FIRST QUARTER 2003, VOLUME 17, NO 1

Recent Survey Reveals Increase in Cosmetic Surgery in all Ethnic Groups

IN THIS ISSUE

Your New Year’s Resolution: Give to Yourself

Recent Survey Reveals Increase in Cosmetic Surgery in all Ethnic Groups

Ask the Surgeon / Health Tip / What’s New

Tattoo Today, Gone Tomorrow

People of all ages and ethnic backgrounds are seeking to enhance their appearance through cosmetic surgery. The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery recently surveyed their members and found that in 2001 procedures on Hispanics had increased by 200 percent; African-Americans by 323 percent; and Asians by 340 percent. Where patients thirty years ago had mixed feelings over changes that might reject their ethnic heritage, now, members of minority groups are realizing that facial plastic surgery can refine features, correct disharmonies, and reduce the signs of aging. There is not one standard of beauty, which all persons can be compared; instead, the objective is to look our best and this transcends cultural and racial boundaries.

Surgeons have noticed among Hispanic patients that lip augmentation and procedures to fight the aging process are trendy. As Stacy explains, “I think that my lips used to be one of my best features when I was younger. I am going to have lip augmentation to enhance them. I want people to look at me and say, “Wow, she has great lips!” I know I am going to feel about 20 years younger after the procedure and I can’t wait.” Typical of all races, the lips thin as we age. There is less definition and the lips appear flat. You and your physician may discuss types of augmentation, temporary or permanent (Bovine collagen, human collagen, Alloderm, autologous implants, Gore-Tex), and decide which is best for you.

Another Hispanic patient, says, “I was hesitant at first to see a facial plastic surgeon because I did not know if my skin type would be a problem. I really wanted to reduce some of the sagging and wrinkling on my face, so I went for a consultation appointment. I was happy to hear I had several choices, and decided on a facelift.” A facelift affects the lower two-thirds of your face. The skin is lifted, and the surgeon repositions and tightens the underlying tissue. Some excess skin and fat may be removed before securing and suturing the skin.

The most popular procedure among African-Americans is rhinoplasty (nose surgery). “I have never been happy with my nose,” says Tanya, an African-American woman who recently had surgery to elevate the dorsum (bridge of the nose), narrow the width, and project the tip of her nose. “It was too wide and flat for my face and I was very self-conscious about it. While having a wider nose may be more typical for African-Americans, that doesn”t mean that I can’t change my nose to make me feel more confident. My nose doesn’t define my identity; I’m proud of my heritage.” Rhinoplasty means to shape the nose. Upon incision (usually inside the nose), your physician will assess the bone and cartilage structure of the nose and then begin shaping it. Depending on your needs this may mean adding to, taking away, or moving various structures in order to obtain optimal results.

Characteristic of approximately 90 percent of the Asian race, a single eyelid hangs from the brow to the lashes with no eyelid fold. Overhanging upper eyelid skin makes many Asian patients seek surgery. This can provide a more awake look, may ease application of makeup, and can improve upward gaze. The corrective procedure divides the eyelid into two portions, creating a permanent fold, which produces the more open-eyed look. Other common procedures include nasal augmentation, facelifts, and Botox injections.

While the above mentioned procedures are the more common surgeries seen, people of various ethnic backgrounds are having the gamut of treatments to make themselves look and feel great about their appearance. These increasing surgeries on minorities are due to medical advances of techniques and tools; education of possibilities (by the media and by facial plastic surgeons); and affordability of the increasing middle class to expend on procedures.

If you are considering facial plastic surgery, make sure you have realistic expectations. Ask yourself, am I enhancing or excavating? You want to have facial plastic surgery for the right reasons to increase your confidence and self-esteem not to look like someone else. Remember, there are no aesthetic ideals. Your surgeon can help identify options to balance and enhance your ethnic appearance.

All Are Not Alike
There are innate variances of skin texture and internal support structures among various races. The coloration and texture of skin are important considerations for any type of surgery, resurfacing, or skin peeling. The darker the skin, the greater the chance for the skin to become even darker after the surgery or resurfacing.

Your facial plastic surgeon will take into account your skin type and anatomy and tailor the treatment plan to your needs. The outcome of your procedure may be affected by such factors as the thickness of your skin, the amount of oil it contains, the degree of pigmentation, and the quality of underlying cartilage. No matter what your ethnic background, your physician wants to enhance your esthetics for facial harmony.

Below are some of the identified skin types, each associated with characteristic benefits and challenges related to facial plastic surgery.

African-American
African-American complexion

Benefits: Signs of aging appear very late; fine wrinkling typically does not occur; skin cancers are very rare; post-operative swelling is minimal.

Challenges: Formation of keloids is possible; dark or light pigmentation changes may occur; thicker cartilage is not easily adjusted.

Caucasian
Fair, blonde complexion

Benefits: Skin is relatively thin and handles easily; scars tend to be narrow and nearly invisible.

Challenges: Signs of aging appear early; fine, deep wrinkles may be difficult to remove entirely; initial bruising is more obvious than in darker skinned individuals.

Mediterranean
Oily, olive, dark complexion

Benefits: Signs of aging appear later; skin cancers are very rare.

Challenges: Darker, thicker scars are more common; cartilage tends to droop and is resistant to change; post-operative swelling and oiliness may be prolonged.

Asian
Asian complexion

Benefits: Signs of aging appear late; fine wrinkling typically does not occur.

Challenges: Low nasal bridge may require correction; additional surgical steps are needed to create an eyelid crease