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For the majority of ethnic patients seeking cosmetic surgery, it’s about enhancing their features rather than changing their identity, says Sydney plastic surgeon Dr Darryl Hodgkinson.

Before Rhinoplasty After Rhinoplasty
Before and after Asian Double Eyelid Surgery by Dr Hodgkinson
Before Rhinoplasty After Rhinoplasty
Before and after Asian Double Eyelid Surgery by Dr Hodgkinson

A recent SBS program in December 2013 examined the trend both internationally and in Australia of performing surgery to change ethnically defining features of the face, especially the eyelids and the nose.  From my practice in Australia, which spans all ethnic and racial groups, I do not believe that people are wanting as much to change their race but to appear more multicultural themselves by modifying features which they believe to be potentially limiting or defining.  With media sharing images of perceived beauty from around the world and with increased globalisation of business and communications we are seeing trends develop in many cultural groups toward change in beauty not just in the face but in body shape as well.  Many cultures where a few extra kilos used to mean health and prosperity now have men and women shunning some of their richer traditional cuisine and queuing up in gyms to shed the same weight coveted by their parents or grandparents.  Changes to ideals of facial beauty in an ethnic group, however, tend to be more challenged as “race changing” as opposed to being calorie conscious.

 

Korea is a prime example of changing ideals.  It is estimated that 20% of women in Seoul, have had facial defining surgery, including nasal augmentation, double eyelid surgery and bone contouring of the lower jaw, to make the face less “square”.  This “baby face look” is very popular with young Korean women and almost gives a “rubber stamp” appearance.  The television show noted, however that this change to the “baby doll” face which has become the new benchmark of beauty in South Korea is so widely accepted that it can actually improve employment opportunities for these young women.

 

Iran, on the other hand has become the rhinoplasty capital of the world with the procedure being 7 times more common than in the United States.   This demonstrates the pressure there is in a society not necessarily to want to change one’s race but to conform to an internationalized norm or perceived ideal of beauty.

 

In my Sydney practice, there is an ever increasing percentage of Asian and Middle Eastern patients seeking to have their ethnic features enhanced, especially in Asians, by having Rhinoplasty and Double Eyelid surgery and especially in Middle Eastern patients, both male and female, a reduction Rhinoplasty.  Although “fitting in” is a subconscious motivation, more often, the surgery is an enhancement and optimization of the already beautiful features of Asians and Middle Eastern faces.  Caucasians themselves, admire the beauty of Asians, especially their wrinkle free smooth skin and in Middle Eastern people, their beautiful, exotic eyes and eyebrows in particular.

 

To say that different ethnic groups are striving to be Caucasian, is over-simplifying the trend.  Cosmetic plastic surgery performed by surgeons who have an appreciation of the aesthetics of different racial subgroups, can produce with surgery, a “harmonizing” of facial features and the display of the beauty of these various faces, which we are privileged to appreciate in our multi-cultural society.

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