“Facial restoration” might not be your typical form of complementary medicine, but for aging adults, as well as people with HIV/AIDS or diabetes, an enhanced appearance provides a psychological edge that may lead to positive thoughts and actions.

The fact is that real or perceived physical unattractiveness can result in insecurity, anxiety, and fear. It can alter intimate relationships and social interactions. It can even extract a “plainness penalty” in the labor market.

For example, one study of earnings differentials among approximately 600 men and women who were rated on attractiveness by interviewers revealed that plain people generally earn 5% to 10% less than average-looking people. And average-looking people earn slightly less than good-looking people.

Here are the treatment options.

First, no treatments reverse or prevent the facial response to the aging process or highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) used to treat AIDS. However, cosmetic surgery, and an array of temporary, semipermanent, and permanent injectable fillers are available.

A recently published series of articles on Medscape reviews the rationale and the options for treatment.

One caveat. There is a significant amount of art in the science of facial restoration. Good outcomes rely on the artistic skill, as well as the scientific knowledge of the person making the incisions or injections. Choose your healthcare provider carefully. Ask to see the results of past patients. Speak with them if you can.

Illustration: Han R. Kuisle, MD and Winfield Hartley, MD. The Art of Science

8/18/06 13:42 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.