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Face Contouring: Peaks and Valleys to create Shadows and Curves

Today I’m going to expand on my phrase “peaks and valleys to create shadows and curves”.

The key is using face contouring to create peaks and valleys that allow for shadows and curves. What most people like is a small prominence in the upper third of the cheek that subsequently creates a nice shadow under that prominence (the high cheekbone look). They also like some sharp demarcation and definition of the jawline. With definition on the jawline to create a shadow under that anatomical subunit under the chin at the angle of the jaw and along the middle of the jawline we give a distinct, sharp and contoured look.

This is the “snatched” look. Everyone is after a #snatched look these days.


To accomplish this look we either adjust, sculpt or add proper volume or precisely use a redistribution of the patience of volume into the right locations. I call it a four layered cheek sculpting for a reason. The reason I call at four layered cheek sculptingBuccal Fat Removal - Before After Example - Dr Caughlin is because number one I tighten the skin classically with threads and thread lifting, number two I add volume to the subcutaneous layer, number three we sculpt the bone with a different higher viscosity filler, number for we tighten or remove or sculpt the fat pad which is the deepest layer of the face. Manipulating these four layers is what allows the contouring and that is the key.

This is the look people are after.  It is what make up artists do, it is what the photoshop artists do, it is what the magazine editors and website editors do. Essentially, it is what I do for permanent results!  At this point in my career I have developed enough of an aesthetic eye to be able to take it advantage of a patient’s natural peaks and valleys to enhance their natural curves in shadows. That is what allows it to look the nicest, as well as most natural and sleek. When somebody looks unnatural an unbalanced from fillers or a surgery it is a result of a surgeon or the patient or the nurse or the doctor that has attempted to alter their face in an unnatural way and to obtain a look that does not fit their proper facial aesthetic landscapes and proportions.

Find a surgeon you trust and be clear with the ultimate goals of your face contouring


I say this frequently, but the goal is to find a surgeon you trust, and also to be very clear with your goals. You should work with this surgeon to ultimately obtain the look you want that looks good and makes you feel the way you want.

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 It will never be exactly like somebody else but it can be along the same lines. For example, it could be parallel to a look you are after in different celebrities or friends or other people that you want to emulate. Some surgeons are annoyed when patients bring in photos of other people. I actually prefer it, because it gives me an idea of what they are after. It lets me appreciate which shadows and curves they feel are attractive. It allows them to get a feel of what angles they like and the look they want to try to emulate. Essentially it gives us a target to shoot for. Nobody get a bullseye every time but it gives us a target. It is worth repeating; find a surgeon you trust and be clear with your goals.

When the patient and the surgeon are on the same page the patient will ultimately be happy


A good example of this is the new thread lifting and tightening techniques that are out there. I never want to oversell the thread lifts. Honestly, when I started with them I was not a passionate fan. I was worried that patients would not be happy with a small amount of change in an isolated area of the face. The key though is that patients that come for face contouring cosmetic needs are picky. They really are. They know what they want. If we as surgeons are able to listen to them and deliver on what they actually want, then we can create happy beautiful patients. The popular saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is true but we must remember that in most cases of cosmetic medicine the beholder is the patient themselves. We are here to make people happy, to make them feel good about themselves. 


Face contouring cosmetic surgery parallels fashion in a lot of ways.


People often dress certain ways because they think that is what others want. More often than not, a true classic wardrobe is beautiful because the person that owns it is happy with how they look in those clothes. Facial plastic surgery has to be the same. Facial beauty is in one’s own view of their appearance. It is what it is because we want what we think we want! If I can deliver people what they think they want, then I am doing my job!



Last Updated on August 28, 2023 by Dr. Benjamin Caughlin – Facial Sculpting Surgeon Chicago

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