Summary: Statistics show an increase in the number of ethnic minorities seeking cosmetic enhancements in recent years. A closer look at these statistics sheds some light on how race impacts the perception of beauty.


As more minorities are opting for plastic surgery, the question of how race impacts beauty becomes more predominant.

Although Caucasian women still make up the majority of plastic surgery patients, there has been a rise in the number of minorities seeking cosmetic enhancements, according to recent statistics by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons® (ASPS). Thirty percent of more than 1.6 million cosmetic surgical procedures in 2013 were performed on patients of ethnic minorities. This percentage has nearly doubled since 2004, when ethnic minorities only made up 16 percent of cosmetic surgery patients.

The ASPS statistics also offer some insight into which features each ethnicity favors for enhancements. This sheds some light on the perception of beauty according to each group. Excluding Caucasian patients, the breakdown is as follows:

  • Breast augmentation is most common among Hispanic (10.2 percent) and African-American (6.5 percent) patients.
  • Rhinoplasty (nose surgery) is most common among Hispanic (11.3 percent) and African-American (6.1 percent) patients.
  • Blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) is most common among Hispanic (7.6 percent) and Asian-American (6.2 percent) patients.
  • Liposuction is most common among Hispanic (11 percent) and African-American (8.9 percent) patients.
  • Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck surgery) is most common among Hispanic (11.9 percent) and African-American (10.8 percent) patients.

Different facial structures often require a unique approach, which has led surgeons to specialize in plastic surgery for different ethnic groups. For example, Honolulu plastic surgeon Dr. Shim Ching who specializes in Asian cosmetic procedures explains on his website that unique facial structures require a different surgical approach. In contrast to Caucasian rhinoplasty patients who typically want smaller noses or to smooth a hump on the bridge of the nose, Asian patients often seek an aesthetically pleasing nose that is larger. To achieve this, Dr. Ching grafts cartilage and uses silicone implants to raise the bridge and reshape the tip of the nose.

One Asian rhinoplasty patient on the plastic surgery forum RealSelf writes, “I had the typical Asian button nose and I’ve always wanted a more defined outline.” Overall, the procedure receives a 71 percent “worth it” rating based on 43 patient reviews. Meanwhile, Asian eyelid surgery receives a 72 percent “worth it” based on 89 reviews and African-American rhinoplasty receives a 78 percent “worth it” rating based on 40 reviews.

Each racial and ethnic demographic has varying concerns based on their backgrounds. For example, Caucasian patients are more prone to premature aging on the skin and are likely to seek BOTOX® Cosmetic treatments at an earlier age. Asian patients often desire flawless, porcelain-like skin, which can typically be achieved with laser treatments and chemical peels. Patients with darker skin tones seek treatments for discoloration and acne scars, as well as laser hair removal due to often having thicker hair growth.

In an article published by Divine Caroline, Kate Silver discusses how United States demographics are changing. By 2050, it is expected that 50 percent of the U.S. population will not be Caucasian, and therefore there will be greater diversity among people seeking cosmetic enhancements.

When all is said and done, Silver’s article emphasizes the fact that the majority of patients from all different backgrounds who seek cosmetic treatments see it as a way to enhance their natural beauty rather than alter their identities.