The findings come from David C. Pearson, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., and Peter Adamson, MD, FRCSC, of the University of Toronto in Ontario.
Pearson and Adamson studied 27 people planning to get plastic surgery to reduce their nose size and 15 people who were content with their natural noses.
The study looked at whether the two groups had different standards for the "ideal" nose and how much each group's preferences varied from an average nose. The researchers wanted to investigate if patients undergoing nasal plastic surgery had an altered perception of what the ideal nose was compared with the general population.
Participants looked at pictures of a white woman's facial profile and rated the images for several variables. The pictures were made by electronically morphing photos of 12 white women and then altering the nose's size, tip, scoops, and bumps.
Both groups preferred the same nasal profile, which was slightly different from the average nose presented in the pictures. The winning nose had a little more of a scoop and upturn, and was a bit smaller than the average.
That's not necessarily the perfect nose for everyone, but the one judged to look best on that particular face.
The results show that people considering nose-reduction surgery, or reduction rhinoplasty, have similar standards for judging noses as everyone else. "This study demonstrates that little difference exists between the idealized nose in the mind of the public and in the mind of the rhinoplasty patient," the researchers write in the Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery.