Last February, The New York Times released an article about ethnic diversity in plastic surgery in New York City. The article described the plastic surgery procedures that different ethnic groups, such as Hispanics, African Americans, and Asians, were more likely to undergo to help preserve their cultural identities. With that article in mind, I’d like to offer my perspective as a plastic surgeon about the role of cultural differences in plastic surgery. In Atlanta, I see a variety of ethnicities seeking plastic surgery, and while preserving cultural identity is important, it’s also important for a plastic surgeon to understand the complications that can arise with different skin types.
Going beyond color, skin type differs from ethnicity to ethnicity. According to the Cosmetic Dermatology for Skin of Color, the stratum corneum of black skin has more cell layers and elevated lipid content compared to white skin even though the overall thickness is similar, meaning darker skin is more compact. Patients with darker complexions, especially African American patients, have more melanin in their skin than patients with lighter complexions. Because there is more melanin present with darker skin tones, there is an increased risk of pigmentation changes with any incisions or trauma to the skin, including surgery.
Rhinoplasty (nose surgery) is more complex among diverse ethnicities due to differences in cartilage texture and should be performed by plastic surgeons with ethnic plastic surgery experience. Cartilage is flexible, connective tissue found in many parts of the body such as the nose, ears, rib cage, in many joints and between bones. A black patient’s cartilage is typically softer and less prominent than that of a white patient. Continue reading
People tend to associate women with plastic surgery, but plastic surgery procedures are becoming increasingly more popular for men. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, procedures on men accounted for over 9% of the total cosmetic procedures in 2009 ( 8% more than their total procedures in 2008). Men and women are completely different creatures, and it is still unclear as to why women get more plastic surgery work. Although women do have more cosmetic surgery, the top five cosmetic procedures men had done last year are liposuction, rhinoplasty, eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty), gynecomastia (male breast reduction), and hair transplantation.
While otoplasty, or ear surgery, is not among the top five male procedures in the past year, the need for such a procedure is more prevalent in men than women due to the popularity of contact sports amongst males. Many people assume that ear surgery is performed only to people who have large or protruding ears, but ear surgery can be necessary to correct deformities as well. Boxers, wrestlers, and martial artists often struggle with ear imperfections caused by trauma from their contact sport. When an athlete is repeatedly hit in the ear, tissue between the cartilage and skin can bleed and swell producing a deformation known as cauliflower ear. If this fluid is not immediately drained, the results can become permanent and require cosmetic surgery.
A board certified plastic surgeon can fix this condition by grafting and/or shaving cartilage to return the ear to a normalized appearance. Cauliflower ear can be very painful and make simple, everyday tasks like talking on the phone or listening to head phones more difficult. Patients who desire cosmetic surgery to rid them of these issues need to seek a plastic surgeon that is experienced with otoplasty like Dr. Whiteman. For more information on cosmetic surgery for men and women, visit Southern Plastic Surgery’s website and continue reading the blog.