Thursday, October 1, 2015

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder - Where You Live

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With modern globalization the most popular films and products are pretty much the same all over the world. Individuals now travel far from home for plastic surgery. That is called medical tourism. At first glance it seems we have reached a global agreement on what beauty consists of. On closer examination we find that is not true.

A survey of 214 Plastic Surgeons from 69 different countries, published in June 2015, revealed that  these surgeons had significantly different preferences for upper breast fullness, areola size in the natural breast, and areola size in the augmented breast based on the country they lived in and their age and independent of their ethnic background. The survey was performed by showing the surgeons computer images that they could make direct adjustments to. Surgeons from India preferred the most full look, while surgeons from France preferred the least upper-breast fullness. Brazilian surgeons preferred the largest areola size, both in natural breasts and in breasts with implants, while German surgeons preferred the smallest areola size. Older surgeons preferred less upper breast fullness and larger areola size.

It turns out it's not just the surgeons. In another study commissioned Fractl to investigate perceptions of beauty around the world. Fractl contacted 18 designers (14 women and 4 men) in 18 different countries on 5 different continents and gave them a photo of a woman to Photoshop and retouch to modify haircolor, clothes, shape and form to make her more attractive to citizens of their respective countries.

  Full-sized Photoshopped images:

Not only were the body shapes and facial features changed, but the clothing (underwear, boots, etc.), hair and skin color were also altered. While countries like Columbia and Spain returned an image similar to the original, others — including the U.S., Argentina and the Philippines — show an exaggerated form of the classic hourglass figure and still others — Italy and China — are the thinnest “preferred” body types. The Netherlands seems to prefer boots and red hair. Egypt, Venezuela and Mexico prefer darker hair. What is concerning is that China and Italy prefer an anorectic or starved body shape.

A follow up study is pending for a photo of a man.

Unfortunately the Plastic Surgeon survey did not overlap sufficiently with designer survey in terms of country lived in. The take home message however is in an increasingly global environment, cultural differences and international variability must be considered when defining plastic surgery goals and outcomes. When both the plastic surgeon and the patient are able to adequately and effectively communicate their preferences to each other, they will be more successful at achieving satisfying results and patients will more likely choose the right surgeon for their needs.

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