Two Chinese-American Sisters: One Got Double-Eyelid Surgery — the Other Sister Opted Out

Growing up as Chinese-Americans in the primarily white Bay Area of northern California during the 1990s, Jenny and Willa Jin were realized their eyelids were different. “If only you had double eyelids, it would make your eyes look bigger and you’d look better,” Willa, now 21, remembers hearing her parents and family members say.

Double-Eyelid Surgery, also known as Blepharoplasty, was a hot topic in the Jin household. Both sisters were born with monolids — an eye shape characterized by the absence of crease. When Jenny, who is now 28, was 18, their mother offered to pay for Double-Eyelid Surgery. “I definitely didn’t feel like she was pressuring me,” says Jenny. “It was more giving me the option and letting me know it would be okay if I wanted to.”

So, in the summer of 2006, just mere months before Jenny started her freshman year of college, she flew to China, where the procedure costs less. (Willa, then 11, accompanied her for moral support). The two sisters, who used to have practically identical eyes, are now separated by a delicate piece of skin. Willa, who has often been asked if she would like the surgery, too, has never felt the urge. Willa and Jenny’s story draws attention to the middle ground of family, physical alteration, and cultural pressure.

According to the sisters, Double-Eyelid Surgery is copiously embraced in Asia. “There’s less stigma around Plastic Surgery and almost none around Double-Eyelid Surgery,” says Willa. “It was encouraged by my Chinese mother and grandmother.” Things may be changing around the globe, too: According to a study conducted by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Blepharoplasty is the second most popular Plastic Surgery procedure following Rhinoplasty (Nose Surgery) in the U.S.

Jenny’s Blepharoplasty took less than an hour and only required Local Anesthesia. “It was really freaky,” she reminisces. “Imagine being fully conscious and having your eye region numbed, but being fully aware that surgeons were essentially sewing up your eyelids.” She went home that same day with swollen eyelids. “It looked like someone punched both of my eyes,” she remarks. After a week of healing, her stitches were removed and her new double lids emerged. “I was super excited! I could do so much more with my makeup,” she recalls. “I still felt like I looked the same, just with a subtle alteration.”

Even though monolids are most frequently associated with those of Asian descent, the trait sometime appears on European and African faces, too. Many critics consider Blepharoplasty a desire to conform to Western beauty ideals. “I don’t think my mindset was that I wanted to look less Asian or more white,” Jenny says. “It was more that I thought double eyelids would enhance my face.”

Regardless, it’s hard to ignore the cultural aspect. Like natural hair, stereotypically Asian features, like monolids, aren’t considered traditionally beautiful by today’s standards, says Willa: “It plays into the Western dominance over the rest of the world, not just in beauty standards but in other ways, too. No matter what, even subconsciously, it’s still an influence.”

An understanding of sociocultural pressures has not shielded Willa from them. “I have felt a certain level of shame in my life. Everyone around me was telling me I needed to look a certain way to be beautiful,” she says. In high school, when she was first beginning to dip her toes into the makeup world, she was frustrated by the number of YouTube tutorials for women with double eyelids. “I always felt like I wasn’t the norm,” she says. Today, age and wisdom have played a role in her decision not to undergo surgery. “Over the past couple of years, I’ve become a lot more comfortable with myself,” she says. “I was born this way, so why should I try to change it?”

Jenny never regrets her own decision to go under the knife. “I had something done to positively enhance my features and it’s made me more confident,” she says. She makes the distinction, though, that surgery is not a panacea for low self-worth. “For people who feel like there’s something wrong with them, Plastic Surgery is not going to completely solve your problems,” she says. “It’s more beneficial to people who are already comfortable with themselves, but just want that extra boost.”

The question persists: How does Willa feel staring into her own sister’s double-lidded eyes from her own unaltered monolids? “At this point, I can’t remember what Jenny looked like before. I was young, I just accepted it.” At the end of the day, she continues, “It’s a personal choice. If getting Double-Eyelid Surgery makes someone feel more confident, I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong with that. Who am I to shame someone else for doing something for themselves?”

“Ethnic Facial Cosmetic Surgery is a personal choice meant to enhance one’s appearance and help increase self-confidence and self-esteem it’s not meant to make everyone resemble Caucasian individuals or look like Kim Kardashian, Brad Pitt, Justin Bieber, or Barbie.”

— Dr. Slupchynskyj

If you are a Chinese-American interested in learning more about Blepharoplasty, schedule your consultation today with Facial Cosmetic Surgeon Dr. Oleh Slupchynskyj, who is celebrated for helping Ethnic patients preserve their cultural identity.

What’s the Difference Between Brow Lift or Eyelid Surgery?

Brow and Eyelid Lift Surgery are both cosmetic procedures that reverse the natural droop, or sag, that occurs as skin elasticity begins to weaken. Eyelid Lift and Brow Lift Surgeries may be partially or completely paid for by medical insurance carriers if the weakened tissues have begun to compromise an individual’s peripheral vision. 

In both cases, you will have the opportunity to meet with Dr. Oleh Slupchynskyj to discuss your areas of concern. In many instances, patients who come in with the desire to have Eyelid Lift Surgery find that it is actually a sagging brow line that is causing their upper eyelids to droop. For these patients, a Brow Lift is actually the best solution for a younger and more youthful appearance. In other situations, a patient may come in thinking a Brow Lift is the way to go when, in fact, it is only excessive eyelid tissue causing their more wrinkled countenance. 

Using precise facial measurements, the doctor will be able to tell you which procedure will be the best for your needs. Sometimes, patients require a combination of both to achieve their desired results. Although these surgical procedures are related, they are not the same. Here are some of the differences:

The procedure: Both Brow Lifts and Eyelid Lift Surgery require local anesthesia. 

Brow Lift: With a Brow Lift, the surgeon will make small incisions along the hair line and the temples in order to readjust the brow position, and remove excess skin and tissue if necessary. In some cases, the incisions may be made from ear to ear along the crown of the scalp, rather than the hairline and temples, requiring a longer incision and recovery time. Many Brow Lifts are now done using less-invasive endoscopy, using a small, specialized camera to work under the tissue line. Incisions are usually closed using removable or absorbable stitches, surgical adhesive, tape and special clips.

Eyelid Lift Surgery: During this procedure, the doctor will make small incisions in the natural crease of the upper eyelid, and potentially the lower lash line, to remove excess skin and fatty tissue. In some cases, these incisions and stitches are executed on the underside of the eyelid to further minimize scar visibility. Incisions are typically closed using absorbable or removable stitches, surgical tape, or adhesives.

The recovery: The recovery for both procedures is similar. There will be minimal if any pain, and possible swelling, and bruising for the first several days. You must adhere to the doctor’s recommendations in regards to post-surgical care in order to reduce inflammation and keep scarring to a minimum. Cold compresses can be used to reduce swelling and pain. The doctor will probably prescribe a mild pain medication to be taken for the first week. You must be careful to protect your healing skin from direct sunlight, and strenuous activities are prohibited for the first few weeks to a month.

Brow Lift: In addition to the bandages, you may also have a thin tube inserted in order to drain excess blood and fluid that can collect under the skin. The bandages and tube will be removed about a week after your surgery. 

Eyelid Lift Surgery: Your doctor may loosely cover your eyes with gauze for added recovery protection. In addition to medication, you will be given antibiotic ointment and/or salve to facilitate healing and prevent dry eyes. You must be diligent about wearing very dark glasses whenever you are exposed to sunlight for the first few weeks after your surgery.

Please contact Dr. Oleh Slupchynskyj to schedule your free, private consultation for more information regarding our Brow Lift and Eyelid Lift Surgery.  

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