The role of race in plastic surgery

The role of race in plastic surgery
Race can influence which area a patient seeks to improve, which procedures he or she undergoes, and it can also help predict risks and complications associated with some surgeries.

A person's ethnicity can affect his or her plastic surgery experience in a number of ways. Race can influence which area a patient seeks to improve, which procedures he or she undergoes, and it can also help predict risks and complications associated with some surgeries.

Common procedures by ethnicity
More than 100 years ago when plastic surgery was a new option, certain procedures were popular with some ethnicities so they could appear more "American," Queens College professor Victoria Pitts-Taylor told The New York Times. For example, those who immigrated from Ireland and Europe typically requested ear surgeries and nose reshaping surgeries, respectively, to blend in with their neighbors.

Today, those procedures are still popular, according to New York Magazine. While motivations and techniques have evolved over time​, certain surgeries remain popular among specific demographics. Eyelid surgeries and forehead adjustments are frequent among people of Asian descent, and nose surgeries are not uncommon among African Americans, the news source reported. 

Race-related risks
Not only can race influence the type of treatment requested, but it can also be a factor in potential risks and complications. For example, laser hair removal works best on light skin and dark hair, as the laser is able to more easily identify individual hair when there's a clear contrast in color, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. As a result, race can influence one's decision to seek the treatment. People with dark skin, for example, need to be especially cautious with the treatment, and may consider other methods of hair removal. Before going under the laser, check with equipment is available, as certain devices are better suited for darker skin - a qualified professional will be able to explain the differences. 

A person's ethnicity can also make him or her more prone to postoperative risks, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Older African American and Hispanic patients, for example, have a greater risk of complications. Lead author J. Margo Brooks Carthon​, Ph.D., attributed this to patients' preexisting medical conditions, which have been shown to correlate with race. She noted that medical conditions should always be considered before deciding on a procedure, and caution should be taken on these individuals following an surgery.

Every patient has his or her own set of risk factors when it comes to plastic surgery or non-invasive procedures, so consulting with a board-certified plastic surgeon or medical professional is an essential step in the process - regardless of race.