Every race and ancestry has a beauty and proportion, yet most recognized aesthetic proportions for rhinoplasty are derived from a Caucasian nose. This means an African American person who wants an ethnic nose job that preserves or enhances their ethnicity may end up with a surgeon who tries to make their nose into a Caucasian nose, which is obviously not the goal.
The definition of an ethnic rhinoplasty is very relative and it depends on perspective. For example, what someone in Minneapolis considers an ethnic nose job may be very different than what is viewed as ethnic in New York City or Seoul.
This sub-set of rhinoplasty is actually a far cry from the origins of the procedure. Cosmetic rhinoplasty began in the early 20th century as a way for patients to hide, not preserve, their ethnicity. It was popularized in Germany for Eastern European and Russian descendants who wanted to look more German. It then caught on in New York City among Jewish and Irish immigrants who wanted to appear more American.
Today, the United States is a country of immigrants, and the concept of beauty has changed. All races and ethnicities are beautiful, and the goal of ethnic rhinoplasty is now creating more symmetry in the nose that blends more with average society yet still identify’s the person’s ethnic roots. More people are turning to rhinoplasty not to change who they are or who they appear to be, but just to improve their nose.
Is an Ethnic Rhinoplasty Different than a Traditional Rhinoplasty?
Actually, an ethnic nose job is different in some ways, and it often requires a different approach. For example, people of African, Hispanic and Asian descent often have a wider nasal base, thicker skin, reduced caudal septal support and a lower bridge. Most people request higher bridges, a narrowed tip and a smaller nostril base.
This requires different techniques than those used with a Caucasian nose job. Because “ethnic” noses usually have weak support for the tip and thin lower tip cartilage, a caudal septal extension graft and tongue-in-groove technique is often necessary to thin the area and offer more tip definition.
“Ethnic” noses also have thicker skin and a higher rate of scaring, so a cloed rhinoplasty with incisions hidden inside of the nose is usually favored.
If you are of ethnic descent and want to have a rhinoplasty, the most important thing you can do is ensuring your surgeon is very experienced treating patients with noses like yours. You should ask to view before-and-after photos, request to speak with prior patients and ask about their philosophy on ethnic rhinoplasty procedures. You should also find out if they will use foreign grafting material, as this poses the risk of rejection. In the United States, cartilage and soft tissue from the patient’s body is usually used instead.