Macquarie University
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"Big eye surgery" ;: understanding the ethical implications of medicalising Asian features in cosmetic surgery

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posted on 2022-03-29, 01:59 authored by Yves Saint James Aquino
In East Asian countries, the ever-growing popularity of facial cosmetic surgery has generated various debates on the ethical implications of the practice. Ethical discussions are zooming in on the medicalisation of race-identifying facial features, such as Asian eyelids, in what has been referred to as Asian cosmetic surgery. In this study, I first posit that medicalisation in Asian cosmetic surgery can be interpreted in two forms: treatment versus enhancement forms. In the treatment form, cosmetic surgery is viewed as a remedy for "pathologised" Asian features. In the enhancement form, cosmetic surgery is seen as a form of improving the normal, albeit unwanted, racial features. Next, I present the findings from an empirical study that investigates medicalisation and its two forms in cosmetic surgery websites hosted in South Korea and Australia, as both countries are experiencing a growing number of aesthetic surgery clinics for Asians. Finally, I offer an ethical analysis of the consequences of medicalising racial features, mainly drawing from the findings of the empirical study. In particular, I describe how the practice influences individual autonomy and how it impacts on the traditional goals of medicine.


Alternative Title

Medicalisation of Asian features in cosmetic surgery.

Table of Contents

Introduction -- Chapter 1. Conceptual analysis of medicalisation -- Chapter 2. Empirical investigation of medicalisation -- Chapter 3. Ethical analysis of medicalised Asian features -- Conclusion.


Spine title: Medicalisation of Asian features in cosmetic surgery. Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 80-83

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy

Department, Centre or School

Department of Philosophy

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Wendy Rogers


Copyright Yves Saint James Aquino 2015. Copyright disclaimer:




Australia Korea (South)


1 online resource (ii, 83 pages) black & white illustrations

Former Identifiers