As plastic surgery becomes something of a national pastime, Asian-Americans are proportionally represented among the ranks willing to plop down cash for a nip or tuck.
Last year, the greatest number (39 percent) of Asian-American facial surgery patients opted to tweak their eyelids. But in that time, some 20 Asian women have come to the California Pacific Medical Center clinic of Dr. Edward Miranda for a procedure popular in Asia, yet still catching on stateside: to shear off a piece of their jaws.
The goal? A more tapered face, says Miranda, a dashing doc whose own mug could inspire jealousy from the camera-ready plastic surgeons on Dr. 90210. In most patients he sees, a muscle over the jaw creates a strong, boxy jaw line, which can be shrunk with Botox once a year at $1,500 a pop. But for women where the bone is the culprit, he enters through the mouth to remove a chunk.
Just as with the much-discussed surgery to sew a crease into a flat Asian eyelid, whether the goal of the surgery is for a more Caucasian face is up for debate. Mira Coluccio counsels patients in the CPMC clinic of Dr. Douglas Ousterhout, who is internationally renowned for feminizing the faces of transgender women, though he has also performed jaw reductions on Asian women — and men — since the 1970s. "They want to have a more Caucasian angle to the face ... they want to be more angular," she says. "We've had Asians come in here with photographs saying they want to look like Audrey Hepburn."
Miranda calls the notion that the surgery is to erase ethnic features "total bunk." In fact, he says, his patients bring in photos of Asian friends, Chinese Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon star Ziyi Zhang, or the Korean movie actress Ha Ji-Won. Too bad the women themselves aren't speaking: None of his patients would talk with us, even though we promised anonymity.
With the procedure at his clinic costing $12,000, Miranda says some women opt for cheaper operations in Korea, though the quality can be spotty. He says he has corrected a few botched overseas jobs, adding implants to jaws cut down too much and working with healing the wounds of others. He regularly flies to China himself to do the procedure, discussing his patients' desired jaw lines through an interpreter.
We're praying nothing is lost in translation.