Aesthetic treatments have the power to enhance our natural beauty or improve minor imperfections that are making us self-conscious. When done right, the results are great; it can restore our overall appearance and make us look refreshed or well-rested. There is also the benefit of increased self-esteem or feeling good about our own selves. 

What is Perception Drift

The other side of the spectrum, of course, also exists. When you chase every line and wrinkle, the face can become distorted and make you unrecognizable. Going too far can lead to a phenomenon called perception drift or forgetting the original appearance of the face after a series of treatments.

What exactly is perception drift?

The term perception drift was first coined by Dr. Sabrina Fabi, a dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon from San Diego. It happens when people get a series of procedures or tweakments and forget how they originally/naturally looked prior to aesthetic changes. 

Perception drift is when a person’s perception of change following an aesthetic treatment is skewed or inaccurate. In most cases, other people notice these changes, but not the ones who underwent the procedure. The way patients perceive themselves is altered as each issue is tackled/addressed, leading to continuous dissatisfaction. 

One example is a patient looking to volumize her lips. Appropriate amount of fillers can give her slightly plumper lips that look natural. After a few weeks, however, she comes back saying her pout could look better when more fillers are injected. This is despite the injector’s recommendation that it is of the right volume and shape.  

The issue with perception drift 

Cosmetics injections and other procedures do alter our face (for a certain amount of time or permanently). And with the human brain being malleable or adaptable to changes in the environment, it can quickly adjust to your new image or appearance after treatments. 

The brain then forgets your old appearance, as well as shifts your judgment and perception of what is considered attractive. Being constantly exposed to tweaked or altered facial features makes it easier for you to favor that manipulated appearance or regard it as more attractive. 

It is not uncommon for patients to request more injections after a few weeks, but this should be considered carefully to make sure that the extra amount injected is still within the natural range. Reputable providers or those with a conservative approach will advise patients to stop if more tweaks will make them lose their natural beauty.

For further reading: Why Less is More 

The alienized face

Too much fillers or extreme procedures can lead to distorted features or an “alienized face”. This is characterized by exaggerated lips with severe crisp borders, protruding or “Maleficent” cheeks, and abnormally high-winged eyebrows. Filters on social media can contribute to the distortion of how people perceive themselves and ask providers for treatments that lead to an unnatural look.

Influencers and filters are not the only ones to blame. Cosmetic doctors and plastic surgeons also play a part, particularly those who are willing to comply with what the patients want. Sometimes, practitioners do it for profit or greed, while in other cases, they lack the ability to make good artistic judgments.  

The topic of overfilled face is discussed in the recent Aesthetic & Anti-Aging Medicine World Congress (AMWC) 2023 in Monaco. Dr. Sylvia shared in a video that this is multifactorial, noting that technique matters when placing fillers. She also mentioned that perception drift is another factor that can lead to overfilling.

Why choose Cutis as your beauty partner

At Cutis, we focus on the fundamentals of evidence-based and scientifically proven aesthetic treatments. It is our goal to deliver quality services that will help patients feel confident about themselves. We do this through patient education and a patient-centered approach that allows us to create customized treatment plans. 

In addition, our medical and scientific director, Dr. Sylvia Ramirez, has a conservative approach and prefers a natural look for her patients. She also has years of experience administering botulinum toxin and dermal filler injections. Our goal at Cutis is to enhance or rejuvenate your appearance, so you’ll look refreshed and well-rested. 

We also use combination treatments or different modalities to address or treat skin concerns. This enables us to take a personalized approach and help patients achieve sustainable and natural-looking results. Some of our popular facial aesthetic treatments include:

Book a consultation 

For more skincare tips and treatment recommendations, browse through our blog. You can also get in touch with us to schedule a consultation with our aesthetic doctor and find out which aesthetic treatment suits you best.