Plastic Surgery for Ethnic Minorities
It’s a discussion that usually doesn’t come up when considering plastic surgery: What about the woman’s skin color? And yet it really is a factor. Whether African-Americans, Asians or Latinas, women of color have a greater risk of complications associated with their plastic surgery than white women. The greatest concern for them is developing scar tissue and abnormally appearing scars. Because of this, if you’re a woman of color considering plastic surgery, remember to ask about these issues when you first meet with your surgeon.
Here’s the ultimate issue. Women of color have a higher level of melanin in their skin pigmentation. After the woman has plastic surgery, because of this higher level of melanin, she will often develop thick, strange looking scars. This in turn could cause her to have a more negative body image.
However, there are things that can be done to help alleviate the formation of scar tissue in women from ethnic backgrounds. Follow these suggestions as guided by your surgeon.
The most complex scar tissue are keloid scars. With these, many ethnic women try to find ways to reverse the development of the scar following plastic surgery. Since a keloid scar develops during the healing process, there are things the woman can do to offset the effect of the plastic surgery healing process that brings about the keloid scarring.
For starters, as the site of the surgery heals, inflammation begins. Because this is a natural process, the inflammation causes the formation of granulation tissue (a pink tissue that tells us the wound is starting the healing process, usually within the first five days after the surgery). After this period of inflammation, the woman of color undergoes what is known as the fibroplasia healing stage. In this stage, new connective tissue develops and leads to a thick, red line that replaces the fine line marking where the scar once was. This process could take up to three weeks. It should lead to a nearly healed incision area following surgery.
Finally, the maturation phase brings the healing process to its culmination. During the maturation phase, women of color usually notice their scar tissue getting lighter in color, and they notice the skin of the scar is developing a compliant texture.
In this healing process, the development of the keloid scar usually occurs toward the end of the first phase. As the collagen level is boosted, the granulation process proliferates. It grows outside the scar into regular healthy tissue. This process is quite common, especially for women 30 and under. Also, the darker the woman’s skin complexion, the higher her risk for developing a keloid scar during this first phase.
To alleviate the risk for the development of keloid scar tissue, the ethnic woman should consider that the use of pressure garments and corticosteroids sometimes provides some prevention of the keloid scar development.
As is true in any surgery, the key to an optimal outcome in your plastic surgery lies in your ability to work with your surgeon to develop a safe, fast healing process. For women of color especially, it’s important that you have open ongoing conversations with your doctor.