Some people with Asian ancestry have eyelids that appear different than those of, say, persons of European descent. Asian eyelids may have a fuller appearance and can have a skin fold near the central (or medial) corner (or canthus) of the eye. This lack of a “supratarsal crease”, which is the medical name for the groove or fold in the upper eyelid, occurs in approximately half of all people of East Asian or Southeast Asian heritage.

Among the most popular plastic surgery procedures in China or Korea is to get “double eyelid surgery” or “Asian blepharoplasty” to change the eyelids so that there is a visible crease.

But, is this a good idea? People want the surgery but should I offer it? I was troubled by this. I wondered if Asian people who saw me and requested double eyelid surgery were succumbing to a western beauty ideal. Were these attractive people requesting eyelid surgery because they somehow felt they needed to look more like the Brazilian or European models they see in magazines and on television?

To find out, I did a research project where we showed photographs of Chinese women with and without double eyelid surgery to a large number of people. These people included non-Asian Americans, Chinese-Americans, and Chinese persons who lived in China and had limited exposure to western media. I wanted to know if only the Americans found the double eyelid modification to be more beautiful. This study was published in 2014 in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal and has received a lot of attention.

So, what did we find? All three groups of respondents thought that the double eyelid surgery made the Chinese women patients look more attractive! People felt that double eyelid surgery made the women more beautiful even if they had limited exposure to western beauty ideals.

Why is that? Remember, half of all Asian women have the upper eyelid crease. So, people in Asia are already exposed to many people with that kind of eyelid every day. The eyes are considered an important part of beauty and having big bright eyes is beautiful. Perhaps the upper eyelid crease helps create the appearance of bigger, brighter eyes.

Importantly, if you desire Asian Blepharoplasty (“Double Eyelid Surgery”) it is not in any way a rejection of your heritage; it’s a way to help yourself to be the happiest and most comfortable person you can be. And, people of all types would agree you’ll look better!

How is the surgery done? Excess skin and fat is removed during every blepharoplasty (eyelid lift surgery). In double eyelid surgery we very carefully connect the skin to a muscle deep inside the eyelid called the levator palpebrae muscle. By doing that, the muscle, when lifting the skin, also creates the visible crease. The eyelid looks less full and the eye looks more open. It can be done right in the office and recovery takes about 7-10 days on average.

It’s very important to me to always do the right thing for the people that come to see me. This includes making sure that all surgeries come out well, but also involves making sure that the reasons for the surgery are sound. In this case, it was me who needed the research project to be sure I was doing the right thing. Now I can rest easy knowing we are.