Plastic surgeons specialize in 'ethnic' nose jobs

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Rhinoplasty hasn’t always been on the to-do list for many African-Americans.

After seeing a few African-Americans celebrities with bad and unnatural nose jobs, many African-Americans have become even more hesitant to get plastic surgery on their noses. Yet in recent times many rhinoplasty surgeons are dedicating themselves to preserving the ancestral features of all ethnicities, including African-Americans, through performing what they call ethnic rhinoplasty.

Blacks are not known for getting plastic surgery. In fact, experts report that African-Americans account for only 20-30 percent of those who actually get plastic surgery. It is the least amount of any ethnicity.

“Beverly Hills Board Certified Plastic Surgeon and rhinoplasty expert, Dr. Ashkan Ghavami, said many African-Americans fear that after surgery they will not only look odd, but that they will lose their ethnic appearance.

“A lot of African-Americans want to get their noses done, but due to the prominent stars that they have seen that have had bad rhinoplasty, they are very hesitant to do it,” he told theGrio. “They are especially very careful to get the nose done, because it is in the center of their face, and it is first thing that people will see if it looks bad.”

Indeed, after constantly seeing the botched noses of such celebrities as Michael Jackson and Lil Kim, many within the black community are scared to get plastic surgery, fearing that they will look odd or be facially imbalanced as a result, according to Ghavami.

“African-American patients always say the same thing to me: I don’t want to look like Lil Kim or Michael Jackson, and I don’t blame them,” Ghavami told theGrio. “It’s really hard to reverse that type of surgery once it is poorly done.”

Though at first hesitant, Dr. Ghavami said some African-American patients proceed with getting plastic surgery for a variety of reasons.

“Usually African-Americans who want to have their noses done have a nose bridge that is too flat and wide, a nasal tip that is too bulky, or really wide nostrils,” Ghavami said. “They also always complain to me that these features on their nose look worse when they smile, which is true, because when you smile your facial features are always over-exaggerated.”

Additionally, Ghavami said he also does revisions on those who have had bad surgeries.

“I have handled a lot of difficult revisions for African-Americans in which the doctor either took too much cartilage off of their nose or too little,” he said. “It’s a lot of work to deal with scar tissue and to give them back their ancestral features.”

To ease his patients’ fears, Dr. Ghavami said he shows them pictures of black noses that he has worked on as well as the textbooks that he has written on ethnic rhinoplasty. After he presents this information to them, he then talks to his clients in detail about what they don’t like in a nose job and what they want to have done on their noses.

“I show them a lot pf pictures, and I show them what is going to be done,” he said. “For the bridge on their noses, I put their own cartilage and tissue in the bridge, so they get more height to the bridge,” to maintain the facial framework. “You don’t want to narrow it too much, because it would look fake.”

Additionally, since blacks tend to have very thick skin, Dr. Ghavami said black skin needs to be trimmed down to show the beautiful framework of the bones and maintain the ethnicity of the nose.

Many of his clients and experts agreed that Dr. Ghavami’s work is ground-breaking.

After performing ethnic rhinoplasty for more than fifteen years, Dr. Ghavami has gained great praise from his clients and the plastic surgery community for his work. Based in Los Angeles, Dr. Ghavami has done conferences on all over the world — such as the world-renowned Dallas Rhinoplasty Symposium — in which he presents lectures to other plastic surgeons on ethnic rhinoplasty procedures. Additionally, his extensive research on plastic surgery innovations has earned him numerous awards from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and the Texas Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Yet, interesting, Dr. Ghavami is not African-American — he is Persian. After growing up in the Tehran, Iran — the nose job hub of the world— he became fascinated by the beauty of the noses found among different ethnicities. He has had patients from all over the world seek him out for the natural-looking work he does.

“In my country, teens and nearly every college student gets nose jobs as gifts. It is like a rite of passage in my culture, so it makes sense that I would be interested in noses,” Ghavami said.

“I’m fascinated by all ethnicities, and the beauty of life in the world with the many varieties of people and cultures,” Ghavami added.

Over the span of his career, Dr. Ghavami has realized that noses are very culturally distinct. Consequently, performing rhinoplasty is a very difficult surgery.

“Rhinoplasty is the hardest procedure,” he told the Grio. “More than half of surgeons will say that a nose job leaves little room for error. Surgeons have to do it correctly and take the ethnicity of the person into consideration. You have to be a little bit of an artist and have the creativity to do it.”

Therefore, when it comes to blacks handling their fear of getting plastic surgery on their noses, Dr. Ghavami believes that they should not solely rely on the bad nose jobs of celebrities to make their decisions. He says some very well-known African-American celebrities have actually had their noses done — but they probably did their research so people would never know, thereby finding surgeons who can make sure the surgery is subtle.

“In my opinion, Michael Jackson was probably taken advantage of by whomever the surgeon or surgeons were who worked on him, and his sisters and brothers who had it done probably went to the same person,” he said. “People need to do their own individual research and really find someone who they think will be good.”

Dr. Ghavami is not the only non-African-American surgeon who performing ethnically congruous rhinoplasty surgeries.

Board certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Oleh Slupchynskyj, who is of Ukrainian and Polish descent, started performing ethnic rhinoplasty surgeries after more than a decade of experience. He started performing them after consulting with many African-American patients who were not happy with the nose jobs they had received at the hands of previous surgeons.

“A lot of African-American patients who come to see me ask why did I get into this since I am not African-American, and I give them the same answer — I saw a need for it and I thought I had the skills to provide people what they were looking for,” Slupchynskyj told theGrio. “There is a misconception that in order to be a good ethnic rhinoplasty surgeon, you have to be of that ethnicity. That is simply not true.”

Being one of only a handful of facial plastic surgeons in the U.S. who is double board certified in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery as well as head and neck surgery, Dr. Slupchynskyj added that up until recently there has been very little research into ethnic rhinoplasty, because it has always been sexier to talk about Caucasian rhinoplasty.

“I think that there is a general conception that when talking about African-American rhinoplasty that African-Americans are scared of losing their ethnic features, but in reality, I think what they are really saying is that they don’t want to look like they have a nose job,” he said. “The problem in general is that this form of rhinoplasty has been neglected in the rhinoplasty world.”

From Slupchynskyj’s perspective, back in the ‘70s and the ‘80s, when people would hear about girls getting plastic surgery, they would think of a girl who has a hump on her nose shaved down. However, that doesn’t work with the thick bridges of a black patient.

Slupchynskyj believes that surgeons need to realize that every ethnicity requires different techniques. “Caucasians look for reductions of their hump or top refinement and African-Americans look for less bold nose tips. Caucasian rhinoplasties don’t work for African-American and ethnic patients. That is why black and other ethnic patients often end up unhappy and want revisions.”

To help ease African-Americans’ tensions regarding rhinoplasty and plastic surgery in general, both Dr. Slupchynskyj and Dr. Ghavami said that they plan to promote ethnic rhinoplasty techniques and educate other surgeons about them. They believe that the greater awareness of this type of surgery is, the more likely it is that blacks will not shy away from the idea of getting race-specific nose jobs.