The Art of Facial Plastic Surgery

Our most recent book is titled The Art and Craft of Facial Rejuvenation ( The need for skillful craft in plastic surgery is obvious.  The need for art is less obvious but equally important.  Facial analysis is essential to surgical planning, and thoughtful study of a patient’s facial contour described in angles and millimeters (soft and hard tissue cephalometrics) will help set goals and improve results.  We have done research and published in this all important area.

  • Larrabee WF Jr, Maupin G, Sutton D: Profile analysis in facial plastic surgery. Arch Otolaryngol; 111:682-687. ( )
  • Larrabee WF Jr, Sidles J, Sutton D: Three dimensional facial analysis.  Laryngoscope; 98:1273-1274.
  • Toruiumi D, Maupin G, Larrabee W: Computerized Three- Dimensional Facial Analysis 1991 Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery of the Head and neck, pp 457-461. (Please visit our E-Library)
  • Larrabee WF JR: Preoperative Facial Analysis, Aesthetic Facial Surgery (
  • Facial Analysis for Rhinoplasty Otolaryngologic Clinics of North America- Vol 20, No 4

Nevertheless, when the most important judgments are made in the operating suite, one draws on an inner artistic sensibility and not some number or memorized rule to achieve the best outcome.

How do we develop this aesthetic in our students (or in ourselves for that matter)?  First of all, we should be lifelong students of both the art and craft of the specialty.  We should study beauty in its many forms. We encourage our students (residents and fellows) to both study great art and to practice some form of the visual arts to develop their own aesthetic sensibility. Leonardo Da Vinci in his Notebooks is the best Renaissance example of the artist scientist – he described the concept of dividing the face into vertical thirds, for example, and then used this analytic to create realistic but original portraits.

All of us who travel frequently for business or pleasure have a wonderful opportunity to explore art museums in cities large and small.  An art museum is the ideal place to spend a few extra hours in the gaps between or after meetings. For many years, I gave board certifying exams at the Palmer House in Chicago and kept myself sane by frequent visits to the amazing Chicago Art Institute.  We are blessed in Seattle to have a wonderful regional art tradition to enjoy and study.  SAM has an excellent collection, and the Braeseth Gallery is, to my mind, the Seattle gallery for NW art. ( ).  John Braseth himself is a great resource for NW art and has a good view of new artists as well as our NW “classics”.

I have enjoyed over the years writing commentaries on local artists and those known to me personally-. Here are a few examples.

  • Beauty   |   November 1, 2004

Floyd Webb’s Mme. Labaudt

Wayne F. Larrabee, MD

Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2004;6(6):432-432. doi:10.1001/archfaci.6.6.432


  • Beauty   |   January 1, 2006

William Cumming’s Family Stroll

Wayne F. Larrabee, MD

Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2006; 8(1):76-76. doi:10.1001/archfaci.8.1.76


  • Beauty   |   November 1, 2005

Gloria DeArcangelis’s Kala

Wayne F. Larrabee, MD

Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2005; 7(6):433-433. doi:10.1001/archfaci.7.6.433



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