How to Avoid Scarring in Ethnic Patients

Posted March 31, 2015 by Paul M. Parker, M.D., FACS

shutterstock_177219263All patients hope for smooth, subtle scars, but some individuals face greater challenges during the healing process due to genetics. Research shows that African Americans and ethnic patients with darker skin are at greater risk for certain types of scars, making scar care even more important if you have mid-toned to dark skin. Wondering what issues might affect you and how to lessen the appearance of scars? Here are some answers, plus Dr. Parker’s tips for incision care after plastic surgery.

Why Do Certain Skin Types Have More Scars?

In general, the darker the skin type, the more likely the body is to form a thicker scar. This is believed to be caused by genetics, skin coloring, and the area of the body in which the incision is made. (Earlobes, arms, the pelvic region, face, and collar bone are common areas for scarring.) Scientists are still researching the causes of scarring differences in ethnic patients, but in the mean time, patients can try the following methods for reducing the appearance of scars.

Are There Different Kinds of Scars?

Yes. Keloid scars are the most common form of scarring in African American skin. Keloids are overgrown scars that are hairless, somewhat shiny, and can feel rubbery or hard underneath the skin. Keloid scarring often expand beyond the confines of the original scar.

Hypertrophic scars, also known as thickened scars, are also common in patients with Asian, Hispanic, or African ancestry. These red, raised, and firm scars should become less visible within six months of surgery, but when this doesn’t happen, it is often due to immature collagen in pigmented skin. These scars are usually confined to the original incision point.

How Ethnic Patients Can Avoid Scars After Plastic Surgery

Dr. Parker has many techniques for reducing scarring in all skin types. First, he carefully prepares the skin so that it can glide more easily into position after surgery. He makes sure that stitches are placed in both the subcutaneous tissue and deep dermis for effective healing. He also uses dissolvable stitches to create tension-free closures that stay in place for several weeks or months.

About three weeks after surgery, Dr. Parker recommends that patients use specialized scar cream and/or silicon adhesives which are proven to improve the quality of the scar. He engages with the patient to make sure he or she is putting the scar cream on properly without pulling at the scar.

If the scar starts to thicken, he will inject the area with a steroid to break down the scar tissue. Micro-needling is also an option. This collagen induction therapy punctures the skin with very fine needles to create a controlled skin injury and improve collagen production.

Learn More About How to Reduce Scars

Dr. Parker can explain several ways to avoid unnecessary scars and improve scar tissue during a personalized consultation. He will discuss ways that patients can improve recovery and reduce scars in every skin type. Scarring is an especially big consideration for breast enhancement surgery; you can see before and after photos of African-American breast augmentation in our gallery.

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