How plastic surgery trends have been affected by our fascination with ethnic ambiguity


“American standards of Asian origin follow Western beauty standards, but more closely: more contouring, more highlights, bigger, better,” shares Christine. “Whether it’s the cheeks or the jaw, the breasts or the buttocks, everything is very sculpted… [The Asian look] is young and distinguished, sort of fading away as much as possible. “

The procedure that connects the beauty ideals of East and West Asia, apparently, is the nose job. Certified New York Facial Plastic Surgeon Edward S. Kwak specializes in rhinoplasty for Asian patients, in which he says “treatments are done to treat an ill-defined tip and bridge.” In effect, this creates a higher bridge and a more traditionally Eurocentric nose shape. However, Kwak says that in his 15 years of practice, he has seen the globalization of beauty with “more of a mix of beauty standards between the eastern and western face.”

“I often have patients who come with pictures of their ideal goals. In the past, models [in the photos] biased more towards traditional western beauty, “Kwak says.” Now I see a lot more interest in eastern cosmetic surgery, even among my non-Asian patients. “

Social media and unrealistic expectations

Plastic surgeon certified by the Orange County Board of Directors Goretti Ho Taghva opened her clinic in part because she felt plastic surgery did not represent her own “beauty ideals” as an Asian woman. Classical medical training, she says, is “heavily based on Caucasian anatomy which in many cases is not applicable to treating Asian faces.” A few years ago, she noticed an influx of celebrity-influenced Asian patients who wanted “exaggerated features” like large eyelid folds, high nose bridges, and fuller foreheads (achieved by fat transfer). Taghva is particularly uncomfortable with some of his patients’ expectations: huge eyes, button-down nose, and perfectly full mouth informed by photoshopped social media posts filtered through third-party apps.

“[Beauty camera] apps like Meitu have made some of the beauty ideals unattainable, and sometimes quite strange in my opinion, “says Taghva.” What makes me most anxious is the patients who have a bad self-image but also unrealistic expectations. “

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery experiences similar demands. “Something that comes up often too is anime: big cartoon eyes, a shaved face and translucent skin,” notes Christine. Gabriel adds that while social media has reinforced the desire for “refinements” instead of major surgery, “flicking through your phone there are a lot of filters that are very unreasonable.”

Gabriel unveils the logic of cosmetic improvement with each of his patients. Christine says he often reminds her of a “therapist” in her attempts to determine whether her patients are seeking an adjustment to actually benefit their mental and physical health, or just follow a trend. In the case of the “fox-eye” look, Gabriel tries to dissuade those consulted, fearing that the trend will not last. “If this seemed like something that was going to stick around as a beauty enhancement, I would do it for this patient,” he says.

Eurasian face fetishization

Every doctor we’ve spoken to notes that the dominant change in their patients – Asian or otherwise – is age. As procedures have become less invasive and social media has lessened their stigma, the Young generation seeks both to delay aging and, specifies Gabriel, to better “refine” their features. Specifically, a new jawbone obsession has arrived – and nowhere is this more evident than on TikTok. Along with increased interest in gua sha and treatments like Kybella (which reduces the appearance of a double chin), Kwak says that among his clientele, he has seen an increase in the number of Asian American patients in 20s and 30s seeking to reduce facial jowls and eliminate oral fat under cheekbones to shape the face by a heart shape (for reference of a heart-shaped face, see Bella hadid).




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