Dornaz Maraghehchi - a direct descendant of the Qajar Persian royal dynasty and a Los Angeles high school senior - will this week undergo an 'ethnic rhinoplasty' at the hands of Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon Ashkan Ghavami, M.D., who specializes in the procedure for people of Middle Eastern descent.

This young woman is one of many: With the celebration of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, this past Saturday, March 20th, the incidence of plastic surgery spiked among Persian women both in their home countries and the United States. Leading up to and following the holiday, surgeons in cities like Tehran and Beverly Hills put in extra hours to meet the increased demands of new noses for the new year.

Dornaz Maraghehchi will be getting a nose job in celebration of the Persian New Year. Courtesy Photo


"Facial beauty is very important for us. The nose is the center of the face and many of the women are attractive but often inherit their father's large nose that is disproportionate with the rest of their face," says Dr. Ghavami. "As women come of age and are approaching marriage and more independent womanhood, facial beauty becomes more significant. Therefore, for birthdays, the Persian New Year and pre-wedding, gifts such as rhinoplasty are given at this time," adds Dr. Ghavami.

Dr. Ghavami has written textbook chapters and professional essays on the difference between 'ethnic' rhinoplasties and the 'regular' nose job, and is considered an expert in the field.

"The key is to recognize the ethnic features that make that person unique and not create a nose that is 'cookie cutter' and Westernized. For the past 30 years, there have been nasal proportion and guidelines that have been taught to plastic surgeons, but this approach in ethnic patients may create what I call 'racial incongruity. I'm sure you can think of multiple examples among African-American celebrities who have noses that don't fit with the rest of their ethnic features. There are special techniques of using suture shaping along with cartilage grafting to create ethnically balanced noses," says Dr. Ghavami.

The trend of plastic surgery gifting for celebrations isn't unique to Persians; for decades, many teenagers in the United States have received rhinoplasties for birthdays and high school graduations.

Dr. Ashkan Ghavami specializes in rhinoplasty for people of middle eastern descent. Courtesy Photo

Miami Facial Plastic Surgeon Dr. Carlos Wolf estimates that 80% of his rhinoplasty patients 20 years ago were teenage girls, while the rate has now dropped to 50-60% as more teenage boys and older people celebrate milestones with the gift of rhinoplasty.

"I only operate on patients who really want the surgery themselves - if a parent is the only one pushing it, I refuse," says Miami Plastic Surgeon Dr. Carlos Wolf. "I wait until a girl has been menstruating for one or two years and has grown to the same size or bigger than her mother before I consider doing a rhinoplasty, so that I know she has finished growing. For boys, I wait a little longer - until they're 18, 19, because they develop a bit later," adds Wolf.

Dr. Ghavami also screens his patients for troubling psychological signs, and has turned many away.

"If someone brings me a picture of a Caucasian celebrity with a petite upturned nose and says, 'This is what I want,' red flags are raised for the desire to erase ethnic signs and to look like someone else. I'll investigate to see if that person can be converted into a more realistic patient. If not, I turn her away," says Dr. Ghavami.

With so many patients getting nose jobs at such a young age, is there any credibility behind the old wives' tale that noses - like ears - continue to grow throughout our lives? And if so, will these patients need multiple surgeries down the road to maintain the aesthetic?

"My impression after having done this for more than 25 years is that your nose doesn't continue to grow - but as you get older, your skin thins and the support around your nose erodes with age. The result is that your nose can look like it's getting bigger. The shape of your slope and nostrils can even change as the skin around your nose changes," says Dr. Wolf.

Dr. Wolf also has some perspective on the outcry that parents who pay for their teenagers to undergo rhinoplasty often creates.

"Hey - it's better than a 16 year old asking for a boob job. I don't condone operating on children who aren't fully developed, but I've had patients with features or disfigurement that have caused psychological trauma from endless teasing and taunting at school," says Dr. Wolf.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ghavami addresses the controversy that often surrounds ethnic rhinoplasties by saying that beauty is an internationally spoken language.

"I embrace cultural identity but beauty and proportions transcend cultures. We have all heard and read of experiments where infants recognize beautiful faces no matter what the ethnicity. If the nose is naturally and subtly refined, then nothing is erased, just 'balanced out' and enhanced," says Dr. Ghavami.

Tell us: What do you think of Dornaz's 'before' shots? Do you think a nose job would benefit her?