African-American Plastic Surgery: Unique Risk Factors & Guidelines

by Wendy Travis

African-American Plastic Surgery: Unique Risk Factors & Guidelines

As cosmetic surgery becomes a more common practice across the country, African-American men and women are becoming bigger contributors to the multi-billion dollar industry. With everything from breast lifts to rhinoplasty, this demographic is tuning into the many benefits cosmetic procedures can offer them. However, the increased popularity of plastic surgery among African Americans has also led to more concern over the risk factors that this ethnic population might share. We’ll take a look at how the African American community is transforming the plastic surgery industry, as well as some of the risks these patients should watch out for.

Popular Procedures

More than 3.2 million cosmetic procedures were performed on ethnic patients (African American, Asian, Hispanic) during 2010, which consisted of 25 percent of all the patients seeking plastic surgery during that year. There are many reasons why African Americans are becoming a growing percentage of the cosmetic surgery population. Some of those factors might include:

  • A higher number of middle class African Americans who can afford the procedures
  • Medical advances that reduce the risk of keloid scarring – a common risk for darker skin tones
  • An American media that has made cosmetic procedures for ethnic populations a more acceptable practice

While procedures ran the gamut from collagen injections to eyelid surgery, the most popular procedures for the African American population included:

  • LiposuctionThe removal of unwanted fat deposits from various areas of the body, including the hips, buttocks, breasts and abdomen
  • RhinoplastyNose reshaping procedures that usually involve lengthening the projection of the nose and narrowing the nostrils
  • Breast ReductionSince African American women tend to have relatively large breasts, reductions and lifts tend to be more common than augmentation within this demographic

As more African American men and women are heading to cosmetic surgeons for treatment, the concern over risks for this population are also increasing. The good news is that there are steps African American patients, as well as patients of other races, can take to minimize their risk factors and increase their odds for a successful procedure.

Risk-Reducing Steps for African American Patients

There is a degree of risk associated with any surgical procedure, no matter what your ethnicity might be. However, there are some additional risk factors that African American patients in particular should be concerned about, including:

  • Underlying Medical Conditions – Compared to the Caucasian population, African Americans have a 40 % higher risk of heart disease and a 60% higher risk of diabetes. Both of these conditions can directly impact the safety and success of any cosmetic procedure
  • Scarring – Both keloid and hypertrophic scarring are more common in the African American population. The most common locations for this type of scarring include the breasts, chest and shoulders. There are alternative procedures that can lessen the risk of this type of scarring.
  • Pigment Irregularities – Hyperpigmentation, darkening of the skin, and hypopigmentation, lightening of the skin, are both risks for African American patients, particularly during skin rejuvenation procedures like dermabrasion and chemical peels.

While these risk factors are cause for concern, there are steps African American patients can take to reduce the risk, including:

  • Choose a doctor experienced on working with African American patients. This medical professional may be better equipped to advise you on alternative procedures to help you minimize your potential risks.
  • Ask for before and after photos of previous patients of color. This will give you an accurate idea of the results you might expect from a similar procedure with this doctor.
  • Ask your doctor to perform a skin test before undergoing any type of skin rejuvenation procedure that could result in irregular pigmentation.
  • Inquire about less invasive techniques that could offer similar results with less risk of scarring, especially if the work you want done is in an area that is particularly vulnerable to scarring.
  • Talk to your doctor about underlying medical conditions you might have. Your doctor should also complete a full medical history that includes any possible medical conditions and medications you might currently be taking.

African American patients may have additional risks to think about when undergoing any cosmetic procedure, but they also have options in methods that will help to minimize those risks. To learn more about your candidacy for a specific procedure, contact Plastic Surgery Portal today and schedule your private consultation with a local, board-certified plastic surgeon.

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