Survey: Rise in Minority Patients is Newest Trend in Facial Plastic Surgery

NEW YORK – Facial plastic surgery was once strictly the realm of Caucasian patients but today is a growing trend among minorities, who seek to enhance rather than shed their ethnicity, a new survey shows.

“America’s single standard of beauty – the blue-eyed blonde – has been replaced by images of beauty within each minority group that makes up this country,” said Dr. Shan Baker, president of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS). “Patients want to look their best, but within their own ethnic group.”

The study by the AAFPRS shows that facial cosmetic and reconstructive surgery increased exponentially among minorities from 1999 to 2001. It has more than quadrupled among Asian-Americans (increased 340 percent) and African-Americans (increased 323 percent) and has tripled among Hispanics (increased 200 percent). That compares with a 34 percent increase among Caucasians, who still make up the largest group overall.

The booming rate of acceptance of facial plastic surgery among minorities was tied to three factors, said Dr. Baker. First, a growing middle class in each group has created more expendable income for elective surgery. Second, medical advances have greatly reduced the risk of scarring, known as keloids, among dark skinned patients. Finally, the American media has helped raise awareness that a single standard of beauty no longer exists in multi-ethnic America.

The survey of board certified members of AAFPRS, released at the association’s 8th International Symposium of Facial Plastic Surgery, revealed other burgeoning trends in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery in 2001. The top cosmetic surgical procedures were blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) and rhinoplasty (nose job). The most popular non-surgical procedures were Botox injections, microdermabrasion and chemical peels.

In 2001, the Botox boom crowded doctor’s waiting rooms, with 60 percent more patients seeking the procedure compared to the previous year, the AAFPRS survey showed. Those seeking to remove wrinkles were typically women (60 percent increase over the previous year) and were middle-aged (37 percent were aged 40-59; 18 percent were age 20-39, 10 percent were age 60-79 and 2 percent were under age 20). Patients typically hail from the North Central section of the United States (37 percent) and the South (32 percent), compared to the Northeast (19 percent) and West (13 percent). The average cost of Botox injections is $497 ($519 to see a doctor in private practice; $374 to see a university-based MD; $525 for a more experienced doctor and $353 for a less experienced physician). The trend is expected to continue now that Botox won FDA approval in April to be marketed directly to consumers to treat wrinkles. It had previously been used only at the doctor’s discretion.

The AAFPRS survey also highlighted gender differences between what men and women believe they need to improve their appearance. Among male patients, hair transplants, rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty and Botox are the most common procedures.

Seasonally, the most popular time of the year to undergo facial plastic surgery is winter. This is true for laser surgery, rhytidectomy/plasty (face lift), blepharoplasty and chemical peels. Botox is most popular in fall and winter. And, otoplasty (pinning back ears) and rhinoplasty are most common in summer.

Nearly half of the patients (50 percent of women and 40 percent of men) tell their surgeons that looking younger is the reason for wanting to undergo facial plastic surgery. Men are more likely than women (30 percent versus 14 percent respectively) to say they want facial plastic surgery for work-related reasons, the survey showed.

About 6 out of every 100 women who seek cosmetic procedures suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) – a pathological preoccupation with a particular body part that a patient believes is flawed. Slightly more men (7 out of every 100) suffer from this disorder, the survey showed.

The survey questionnaire was completed by AAFPRS members who are board certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery from January – April 2002.

The AAFPRS is the world’s largest association of facial plastic and reconstructive surgeons with more than 2,600 members – whose cosmetic reconstructive surgery focuses on the face, head and neck. Academy fellows are board-certified and subscribe to a code of ethics. In addition, the AAFPRS provides consumers with free information and brochures and a list of qualified facial plastic surgeons in their area by calling 1-800-332-FACE or by visiting the AAFPRS Web site,