More Americans are getting face lifts and other types of cosmetic surgery these days–and more of those faces being lifted are likely to be non-Caucasian than ever before

A report released in February by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) reveals that racial and ethnic minorities accounted for 17% of cosmetic surgery procedures in 2001–a 2% increase since 1997. According to ASAPS statistics, Hispanics are leading this trend, representing 7% of plastic surgery patients last year, followed by African Americans (5%) and Asian Americans (4%).

The report also sheds some interesting light on the importance of cultural and linguistic competency in the cosmetic surgery profession as America’s obsession with youth and beauty becomes more racially and ethnically diverse.

“Being aware of cultural differences is more than just speaking the language,” explains Renato Saltz, MD, of Salt Lake City, chair of the ASAPS Public Education Committee. “It’s also about understanding how patients [from different cultures] want to enhance their natural beauty. For example, South American women typically want smaller breasts and larger buttocks than the average white American female.” Nearly 25% of Saltz’s patients are Hispanic.

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Another ASAPS member surgeon, Dr. Kristoffer Ning Chang, assistant clinical professor of plastic surgery at the University of California-San Francisco, agrees that some minority patients may feel more comfortable receiving cosmetic surgery from providers who are sensitive to their cultural needs.

“I find some of [my Asian] patients come to my office because I am Chinese,” he says. “They are seeking doctors of a similar ethnic background because they don’t want a Westernized look.” Asian patients are primarily interested in eyelid surgery and rhinoplasty (nose reshaping), Chang adds.
 

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