More Blacks Getting Nipped And Tucked

Experts say stigma has lifted on cosmetic enhancements

The number of African Americans going under the knife to change their appearance has increased 67% in just one year, according to statistics released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

Between 2004 and 2005, the number of cosmetic procedures among blacks increased from 460,531 to 768,512, fueling the $9.4 billion spent on plastic surgery in 2005. Cosmetic procedures are also up 67% among Hispanics and 58% among Asians.

So what’s driving the spike? “The increase can be, in large part, attributed to greater exposure to the benefits of plastic surgery, a growing acceptance of the specialty, and increased economic power within these ethnic groups. Ethnic patients are reading about plastic surgery in their favorite magazines or newspapers and watching the latest advances regularly on the nightly news,” speculated ASPS President Bruce Cunningham in a statement.

Dr. Julius Few, 39, a black plastic surgeon practicing in Chicago, goes further to say that its perception has changed in the African American community. “Growing up, it was unheard of to even think about having plastic surgery. Back then it was looked at as if [people] wanted to look white.”

According to the report, the most common surgeries requested by African Americans are nose reshaping, breast reductions, and liposuction. Botox, injectable wrinkle fillers, and chemical peels are the most commonly requested minimally-invasive procedures.

The majority of individuals opting for cosmetic surgery are “well-educated individuals who have the means to pay for the surgery” and work in positions “where physical presentation matters,” says Few.

Not only has the idea of having plastic surgery become acceptable but the public is also more aware of the safer, less invasive techniques now available. “Ten years ago there may not have been [many options],” says Few, “but today we are able to offer more.”

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