertility. This is difficult to prove because the supposed effects are subconscious (and there aren’t a lot of cavemen around to use in experiments), but it seems to make sense in a primitive way. (Warning: this post is pretty nerdy.)

More recently, in terms of human history, mathematicians and philosophers first and artists and scientists later, became interested in the innate beauty of shapes and proportions. Out of this inquiry came the concept of the Golden Ratio or, later in Renaissance Europe, the Divine Proportion. The first references to this idea are found in writings of the ancient Greeks (notably Pythagoras and Aristotle), and the definition is often attributed to Euclid (the founder of geometry). Using the example of a line, this definition states that, for a line of length equal to a plus b, the ratio of a + b to the length a is equal to the ratio of a to b. Make sense? (Check out the diagram below.)


The integer value of this relationship is about 1.62, and it is constant (like its cousin pi [π], or about 3.14, which is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter). Over time, the Golden Ratio has become associated with beauty or an ideal relationship between forms or features – including shapes and measurements of the head or body (cephalometrics or physiognomy). Eventually, the quantity represented above was given a name, the Greek letter phi (φ), which corresponds to the first letter in the surname of a sculptor named Phidias who is said to have used this concept during the construction of the Parthenon – a great temple in ancient Athens. In the next Blog post, we’ll finish this discussion with some present day research and examples.

Part 2.

More recently, the concept of facial symmetry and ideal proportions has been put to use in social science research. Scientists who study human relationships, interpersonal behavior, attraction and mating choices have begun a rigorous and quantitative inquiry into the subconscious factors that play a part in our perception of others. It turns out that the more symmetric a person’s face is, the more attractive it is judged. And physical attractiveness predicts a variety of other (fair or not) treatment in social situations (everything from getting a loan to the verdict in a courtroom). In addition, the particular relationships between parts of the face (eyes, nose, mouth, lips, chin, etc.) contribute to judgments of beauty – the close these come to phi (φ) the better.

The Golden Ratio was used by Canadian oral-maxillofacial surgeon Dr. Stephen Marquardt to create what he called a Phi Mask. This “mask” is really a series of ideal measurements and proportions of facial features according to the Golden Ratio. It turns out that, overlaying the mask on faces of people considered beautiful, these faces conform very nearly to the ideal as described by phi (φ). Interestingly, this has changed very little since antiquity – as demonstrated by applying the mask to statues and human likenesses from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and other cultures. Check out this YouTube video to see the Dr. Marquardt’s mask at work in Photoshop (; this is a bit of an extreme example, but a good demonstration nonetheless. You can also try out the mask on a photo of your face by visiting this website: (Note: I have no association with this site, and there is a $2.99 charge to use the mask, as of my last visit.)

While it is interesting and thought-provoking to use the Golden Ratio as a starting point for discussion of facial beauty and cosmetic surgery, it is also very important to remember another eternal truth: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In every case, I always strive to identify what features my patients most appreciate about their faces, as well as those that they would like to change. In fact, this is the philosophy my practice – helping you look and feel better, while staying uniquely you!

Our Patient Reviews

San Francisco Center for Facial Plastic, Reconstructive & Laser Surgery

5 / 5.0

Based on 23 reviews

Christina G.

I had several nasal/sinus issues including a severely deviated septum and a dorsal hump, which I wasn't crazy about. Dr Ransom did both the medical and aesthetic parts of my surgery and he did a wonderful job! While I did have some swelling, I didn't experience much bruising at all. I loved that he left the natural look of my nose just making small corrections. My breathing has GREATLY improved. His office staff was super helpful in scheduling and making sure payment and everything was very clear. I am very, very, very pleased with my results!!

Tk I.

I had a terrible surf accident in Bali and needed to get 50 stitches to repair what the reef did to my face. I had emergency cosmetic surgery in Bali the day of the accident. Immediately when i got back to the states i was introduced to Dr Ransom through some mutual friends. I was searching for the best cosmetic surgeon in San Francisco to help in my recovery. He and his team have been amazing! he helped establish a plan for my post-op wound care/treatment and administered some initial laser treatments. Dr Ransom and his team are extremely knowledgeable and very patient / helpful. I am very grateful for their help and support. I am finally looking normal again!

Joey B.

I had three issues with my nose - which inhibited my breathing: 1- broken nose, 2 - narrow nostrils that collapsed when I inhaled through my nose, 3 - deviated septum. When I was living in New York, I went to see a doctor about my breathing issues, and he said my skin was too thin and there was likely nothing he could do to rectify the problem. Dr. Ransom was recommended by an ENT I saw through One Medical. As soon as he saw him, he said he could easily fix my nose, and remove the bump that had formed from the trauma. His confidence and strong sense of self immediately put me at ease, and I had little doubt that he could accomplish exactly what he promised. He showed me a modified picture of my nose , and really liked what he proposed. The end result very closely matched what he promised. Not only can I now breath much more easily through my nose, it looks much better. He managed to make it look like an improved version of itself, however I still look like me, and unless I tell anyone I had it done, it's not overly noticeable, which I prefer. I'm pretty vain and very critical, and I can say that Dr. Ransom is great, and comes highly recommended.

Edward T.

Doctor Evan Ransom took my surgery on relatively short order and did a wonderful job. He is very talented and has a nice friendly professional support staff. I can not thank him enough, he was calm, caring, professional and interested in the follow results of his work . He seemed to bring a certain artistry to the profession.

Lisa C.

Dr. Ransom is a talented physician. He is knowledgeable, professional and goes the extra mile to make you feel comfortable during your treatments. He has been blessed with an artistic eye which brings wonderful results. I highly recommend Dr. Ransom and would refer all of my friends and family members to choose him as their physician.

Cheryl H.

Dr Ransom is very kind, honest, and conscience doctor. I was referred by my best friend, she is also Doctor Ransom patient. She has so much good things said about Doctor Ransom. So I had a face lift done by Doctor Ransom on July 2015. He did a wonderful job on my face and I have a lot of compliments on my face. So if anyone want to get their face done. I would highly recommended Doctor Ransom to you. I give Doctor Ransom a five stars.

Jill P.

I have currently been getting botox regularly with Dr. Ransom and he does a fantastic job. My previous doctor's office moved to another location where it was no longer convenient. I didn't realize what I was missing until I went to Dr. Ransom. I felt really comfortable, but most important he did a terrific job blowing my previous doctor out of the park. (Sometimes it's good switch it up a bit to make sure you are getting the best treatment.) On top of that, Dee the office manager is an incredible asset to the office. She personalizes your visit and relationship with the office to an extent I have never experienced before. I even get follow up calls to see how I am doing after a treatment. I highly recommend Dr. Ransom for his great work, and his team's impeccable customer service.

Arielle C.

Dr. Ransom and Dee are the BEST! Whether it's aesthetic or reconstructive, I'd trust him over and over again with my face.