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Minor Facial Scars Don’t Adversely Affect First Impressions, Study Finds

A new survey found that minor facial scars, after healing, had little or no impact on how faces were rated for attractiveness. In fact, some scars were even linked to more favorable ratings, according to a study in the December issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

Faces rated for confidence, friendliness and attractiveness

The researchers designed a survey to identify factors that could be potentially modified to improve how facial scars are perceived. Photographs were altered by adding 14 unique scars in various locations and orientations. Survey participants rated 50 different faces in terms of confidence, friendliness and attractiveness. Nearly 89,000 ratings by 1,800 respondents were analyzed.

Average ratings for “attractiveness” (on a scale of 0 to 5) were 4.25 for scarred faces and 4.26 for unscarred faces. Ratings for “confidence” were not significantly different. Faces with scars were actually rated higher for “friendliness” than non-scarred faces.

In many locations and orientations, facial scars had no major impact on appearance.

Facial scars found to have little impact

“The presence of a facial scar did not have a significant impact on attractiveness,” study authors wrote. “Contrary to our predictions, we found that a single well-healed scar generally does not affect individuals’ first impressions of perceived attractiveness or confidence negatively and may even increase perceived friendliness.”

Minimizing the severity of scars, particularly on the face, is an important objective for plastic surgeons. Scar Revision is the third most frequently performed type of reconstructive surgery with almost 264,000 patients in 2020, according to ASPS statistics.

The findings may be “surprising and perhaps welcome news,” the study said, to patients concerned that facial scars or incisions may negatively affect their appearance or how they are perceived by others.

Source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons

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