Explore this issue:August 2013
While Caucasian females still make up the majority of patients seeking cosmetic surgery procedures, the proportion of racial and ethnic minorities—including patients of both genders—has been on the rise in recent years.
A 2011 study found that the number of black patients undergoing cosmetic surgery increased by 7.5 percent, Hispanics by 4.7 percent, Asians by 14.5 percent and Native Americans by 105.5 percent over the decade from 1998 through 2007 (Am Surg. 2011;77:1081-1085).
These increases have been attributed to the growing numbers of minorities and their increasing spending power, trends that are expected to continue in coming decades. Non-Hispanic whites are predicted to lose their majority status in the United States in the 2040s, according to an Associated Press analysis of 2010 U.S. census data. Immigration to the U.S. from Latin America and Asia in recent decades rivals that of the Irish, German and Italian waves of the 19th century.
What do these changes mean for otolaryngologists who perform facial plastic surgery? Whether they specialize in elective or reconstructive procedures, surgeons must learn to be culturally sensitive in talking to their patients. In addition, they may benefit from having a larger number of facial plastic procedures at the ready to accommodate a wider variety of facial structures.
With increasing socioeconomic status, many racial and ethnic minorities have the disposable income to spend on cosmetic procedures, said Anthony Brissett, MD, director of the Baylor Facial Plastic Surgery Center in Houston. There is more global appeal in plastic surgery and less taboo attached these days as well, he added. Factor in the higher numbers of people seeking facial plastic surgery and higher proportions of minority patients, and it’s easy to see why ethnic facial plastics is an ongoing trend in U.S. practices.
“Five or 10 years ago, there was maybe one session on this topic at a meeting,” said Dr. Brissett. “Now there are entire afternoons, entire days devoted to this.”
In addition, Dr. Brissett said facial plastic surgeons see a shift in expectations. “Twenty to 30 years ago, it was normal for beauty to be based on a Western ideal: small thin nose, chiseled features, small lips,” he said. These days, he said, fewer racially and ethnically diverse patients seek such cultural transformation.