Plastic Surgeons Should Be Aware of Cultural, Aesthetic and Surgical Differences

Arlington Heights, Ill. - As increasing numbers of Indian Americans seek plastic surgery to change the appearance of their nose, plastic surgeons need to be aware of some key differences affecting this "emerging population for aesthetic rhinoplasty". These differences are noted in a report in the March issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

"Indian American rhinoplasty patients present a challenging range of nasal deformities requiring careful surgery planning," write Drs. Sejal M. Patel and ASPS Member Surgeon Rollin K. Daniel. Their report highlights important surgical, cultural and aesthetic considerations affecting rhinoplasty in Indian Americans.

Study Suggests Key Differences in 'Emerging Ethnic Group'
Traditionally, few Indian Americans have sought plastic surgery, reflecting a cultural emphasis on "inner beauty," according to Drs. Patel and Daniel. However, they write, "in the last two decades the pursuit of 'outer beauty' has gained momentum, concurrent with the 'Bollywood' film industry."

A growing number of Indian America patients-mainly women, but also some men-are seeking cosmetic surgery. The Indian American population grew rapidly in the last decade, now exceeding 2.5 million. "Most Indians living in America are immigrants or first generation Americans and thus present an emerging population for aesthetic rhinoplasty," Drs. Patel and Daniel write.

The researchers performed a detailed analysis of their experience with 35 Indian American rhinoplasty patients. Through interviews, photographs and surgical experience, they sought to gain insights into the nature of their complaints and goals for improving their appearance.

The findings helped clarify the specific reasons why Indian Americans seek rhinoplasty. The most common complaint was a "bump" on the nose in profile. Other patients felt that their nose was too large, or that the tip of the nose was "drooping."

Preserving Ethnic Identity Is Key Goal
Although they wanted to change their appearance, all of the patients wanted to preserve their ethnic identity. The authors carefully designed a surgical approach that would meet the patients' desired appearance. The evaluation included "morphing" the patients' photographs in Photoshop to compare the "actual to ideal" shape of the nose.

Based on their findings, Drs. Patel and Daniel define three different categories of Indian American noses and the types of improvements desired. The categories are also intended to help choose the best surgical technique; in some cases, the approach is similar to other ethnic groups that may be more familiar to U.S. plastic surgeons.

The researchers highlight the need for plastic surgeons to appreciate international and ethnic differences in the aesthetic ideal of patients seeking rhinoplasty.

Especially as the Indian American population continues to expand, "It is important that plastic surgeons in the U.S. realize that Indian American rhinoplasty is a distinct entity as these patients have specific criteria for preserving their ethnic identity," Drs. Patel and Daniel conclude. They believe that preoperative "morphing" in Photoshop is a particularly useful tool for establishing the patients' aesthetic goals, and planning a rhinoplasty procedure that will meet those goals.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, part of Wolters Kluwer Health.

About ASPS

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the world's largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons. Representing more than 7,000 Member Surgeons, the Society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the Society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. ASPS advances quality care to plastic surgery patients by encouraging high standards of training, ethics, physician practice and research in plastic surgery. 

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