2001 ASAPS Statistics: Trends - Ethnic Diversity

NEW YORK, NY (February 20, 2002) — Statistics released today by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) show that ethnic minorities already have 17% of cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures, and that figure is likely to increase dramatically. Part of the reason is the sheer numbers of Americans who now self-report their race as something other than "white" - nearly 25 percent, according to the United States 2000 Census. Equally important, however, is that cosmetic plastic surgeons now have the knowledge and techniques to help patients preserve their ethnic identity.

ASAPS member Kristoffer Ning Chang, MD, assistant clinical professor of plastic surgery at the University of California-San Francisco, says that his very diverse practice includes Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern and Caucasian patients, each with somewhat different goals and requirements. Asian patients, he says, are primarily , interested in eyelid surgery and rhinoplasty (nose reshaping).

"As far as Asian patients, I find some of them come to my office because I am Chinese, " says Dr. Chang. "Those who do are seeking doctors of a similar ethnic background because they don't want a Westernized look. They want subtle improvements that are not overly done."

Renato Saltz, MD, of Salt Lake City, UT, chair of the ASAPS Public Education Committee, says that nearly 25 percent of his patients are Hispanic. Raised in Brazil by Eastern European immigrant parents, he believes that his experience as a member of a minority population in Brazil gives him special insight into the struggles minority ethnic groups face in America. He also recognizes the potential economic force that ethnic populations represent.

"First generation immigrants are hard-working people who want to give their children every advantage, and those children are growing up very 'Americanized,'" he says.

Many plastic surgeons speak more than one language or have multi-lingual staff to aid in patient communication. When it comes to developing a rapport with his South American patients, Dr. Saltz admits that speaking the language is an asset, but he insists that other factors are equally or more important. "Being aware of cultural differences is more than just speaking the language. It's also about understanding how patients want to enhance their natural beauty. For example, South American women typically want smaller breasts and larger buttocks than the average white American female."

Dr. Saltz adds, however, that differences in cultural ideals of beauty may be diminishing. "More Brazilian women have, in the last few years, been asking for breast augmentation, and this may be related to the popularity of certain celebrities. But, even so, the implant size they want is usually smaller than what American women choose."

ASAPS Candidate Julius Few, MD, assistant professor at the Northwestern University Medical School Division of Plastic Surgery, finds that many ethnic patients who have the means to pursue cosmetic surgery are afraid of the results. "Too many celebrities have tried to erase their ethnicity through cosmetic surgery," says Dr. Few. "It scares patients who think if they undergo surgery, they won't look like themselves anymore." Dr. Few, who is African-American, says he communicates extensively with community groups to help "demystify" plastic surgery.

Dr. Saltz agrees that patient education is essential. "Scarring is an area of concern among darker-skinned patients, and many don't realize there are new techniques to help minimize unwanted outcomes," he adds.

In 2001, according to ASAPS statistics, Hispanics represented 7 percent of cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures, African-Americans 5 percent, Asians 4 percent, and other nonCaucasians 1 percent. The percentage of ethnic procedures increased 2% overall since 1997.

About ASAPS
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

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