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Will My Ethnicity Affect My Surgery?

Feb 19, 2014

You may have heard in the media of late that patients of different ethnicities can expect different results from cosmetic or other kinds of surgery, particularly where scarring is concerned.ethnicityblog.jpg


While fair-skinned people may find their scars to be more obvious than those with a darker complexion, patients with black skin are more likely to form “bad” hypertrophic or keloid scars, for reasons which are still unknown.


Hypertrophic scars are usually red, itchy, raised, and confined to the limits of the initial injury or incision. These scars might be bothersome immediately after surgery, as scar tissue is less flexible than skin, so there may be some restriction of movement. This kind of scar tends to get better on its own after two to five years, but some patients may wish to undergo treatment to correct any problems.


Keloid scars, meanwhile, are slightly more problematic, as they tend to extend beyond the limits of the original wound, and definitely require specialist treatment. They are created when the body produces too much collagen in one area, which causes scar tissue to keep growing even after the original wound has healed. Keloids can restrict movement, feel hard and rubbery, and be itchy and painful.


Other problems more common in black or darker skin types are those associated with laser treatment. Many lasers used in cosmetic or plastic surgery can specifically target melanin, a black or brown pigment which occurs in the hair, skin, and iris.



In darker skin, where melanin occurs in relatively larger quantities, the laser’s light energy can be absorbed unintentionally by melanin in the epidermis, which can lead to a higher risk of hypopigmentation, hyperpigmentation, textural changes, focal atrophy (thinning of skin), and scarring. Additionally, if the laser’s energy is absorbed by the melanin, it fails to reach the tissues which the surgeon is trying to alter in the first place, making laser treatment less effective and potentially hazardous in darker skin types.


Although your ethnicity might make you more prone to certain complications from surgery, the associated problems are all equally improvable with treatment. Scars can be tended to with massage with moisturising cream, pressure therapy, silicone and steroid injections. If these methods are ineffective, surgical revision or other modalities of treatments such as dermabrasion or even radiotherapy might be required. In Caucasion or white skin, certain forms of laser can be used to reduce the redness and even soften very firm hypertrophic scars. We can attend to your needs with any of these treatments at Austingraces.


Our surgeon, Mr Fortune Iwuagwu, is BAPRAS accredited, GMC-registered, and has specialised in plastic surgery, burns, and intricate hand surgery for almost 20 years. With Austingraces, you can be reassured that your surgery is in safest possible hands. Call us today for a consultation on 08456 020 621