The Center for Human Appearance at Penn
About the Center for Human Appearance
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Psychology of Appearance
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Services and Programs

The Center for Human Appearance is a cooperative effort among six medical and surgical specialties that have an interest in appearance:

  • dermatology
  • ophthalmology/oculoplastic surgery
  • oral and maxillofacial surgery
  • otorhinolaryngology - head and neck surgery
  • plastic surgery
  • psychology

Dermatology is a medical specialty concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and conditions of the skin, including hair and nails. Dermatologists may see patients who have benign or malignant disorders such as skin cancers, melanomas, moles, tumors and allergic and non-allergic disorders. They also manage cosmetic skin care and maintenance.

Ophthalmology has to do with the eyes and the surrounding structures – eyelids, orbit and tear duct system. Vision impairment, blindness, tumors and diseases of the eye are some of the problems ophthalmologists treat. Additionally, oculoplastic surgery is a sub-specialty area of ophthalmology. When an eye problem requires surgery, either reconstructive or cosmetic, patients see an oculoplastic surgeon.

Oral and maxillofacial surgery is the surgical arm of dentistry. These surgeons treat patients with trauma to the teeth and jaw, tumors of the mouth and jaw, facial injuries and deformities, oral cancers and TMJ. They perform reconstructive and cosmetic procedures of the mid and lower face.

Otorhinolaryngology - head and neck surgery is the surgical specialty that diagnoses and treats disorders, diseases and conditions of the ear, nose, throat and related structures. Facial plastic surgery is the specialty with otorhinolaryngology which focuses on cosmetic and reconstructive concerns of the face, head and neck, including complex functional reconstruction following surgery for tumors and severe trauma.

Plastic surgery concerns the molding or shaping of the face and body. Patients who have a disease or injury that alters normal function or appearance will see a plastic surgeon. These changes may result from trauma, disease or a congenital disorder. Plastic surgeons also perform cosmetic procedures for the face and body.

Psychology seeks to study and understand the part appearance plays in how we view ourselves and how others view us. Increases in cosmetic surgery because of concerns about aging, sun damage or dissatisfaction with an aspect of one's appearance are a matter of public interest and scientific study. Trauma, disease and congenital problems such may alter one's appearance causing concern or distress. Psychologists work with these patients and their families to adapt to such conditions.


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Need an appointment? Request one online 24 hours/day, 7 days/week or call 800-789-PENN (7366) to speak to a referral counselor.

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