Ever been told that you look sad or tired even though you feel fit and fine? Well, if the problem isn't your mood, it might be the face, according to a new research.
A study in a recent issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, found that variations in eyebrow shape, eyelid position, and wrinkles significantly impact how a person's facial expressions, and subsequent mood, are perceived by others.
"A key complaint of those seeking facial plastic surgery is that people always tell them they look tired, even though they do not feel tired," said John Persing, MD, ASPS member and study co-author.
"We found that variations in eyebrow contour, drooping of the upper eyelid, and wrinkles may be conveying facial expressions that don't necessarily match how patients are feeling," he added.
In the study, a standardized photo of a youthful face was digitally altered to change a number of variables, including eyebrow shape and position; upper and lower eyelid position; upper eyelid drooping and removal of excess skin; and facial wrinkles.
Twenty health care workers were given 16 photos and asked to rate, on a scale of 0 to 5, the presence of seven expressions or emotions: tiredness, happiness, surprise, anger, sadness, disgust, and fear.
The results for each altered photo were compared with scores from the original unaltered photo. Overall, eyebrow shape had a greater influence than absolute position on perceived mood.
The analysis revealed that drooping of the upper eyelid was the biggest indicator of tiredness. Simulating skin removal of the upper eyelid, as performed in some eyelid procedures, but not correcting accompanying eyelid ptosis (drooping), resulted in an increase in the perception of tiredness (and sadness). Photos that included an overall elevation of the eyebrows or an increase in the distance between the eyebrow and upper eyelid also increased the perception of tiredness.
Lowering or slanting the inner corner of the eyebrows towards the nose, as well as adding forehead winkles significantly increased the perceived facial expressions of anger and disgust, the study found.
When it came to sad facial expressions, raising the inner corner of the eyebrows away from the nose made the damage.
Happiness was perceived by raising the lower eyelid and the presence of crow's feet, which, according to the study, seem to simulate the cheek elevation that occurs with smiling, the study found.
"The eyes and their related structures nonverbally communicate a wide range of expressions that are universal to all people. Therefore facial expression should be a factor in how patients and their plastic surgeons select various rejuvenation procedures," said Dr. Persing.