Korean Versus North American Facial Beauty Standards

How do two different cultures view facial features when it comes to beauty? Here’s an interesting blog by a Canadian husband and wife team (living in Korea) who make some insightful observations on how Koreans view facial beauty. In particular, they comment on the fact that native Koreans prefer a V-Line face, with narrow jaws and smaller cheekbones. They even sell facial rollers to narrow your face. 

While reading this post and watching this video, I couldn’t help but to think about the airway implications with narrow jaws—the more narrow your face, the less room there is for your tongue, and the more likely you’ll have breathing problems when sleeping. There are reports of plastic surgeons performing jaw-line narrowing procedures, such as masseter muscle or jaw reduction, and even using botox to shrink the masseter muscles. There’s also a recent trend to perform maxillo-mandibular advancement procedures purely for cosmetic reasons. This procedure will actually enlarge your airways, if done properly.

Even in the United States, people’s preferences for facial beauty may be changing, with more popular celebrities having narrower faces and jawlines.

It’s surprising how far some people will go to improve their facial appearance, at the cost (unknowingly) of diminished sleep quality and accelerated aging.

What’s your perception of facial beauty? Do you prefer a round face with wide jaws, or a narrow, triangular face?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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3 thoughts on “Korean Versus North American Facial Beauty Standards

  1. My general rule is life is to do opposite what Hollywood actors prescribe to lead a successful life. I’m currently 1 year into using my ‘DNA Appliance’ and now understand why my childhood orthodontist was so misinformed. I suffered greatly from that ignorance and am now trying to reverse it’s effects at the age of 44. So far, so good, although it’s a slow process.

  2. I feel very sorry for any Korean person who has been influenced by Caucasian standards of beauty to do something which might easily cause them to die earlier from OSA. One classic standard of facial balance in Caucasians is the Esthetic Line which is a line drawn from the tip of the nose to the most forward part of the soft tissue of the chin. If the lips are ahead of this line the face may be deemed “too full”. Frequently, many of those who use this measure ignore the fact that the chin may be recessed. The further the chin is recessed the more the lips will seem prominent relative to that line. That goes for Caucasian and Asian patients. The point is that people whose faces really are not that full seem so because their chin is recessed.

    The truly disturbing fact is that Asian noses are often about 3-4 mm. shorter than a Caucasian nose. I’ve come to this conclusion after superimposing a Caucasian profile norm on the face of many of my Asian patients over the last 15 years. Using the Esthetic Line on an Asian person with a nose which is 4 mm. shorter than a Caucasian nose will pretty much find most Asians with a profile that is too full according to this one measurement. The classic orthodontic approach to change all this and flatten the face is to remove four bicuspid teeth and then retract the front teeth in the face. Doing so can dramatically flatten a person’s face. There are many articles in the refereed literature which proudly show such profile changes. Substantial retraction of the front teeth can result even as the back teeth move forward in the process (minimizing the possible retraction).

    In Korea there is a huge interest in Temporary Anchorage Devices (TAD’s) in orthodontics. These are small screws placed temporarily in bone to allow the orthodontist to move certain teeth and not others. There are now articles in the refereed literature showing how these TAD’s can MAXIMIZE the retraction of the teeth in the face and obviously flatten the profile even more. The back molars which can come forward and minimize the retraction of the front teeth stay exactly where they are. The space closure comes almost entirely by retraction of the front teeth. The sad part is that any retraction of the teeth can encroach on the tongue space/airway. As someone who has been reversing previous orthodontic extraction spaces for people since 1989, I do not view this as a good thing at all. Any retraction might cause a given person to snore and/or develop OSA. I have a patient where we reopened her upper extraction spaces and completely eliminated her OSA in spite of her 10 pound weight gain during the treatment. (Sleep Report signed by sleep physician to confirm this). In my mind, retraction of the front teeth is never a good idea.

    A recent study in the refereed literature from China documented airway reduction in a sample of patients who were treated for the sole reason of wanting to reduce the fullness of their faces. That article did not go so far as to implicate such airway reduction as a causative factor in possibly producing OSA. You can decide for yourself if you think reducing the airway for someone is ever a good thing. It saddens me to think of many Korean (and other Asian) people who might undergo treatment to bring their front teeth back in their faces and thereby reduce their airways enough to cause OSA. This seems a pretty high price to pay for achieving some dubious standard of facial balance that was never meant for this population of people.

  3. I would rather look like a neanderthal and not have sleep apnea, than be “beautiful” and have a narrow airway.