There’s a lot that plastic surgery can do. It can shrink the size of your nose. It can lift everything that seems to be falling back to where it once was. It can make the butt bigger, the waistline smaller and the stomach as flat as a board without ever setting foot into a gym. And now, as strange as it sounds, it can actually make a large head smaller. Yes, you read that right—there’s a surgical procedure that permanently reduces the circumference and convexity of the head (above the ears) for a more proportional look.
After seeing a post on Reddit about the head reduction procedure, we were intrigued by the notion of physically altering the shape and size of a rather large head. So, we decided to get to the bottom of this weird science–esque, off-the-cuff surgery. “This procedure is kind of like the surgery that’s performed where part of the lower leg muscle is removed for thinner legs (but a mistake could leave you unable to walk),” says Beverly Hills, CA facial plastic surgeon Kimberly J. Lee, MD. “I suppose, theoretically, this head-reducing procedure can be done, but I think it would be hard to find a plastic surgeon who would do be willing to do it.”
Performed under general anesthesia, the procedure, which is technically known as head width reduction or a temporal reduction, and performed mostly on men, uses an incision made in the scalp (behind the ear) to remove a portion of the temporalis muscle (the muscle, which is found on both sides of the head, is used for chewing, grinding and crushing food between the molars, and is where tension headaches tend to occur). “By removing the posterior portion of the temporalis muscle, the width of the head can be decreased,” says Glen Carbon, IL plastic surgeon Ryan Diederich, MD.
Dr. Diederich explains that in most cases, there should be an immediate improvement, which will continue to progress over the coming months as the swelling resolves. “The recovery would be relatively quick. However, weakness in chewing and pulling the jaw back (retrusion) would be of concern after this procedure due to the removal of a portion of the muscle responsible for these actions.”
For those unwilling to undergo surgery of this degree, a less-invasive approach can be taken. “Personally, I would recommend using fillers over having the surgery done,” says Dr. Lee. “Fillers can be injected below the widest point of the head so that the face looks more contoured when looking at it head on. Depending on the area treated and they amount needed, fillers like Juvéderm Voluma or Restylane Lyft would be good choices, as they contain larger molecules to lift the tissues in this area and can last up to two years.”