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Trends in “Ethnic Plastic Surgery”

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When plastic surgeons talk about “ethnic plastic surgery,” they’re referring to procedures for non-Caucasians. If you look into the topic, you’ll find that in most areas of the country, ethnic plastic surgery outreach usually targets Asians, Hispanics and African Americans.

But in New York City, as much the country’s melting pot as ever, the demands are more diverse, noted an article in the New York Times last week. And the trends among the ethnic communities are quite interesting.

The first thought that might occur to you is that non-Caucasians seek cosmetic surgery to blend in. Indeed, that has been a trend in the past. As Victoria Pitts-Taylor, a sociology professor at Queens College, said in the article, generations of immigrants historically sought surgery to look “more American.” Pitts-Taylor, who has written books and articles on the topic of cosmetic surgery, pointed out Jewish immigrants’ nose jobs decades ago.

While recognizing that it's dangerous to generalize, Sam Dolnick, the Times reporter, wrote that today it seems patients from other cultures often want to enhance their ethnic features rather than minimize them. They tend to choose plastic surgery to conform to trends in their own communities rather than to look less like immigrants. If they mention an “ideal” image, it’s a star from their own experience rather than Angelina Jolie or Kim Kardashian.

An example cited by the article is Dominicans, who tend to seek buttocks lifts because they favor a rounded silhouette. Dr. Jeffrey S. Yager, a plastic surgeon in New York City, who speaks Spanish and serves a largely Dominican clientele maintains his patients are not asking to look more American. Instead, Yager said they are proud of their culture, in which curves are appreciated.

Doctors who work with Arabs say they seek facial plastic surgery because they don’t want to expose their bodies. One Asian doctor sees patients interested in cosmetic procedures for the sake of long-held traditions such as large earlobes signifying prosperity and large eyes that are an Asian beauty standard.

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