Immigrants undergo plastic surgery to look Western

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An increasingly amount of immigrants in Spain are opting for nose surgery to look more European and adapt to new environment.

12 August 2008

VALENCIA - Orly Cuzco, 28, did not care much for his nose. "The Inca look really set me apart." So this Ecuadorian from Guayaquil, who lives in Madrid, invested his savings of EUR 4,200 in a nose job so he would "look less conspicuous" on the street.

Now he is pleased with the result.

"It's just right," says Cuzco, who adds a hesitant reference to a deviated nasal septum as another reason for the operation, which took place four months ago.

Among facial features, nose shape is one of the most indicative of a person's ethnic origin.

This is why rhinoplasty has become the star operation among immigrants, especially those from South America, who in ever-greater numbers are resorting to plastic surgery to look more European.

There are cases, such as Orly's, where the main idea is to reduce the nasal arch, though more often than not the desire is for greater volume and narrower nostrils.

"Many clients come with the excuse of a deviated septum, when what they really want is to reshape flat, snub noses and soften the features that identify their nationality," says Diego Tomas, the surgeon who operated on Orly.

He handles some 30 similar cases every year, a little less than 10 percent of his practice.

"There has been a big rise in this type of patient in recent years," he adds.

Westernised nose
The Spanish Plastic Surgery Association (Secpre) is aware of the phenomenon, which it addressed in its meeting in July in Zaragoza.

Its president, Antonio Porcuna, also speaks of a rise in numbers of clients looking for "a more Westernised nose." "It's a way of adapting to the environment in which they live," says Salvador Rodríguez-Camps, a surgeon in Valencia who handles around 30 such cases a year.

The nose job, though the most popular, is not the only operation. Rodríguez-Camps recalls operating on Central American women with very rounded faces, in whom he implanted a prosthesis on the chin to lengthen the face. He has operated, too, on people of Oriental origin who want a European eye shape.

This last procedure calls for blefaroplasty, or eyelid surgery, to make the eye more rounded. "This is a relatively uncomplicated operation, done with local anaesthesia," he notes.

It is not very common in Spain, but is seen in countries with large numbers of Asians, such as Australia and the United States, says Porcuna. Indeed, these operations have become a specialty of plastic surgery, many practices being wholly devoted to them.

In Spain, the number of immigrants who resort to plastic surgery is hard to estimate, especially since many opt for operations at far lower prices in their home countries.

But not just anything goes.

For most surgeons there is a clear barrier, not to be crossed, in terms of good taste and proportion of features. "Corrections have to remain within a certain ethnic fidelity," says Juan Antonio Mira, a surgeon in Valencia.

"You can't put an obviously German nose on a Latin American woman, for example."

[El Pais / Jaime Prats / Expatica]

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