Facial plastic surgery is constantly evolving. I say it’s ever-evolving because as a society, so are we. Our opinion of what we consider beautiful now is a mosaic, largely attributed to a mix of worldwide travel diversity and the internet. What we considered as ideal beauty 30 years ago is certainly not the case now, nor will it be the same 30 years into the future. In direct correlation to shifting trends, there has also been a shift in ethnic plastic surgery procedures. But what exactly is ethnic plastic surgery and what factors should be considered when exploring these various facial procedures?
As a double-board certified plastic surgeon with over 21 years of performing ethnic plastic surgery, I have seen the same evolution of patient goals occur among every cultural background; each one is different. The reason it’s termed ethnic plastic surgery is centered largely around unique cultural identities and the vast diversity that is embodied within each culture (specifically African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino and Asian). Each culture has distinct facial structures and features that are indigenous to that specific culture and it takes a great wealth of knowledge, in regards to the facial complexities, to be able to produce plastic surgery results that are directly in line with the patient and their goals.
Ethnic facial plastic surgery procedures have surged over the past decade as more men and women are seeking cosmetic results that cannot be achieved with makeup or over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. For example, many of my African American/Black patients decide on a rhinoplasty to address the look of a large or flattened nose (think wider tip, flatter bridge and flared nostrils). The main goal is to reduce the overall size, so I typically draw from several techniques to reshape the nose. Typically, rhinoplasty involves removing cartilage or bone to create a thinner appearance. With African Americans, the nose’s structure generally has weaker cartilage and shorter nasal bones in which we must augment the bridge to sculpt the narrower look the patient is going for. Instead of using implants, I use a technique where I take the patient’s own cartilage and tissue from a donor area to add volume and reshape the nose. To further augment the overall appearance, I might recommend facial fillers like Juvéderm® or Restylane® to restore lost volume and straighten the bridge (fillers can be safely injected into the tip, base or bridge of the nose, with repeated treatments to maintain final results). In the same respect, rhinoplasty continues to vary even among Hispanic/Latino cultures (who tend to have wider bridges and bases of the nose as well as weaker cartilage) and Asians (who have thicker skin, lower bridges and a wider base). On top of each person coming from a different ethnic background, each person also comes with a unique facial structure, all their own.
With every ethnicity, elective surgery is a choice. The end result is to create natural-looking plastic surgery results that the patient has in mind. There are many factors to consider when creating a patient’s rhinoplasty plan, one that accentuates their individual qualities but at the same time also focuses on maintaining cultural identity. My job, as the surgeon, is to listen to my patient’s concerns and properly address them at surgery. It’s not to put my “stamp” on their results because as with any ethnic representation, corrective measures should be individualized and ethnically appropriate to suit their face. My patients, in the simplest of terms, want an improved version of themselves. I’m just here to help them achieve that.
The face is delicate and should be handled by someone that knows the complex details to perform facial plastic surgery procedures in a safe and successful manner. When it comes to choosing a plastic surgeon, do your homework to avoid disappointing results. If you’re interested in ethnic plastic surgery or any of the plastic surgery procedures we perform at Southern Plastic Surgery, P.C., feel free to contact us with any questions you may have. Stay connected with me, Dr. David Whiteman, on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube for more plastic surgery news and updates.