At the time when Caitlyn Jenner’s new look appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair, it made the general public aware of an up-and-coming field of cosmetic surgery. Jenner’s new look consisted of a softer brow line, a reshaped nose and chin and gorgeous cheekbones, all of which fall under the category of facial feminization surgery (FFS).
Not Just for the Transgender Community
Although FFS was pioneered in the early 2000s to aid the gender transition process, it isn’t only the transgender community that is taking note of Jenner’s new look. Dr. Vartan Mardirossian, a Palm Beach plastic surgeon who specializes in this field noted, “Women saw that there were things that could be done that they didn’t know before. Take someone with a forehead that they consider too high or too prominent, for example. They don’t know there’s a surgical solution to it. Everything they know about facial plastic surgery is doing injectables or face lifts.”
Dr. Mardirossian performs anywhere between 40 and 60 facial feminization surgeries each year, with many patients coming from out of state – or even from other countries. Approximately one-third of the patients are women who were born female.
Celebrities are a Major Influence
A survey conducted by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery revealed that more than 80% of plastic surgeons said that celebrities were a major influence on patients’ decisions to have various forms of plastic surgery performed. Academy president Edwin Williams III said in this regard in a press release, “Due to the improving economy and increased consumer awareness, coupled with a growing comfort level with the safety and predictability of cosmetic treatments, we expect the demand for facial cosmetic procedures to continue to expand.”
Another aspect that has resulted in heightened levels of interest in FFS is advances that have been made in procedures like jaw and brow contouring, which involves surgeons re-shaping the facial bones completely. Dr. Mardirossian said, “Facial contouring is among the new frontiers of facial plastic surgery.”
Helping Patients Look More Attractive
Robert Sigal, a Northern Virginia plastic surgeon, says that as applied to women, facial feminization surgery is merely another name for something that cosmetic surgeons have always been doing – namely, helping patients look more attractive. He also mentioned that competition from dermatologists and family practice doctors administering filler injections like Restylane and Juvederm have encouraged plastic surgeons to push the boundaries of what they have done previously. His practice has also seen the biggest increase in using facial fat grafting to enhance feminine facial features over the past five years.
Although the initial preparation to become a plastic surgeon involves six years of training and residency in addition to medical school, the financial end results are highly rewarding. According to Salary.com, The annual median salary for plastic surgeons tops the $350,000 mark.
The best reward for Dr. Mardirossian and other surgeons is improving their patients’ lives, especially when performing procedures like FFS. “It increases confidence and may even save lives,” he said, referring to the high suicide rate among transgender individuals. “It’s really surgery for the soul.”