How Ethnic Traits Affect Plastic Surgery

By Chuma Chike-Obi, MD October 29, 2014 6 Comments

ethnic traits and plastic surgery

One of the fastest growing segments of consumer demand for plastic surgery procedures stems from ethnic patients. Increases in media coverage, improved technology, and advances in the field have supported this rise in demand.

Overall, non-Caucasian patients have similar goals as their Caucasian counterparts: reducing the visual impact of aging, tone and tightening their body, and enhance their overall esthetic.

However, many patients of ethnic backgrounds do have an addition to their agenda: maintaining their natural ethnic characteristics. For example, in previous articles we covered the national debate on eyelid surgery among Asian Americans as well as the practices and issues involved in ethnic rhinoplasty.

The cosmetic industry has embraced this demand by developing techniques and principles that provide enhancement while preserving ethnic features. Experienced plastic surgeons realize that every face is unique in bone structure, and thus applies a different form of treatment to preserve cultural traits rather than applying all patients to a European standard of beauty.

Risks and Complications

Compared to Caucasian patients, ethnic patients tend to have an increased susceptibility to two risks: scarring and pigmentation issues.

  • Scarring: Ethnic patients with darker skin have increased chances of developing keloids or hypertrophic scars post-surgery. These scars manifest as thick, raised tissue around the incision line and can be very noticeable. Skilled surgeons can minimize scarring by utilizing less invasive techniques and placing their incisions in less visible areas.
  • Pigmentation Issues: Ethnic patients are also more at risk for developing hypopigmentation (lightening of the skin) or hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) from chemical peels, laser based treatments, and exfoliation. Typically, the patient’s skin can be tested before a procedure they undergo a cosmetic procedure to determine their risk level.

Interesting Statistics

There has been a significant surge in demand for plastic surgery from ethnic groups within the U.S. In 2010, 25% of all procedures where performed on ethnic patients. Here are some statistics on ethnic plastic surgery provided by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons:

  • Hispanic Americans led all ethnic groups in undergoing plastic surgery procedures in 2010 with a total of 1.5 million procedures (11% of all procedures completed in the U.S.). Procedures in demand from this group include liposuction, nose reshaping, and breast augmentation.
  • African Americans accounted for 8% of all plastic surgery procedures in 2010 (over 1 million procedures). Most common procedures from this group included nose reshaping, liposuction, and breast reduction.
  • Asian Americans underwent 761,000 plastic surgery procedures in 2010; making up 6% of all surgeries performed within that year. The most common plastic surgery procedures requested included eyelid surgery, nose reshaping, and breast augmentation.

Tips on Choosing Your Plastic Surgeon

When considering plastic surgery prospective patients should choose a surgeon who has first-hand experience performing the requested procedure(s) on their skin types and ethnically sensitive areas. Ask the surgeon you are considering for details on their previous experience. You can even request before and after images showcasing your desired procedure on individuals of the same race.

Finally, during your pre-surgery consultation discuss your goals in detail with your surgeon to ensure you’re on the same page in terms of the final result. A common factor amongst successful surgeries is communication: the more communication between patient and surgeon, the higher the chance of a result that meets or exceeds the patient’s expectation.


Chuma Chike-Obi, MD

Chuma Chike-Obi, MD completed a 6 year residency with the Division of Plastic Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine and Affiliate hospitals in Houston, Texas. Dr. Chike-Obi specializes in cosmetic surgery, including facelift, blepharoplasty, breast augmentation, liposuction, rhinoplasty, and reconstructive breast surgery.


6 Responses to “How Ethnic Traits Affect Plastic Surgery”

  1. Deanna J. says:

    It’s really interesting how different ethnicities get certain specific plastic surgical procedures. It’s really interesting that Asian Americans get eyelid surgery and nose reshaping. What are they trying to achieve by getting eyelid surgery? That seems like a really odd body part to have surgery to correct.

  2. Deidre says:

    Very nice article, exactly what I needed!

  3. Gracen says:

    Do you offer ethnic rhinoplasty? I’m African American and am hoping to make my nose smaller and/or remove the hump.

  4. Tyree says:

    Thanks for sharing, this is very helpful.

  5. Mattie says:

    wow this is great!

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