Questions & Answers: African American Plastic Surgery and Skin Care Treatments


    Question: Getting rid of dark scarring from acne and eczema
    I am African American. How do I get rid of dark scarring from acne and eczema breakouts?
    Doctor's Answer

    Dear Visa, This is a difficult problem since African Americans do not want to remove all of the pigment but merely reduce the amount of color in darker areas so as to match the lighter brown of the rest of the skin. A white area actually looks worse in this patient population. My suggestion to you is to seek out someone experienced with treatment of darker skin with lasers. This is the only controlled way of reducing but not eliminating the excess pigment. I would suggest either a Q-switched KYP or Q-switched ruby laser for this process. Make certain that test spots are performed first and that at least 3 months is left before an actual treatment (it can take a while for the pigment to reduce).

    Gregory Caputy Chief Surgeon

     Question: Dark skin and laser hair removal
    I am a 21 year old African American women who as of late has had abnormal growth of facial hair. At first I thought that I might have polycystic ovaries or it could be attributed to the 85 lbs I have gained these past four years at college. Others say that the hair is so thin that they can't see it. Nonetheless, I am very self-conscious about it. Is laser hair removal a safe alternative for me? I am not 'fair-skinned' and in my research I've found that the surgery is recommended for people with very dark hair, which I have, and light complexions. I have also heard that hormone replacements might do the trick. I believe that I have solicited this hair growth by removing hair when there was very little growth ( i.e. waxing, shaving, etc). Much to my dismay the hairs have grown back thicker. Which lasers would be best used on me? What is the scar risk? Alternatives? How much would the surger cost?
    Doctor's Answer

    Dear BH, You are looking into this at a very opportune time since third generation hair removal lasers have just become FDA approved in the US. These lasers will remove the unwanted hair with very little risk (when used by the right laser surgeon) and give very good results after 3 to 5 treatments of an area. I would not suggest hormone replacements since they have far more universal effects on your body. Weight loss always helps since hormones are altered by fat in the peripheral tissue. The best lasers to use are long-pulsed YAG lasers of which there are several, the most effective, likely, being the LYRA laser by Laserscope. I would suggest that you find a laser surgeon in your area with this laser. Treatment costs vary across the country. My office charges $50 per square inch of facial skin treated per treatment. Scarring almost never occurs.

    Gregory Caputy Chief Surgeon

    Question: Facial peels for African American skin 
    A few weeks ago a girlfreind who is african-american had a proceedure done which is called skin peeling. Her skin looked radiant,glowed as well as seemed a little lighter.I am interested in the proceedure as well, at this time I would like to know the health effects if any, and exactly what is this proceedure. Thankyou, L.Saint-Claire
    Doctors' Answer

    There are many types of skin peeling, but the two most superficial are with glycolic acid and salicylic acid in a 20-30% concentration. These superficial peels (sometimes called "lunchtime peels", since you could have them on your lunch break and nobody would know you had it done when you went back to work. These smooth the skin, clean and tone pores, reduce pigmentation abnormalities such as sun freckles or melasma and help reduce acne. If done multiple times, they may help reduce fine lines.

    Amy Taub, M.D.

     Question: Hyperpigmentation and laser skin treatment
    Hi. I'm a 30 year old African-American woman who has been battling acne and espcially hyperpigmentation associated with acne scarring since I was a teenager. I've been to dermatologists and aestheticians and received accutane, antibiotics and a couple of years worth of chemical peels and micro-dermabrasion with little results. I'm interested in getting rid of this problem once and for all! My question: Is a laser procedure a safe and viable option for Black skin with my condition and how much does such a treatment run? My complexion is medium-brown and I was told a couple of years ago that lasers were not recommended for my skin tone, so I'm wondering if the technology has improved since then. If not, what other options do I have?
    Doctor's Answer
    Dear Rae, Lasers procedures work very well on your skin color and I perform many. In my opinion, it is the best means of evening out your pigmentary problems as well as improving the scarring. The trouble is that not very many physicians have experience with non-white skin in laser resurfacing. I have presented my techniques at many national and international meetings and am currently publishing a paper on the matter. There is no question in my mind that you can be greatly improved with a laser resurfacing procedure.

    Gregory Caputy Chief Surgeon