Anatomy of The Face For Plastic Surgery Patients

Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery Face Anatomy Blog Woman With Beautiful Face Image

Understanding the Anatomy of The Face For Plastic Surgery Patients Interested in Facial Surgery

If you’re looking into facial surgery it’s important to understand the anatomy of the face. When you visit your surgeon for a consultation it will help you better understand what your surgeon says. It will also help you better understand what surgery can and can’t achieve. Keep reading to learn more about the face anatomy, common cosmetic conditions, as well as, common related procedures.

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When someone looks at you, the first thing they notice is your face. It’s your most distinctive feature. It gives you identity, conveys emotions and lets you communicate with others, letting them know how you feel. If you’re happy, sad or excited it shows on your face.  This is why nearly everybody cares about how their face looks. Many people want to get rid of signs of ageing, like wrinkles, droopy eyelids, saggy cheeks, and blemishes. Others are just not happy with how certain parts of their face look and would like either fuller cheeks, a wider chin, or a better-looking nose. Whatever it might be, you can improve any feature that you don’t like.

Our surgeons offer a wide variety of procedures, such as lifting procedures and dermal injections to enhance your facial aesthetics to help you look the way you want.

Anatomy of the face

Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery - Face Anatomy Blog Three Main Face Sections Illustration

The anatomy of the face consists of; skin, muscles, fat, and bones, from the most superficial to the deepest. In between these layers run a network of vessels that supply your tissue with blood, and nerves that not only provide sensation but also control your facial muscles. We can divide the face into three main parts; upper, middle, and lower.


Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery - Face Anatomy Blog Upper Face Anatomy

This is the region of your face extending from your hairline to your lower eyelids. Here are the different parts of the upper face:


Your forehead consists of skin, fat, and a deep layer of important muscles. The muscles of the forehead (like the occipitofrontalis and depressor supercilii muscles) move your eyebrows, either elevating or depressing them, hence they play an important role in facial expression.

A Forehead lift can help address common problems, like wrinkles. Whilst, patients who have hollow temples would benefit from either dermal fillers, fat grafting, or forehead implants to augment the size of their forehead and improve their contour.


We’ve already talked extensively about the anatomy of eyelids in another article which you can check out. Your eyelids consist of skin and fat pads, which cover the muscles responsible for opening and closing your eyes – the levator palpebrae and the orbicularis oculi respectively. Blepharoptosis (droopy eyelids) and dermatochalasis (baggy eyelids) are two common conditions that a blepharoplasty (eyelid lift surgery) can treat.


Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery - Face Anatomy Blog Upper Middle Face Anatomy

The middle face extends from your lower eyelids to just above your upper lip. It includes your cheeks, ears, and most of your nose:


We’ve talked a lot about nose anatomy in another article. The nose is made up of bones and cartilage. Cartilage is a firm yet compressible tissue – it’s the soft part of your nose that makes the tip and sides. Your nose can be classified into 5 parts;

  1. Radix (the part between your eyes)
  2. Dorsum (also called the bridge, and it runs from your radix to your tip)
  3. Alae (the sides of your nostrils)
  4. Columnella (the straight column between your two nostrils)
  5. And the tip. The skin ridge right under your nose is the philtrum, and its prominent sides are the philtrum columns.


Your cheeks are a very important feature of your face. Underneath the skin, the cheeks contain many fat pads that give them both their volume and contour. These fat pads and skin form the nasolabial folds. These are your most prominent facial skin folds seen on either side of your nose. They are the folds that extend from the corners of our nose to the angle of the mouth. As we age, many men and women develop droopy cheeks. We often refer to this as saggy nasolabial folds. Treatment for this is usually a facelift. However, in some people, the nasolabial folds are very flat, and injecting fillers helps make the cheeks fuller. Cheek implants are also available for those who want bigger and perkier cheeks.

Several muscles are located under the cheek fat pads, such as the levator labii, zygomaticus minor, zygomaticus major, and the masseter muscles. These muscles are responsible for moving your upper lip, flaring your nose, as well as, chewing (mastication). Learn more about Buccal Fat Pad Removal.


Your ears are made of cartilage and skin, and the outer part is called the pinna or just the outer ear. Cosmetic problems of the ears include small ears, large ears, prominent ears, and ear injuries. Surgery can help fix these issues, usually with an otoplasty (cosmetic surgery of the ear) or “ear pinning”.


Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery - Face Anatomy Blog Upper Lower Face Anatomy

The lower face is the area of your face extending from your upper lip to your chin at the midline and mandible on the sides. The structures of the lower face include:


The lips are the most important part of your lower face. You use them to smile, eat, kiss and show emotions. Your lips are made of a layer of skin covering a large network of blood capillaries, which gives them their pink-red colour. There are a lot of cosmetic enhancements that can help improve the look of your lips and mouth.

Dermal injections and fillers can remove wrinkles surrounding your lips or puff up your lips, making them bigger. Several muscles lie underneath your lips to control their movements, such as the orbicularis oris and the risorius muscles.


Another name for the chin is “mental protuberance”. Underneath the tip of the chin, there’s a fat pad that gives it its shape. The chin can be enhanced to look either narrower, wider, bigger, sharper, or less pointy with mentoplasty (chin plastic surgery).

Chin implants can even be used for chin augmentation (make your chin look bigger). With ageing, the skin folds extending from each side of your mouth to the sides of your chin become more prominent, doctors call these “marionette lines”. Fortunately, a facelift can help treat them.


A well-defined jawline is an essential cosmetic feature of the face. The jaw is made of skin and fat pads that cover your mandible. As you age, your jawline becomes less prominent and your “jowls” become droopy. A facelift can help you get rid of jowls and wrinkles and also contour your jawline.

Cosmetic surgeries of the face

There are a lot of cosmetic surgeries that can help improve how your face looks. Even minor changes can cause a huge enhancement in your overall aesthetics and facial proportions. Below are some of the cosmetic procedures that we commonly offer to our patients;

Forehead lift (brow lift)

This is a commonly performed procedure for both men and women who want to get rid of wrinkles and folds on their forehead. As you age, your skin starts to lose elasticity, and this might show on your temple and foreheads. Read more about Browlift – Forehead.

Forehead augmentation

Some men and women have thin non-protruding foreheads or hollow temples. Forehead augmentation using fat grafting or implants can be done to enhance the size of your temples and give your forehead a better protrusion and contour.

Blepharoplasty (eyelid lift)

Droopy and/or baggy eyelids are a very common problem in older men and women. Droopy eyelids can become annoying and interfere with your vision. Blepharoplasty is a simple surgical procedure to remove the excess skin from your eyelids and lift them back into their original position. The procedure can be performed on either your upper or lower eyelid, or both eyelids.

Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery - Face Anatomy Blog Before and after blepharoplasty photos Image
Before and after blepharoplasty photos

Cheek augmentation

A lot of women complain that their cheeks are thin, not big enough or that their cheekbones are starting to show. Cheek augmentation adds volume to your cheeks using either injectable fillers, fat grafting, or implants to get rid of wrinkles and give you perky firm cheeks.

Facelift (Rhytidectomy)

Patients frequently request a facelift to rejuvenate their face and neck to reverse the signs of ageing. During a facelift, your plastic surgeon removes the excess skin and tightens the skin on your cheeks, jaw, chin, and neck. A facelift is perfect for women and men who want to get rid of wrinkles, droopy jowls, saggy neck skin, deep facial skin folds, deep nasolabial folds, and marionette lines, all in one operation. Find out more about The Perfect Age for Getting a Facelift.

Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery - Face Anatomy Blog Before and after facelift photos Image
Before and after facelift photos


A mini facelift entails a smaller incision compared to the full facelift. It’s perfect for patients who have mild to moderate (but not severe) signs of ageing showing on their face.


Big and protruding ears can give your face a disproportionate look, and fixing them can do wonders. Otoplasty (ear pinning) is the cosmetic surgery of the ears. Depending on what you need, otoplasty can make your ears smaller, bigger, rounder, or less protruding.

Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery - Face Anatomy BlogBefore and after ear pinning (otoplasty) photos Image
Before and after ear pinning (otoplasty) photos


Mentoplasty can make your chin bigger, wider, smaller, narrower, or pointier so that it fits your desired look and facial proportions.

Buccal fat removal

This procedure is done for women and men who want cheek dimples. A small piece of fat is removed from each side of your cheeks to produce a dimple. Read more about Buccal fat removal.


Also known as “nose job”, it’s probably the most cosmetically beneficial facial procedure. Even the slightest improvement in your nose can change the way your whole face looks. Whether you have a large dorsal hump, over-or under-protruding tip, flaring nostrils, wide nares, or a pointy or wide tip, rhinoplasty can fix all that and make your nose look the way you want it to.

Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery - Face Anatomy Blog Before and after nose job photos Image
Before and after nose job photos

Dermal fillers

We can use many types of injectable fillers to contour your face, give you volume, and reduce wrinkles. The results of dermal fillers are usually superb, however, injections must be repeated every few months.

Laser therapy

Laser therapy can be very effective in reducing blemishes, regenerating skin, stimulating collagen, removing hemangiomas, scars, varicose veins, and redness. This can help your face look much younger and fresher.

Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery - Face Anatomy Blog Before and after Fraxel laser treatment photos Image
Before and after Fraxel laser treatment photos

Your face is probably the most important part of your visual identity. No wonder why so many people strive to keep a healthy and young-looking face. Now that you know more about the anatomy of the face and the different procedures that can be done to enhance your looks, you can discuss your concerns more thoroughly with your plastic surgeon, and describe exactly what you want to achieve.


Last updated: 13/06/2022
Author profile image
Dr Richard Sackelariou - MBBS, BMedSc, FRACS (Plast)
Dr Richard Sackelariou, MBBS, FRACS/FRCS, is a leading Sydney Specialist Plastic, Cosmetic & Reconstructive Surgeon who sees patients in two locations: Double Bay, Sydney and Melbourne VIC (Australia). Dr Sackelariou offers extensive experience in attaining natural-looking, excellent surgical results for patients of all ages. Graduate of Sydney University, FRACS, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery plus additional training in Cosmetic Surgery in Paris at the Clinique Turin in 1994. BIO PAGE: Click here

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What to do next?

Our Patient Liaison Team can assist with any questions you may have when considering a procedure. You can send in an enquiry form below or call our Melbourne Clinic between 9 am – 5 pm Monday to Friday.

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Disclaimer: Results depend on individual patient circumstances and can vary significantly. Results may also be impacted by a variety of factors including your lifestyle, weight, nutritional intake and overall health. Consult your Specialist Plastic Surgeon for details. This information is general in nature and is not intended to be medical advice nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Surgery risks and complications will be covered in detail during a consultation with your Surgeon.