New York’s cosmetic surgeons have discovered a steadily increasing surge of Asian patients in the past decade, with the most popular procedures focusing on the eyes. Whether it’s the creation of “double eyelids”, lifting, or repositioning, the “window to the soul” has been the prime focus for more patients. Studies have indicated that males (Chinese and otherwise) seem to find close eye proximity more attractive.
According to Brett Kotlus, a cosmetic surgeon who has operated in Westchester, Long Island, and Manhattan’s Upper East Side, his 2014 clientele included a 10 percent uptick for patients of Asian ancestry, with males vastly outnumbering females. The majority of his clients sought eyelid surgery, with younger ones opting for double eyelids and older ones opting for lifts.
Kotlus says that the increase in his Asian patients may be because cosmetic surgery is more and more developed and widespread; its popular adoption in Thailand, Taiwan, and Korea has led to broader acceptance and a higher rate of referrals. It’s just more likely these days for someone to have a friend who has undergone a procedure, Kotlus says, which helps grease the wheels for others.
The most popular procedure is “Asian eyelid surgery”. Kotlus says that since Caucasians tend to value and prefer larger, broader eyes, Asians (many of whom are typically born with a folded inner eyelid will sometimes undergo this type of surgery). The methods are, more specifically, the suture method and incisional method. The suture method uses a suture to create a fold above the eyelid; it leaves no scarring, but doesn’t last long. The incisional method is longer lasting but leaves a scar, with full recuperation occurring in anywhere from several weeks to a month and a cost of between $2,000 and $8,000. Naturally, situations will differ from patient to patient.
In addition to eyes, injection and laser procedures for breasts, nose, and chin (Botox for example, says Kotlus) are also frequent points of interest for Asian customers. Some doctors warn that excessive procedures over a short course of time will seem blatantly unnatural.
Among some 20-something Chinese students studying in the United States, especially those with stable family backgrounds and no financial concerns, cosmetic surgery is seen as an investment in their youth. “Among my female classmates, I’d say about 30-40 percent have done some kind of operation, probably 60 percent if we’re including injections,” said a student in New York who gave her last name as Wang.
These students tend to follow the tides, so if it works for one person, others will follow suit. This may especially be the case among female students with the means to make it happen, as they see their peers or friends suddenly becoming more beautiful. Additionally, anyone (and their family) who is more open-minded about these kinds of procedures may also agree to them. “When I first told my father about this, he said ‘correct what?’, but when I brought up my nose, my father looked at it and kind of agreed,” said Ms. Wang, who has undergone a nose operation.
Further, Ms. Wang says that students around her will typically receive their operations when returning to China to visit relatives, or when traveling to Korea specifically for the purpose. They’re often unsure on where exactly they can go for procedures in the United States, which tend to be more expensive or produce unexpected or undesired results.
Summer is the most common time for both vacation and these procedures, where people sometimes clearly return looking different. Some students are not evasive on the topic, sharing information with each other, including putting photographs of the changes on the Internet.
Among exchange students, the nose and eyelids are the most common procedures. Ms. Wang’s own nose operation cost her 8,000 RMB ($1,293), while she’s heard of some using as much as 70,000 RMB ($11,311) for cartilage from her own ear.
Additionally, there are some examples of failed surgeries. One of Ms. Wang’s friends got a nose operation which left it too high “and now it looks odd.” Another of her friends seemed to go overboard with the surgeries, seemingly trying every available operation and ending up worse for the wear.
This story, translated and rewritten by Jack Chen from Chinese, first appeared in the English-language edition of World Journal.