Debunking Cosmetic Procedures for Skin of Color

Written by: Dr. Amanda Doyle, MD

Published on: 4 March 2021

There are many advantages (and some disadvantages) for undergoing cosmetic procedures such as fillers, laser treatment, and micro-needling to name a few. And with the rise in popularity of these procedures comes a rise in myths about them, particularly for those with skin of color.

Let’s examine a few of the more common myths circulating out there, so you have the information you need to make an informed decision about any cosmetic procedure you are considering.

The Myth: Filler and toxin injections aren’t safe for those with skin of color.

The Truth: Some injectables like Botox, Dysport, Xeomin and hyaluronic acid based fillers can be safely used in many patients regardless of skin color. Patients with skin of color do tend to have a higher risk of thicker scarring like keloid scarring, so some fillers like Radiesse or Sculptra should be avoided in this group. You should always start with an evaluation by a board-certified dermatologist to assess your anatomy and to ensure you’re a good candidate for any procedure whether it’s an injectable treatment, microneedling, skin tightening and/or laser treatment. 

The Myth: Laser procedures aren’t safe for those with skin of color.

The Truth: While some lasers and procedures certainly run the risk of burning, scarring or creating excess pigmentation if performed on patients with skin of color, there are some lasers that can be safely used on almost any patient as long as your provider is experienced with your skin type. Patients typically looking to address acne scarring, and those who want overall facial rejuvenation, can consider common cosmetic procedures. For these reasons, it’s especially important to make sure you are seeing an experienced board-certified dermatologist.

The Myth: Patients with skin of color don’t need cosmetic procedures, since they don’t age as quickly.

The Truth: If you get genetically lucky and don’t experience wrinkles, skin laxity, and volume loss like most people, consider yourself fortunate. However, we all experience some degree of bone, volume, collagen and elastin loss over time. These are universal changes that happen in all of us. Because we all maintain our aesthetic and overall skin health in different ways, each person should have their own personalized wellness and aesthetic plan. It’s just as important to be on a dedicated skin care routine, and everyone – including people of color – needs a skincare routine that incorporates sunscreen and sun protection to help to maintain healthy, beautiful skin long term.

The Myth: Botox makes the face appear “frozen.”

The Truth: When done appropriately, toxin injections like Botox can look beautiful and natural. It’s important to go to an injector that can evaluate your anatomy and give the right treatment for you, so that you continue to have facial movement with an overall reduction of wrinkles in the injected areas. 

The Myth: Lip filler will make me look like a duck.

The Truth: You should start with an evaluation to make sure any treatment, especially lip filler is the right procedure for you. It’s unlikely you’ll need filler if you already have full lips—unless you are correcting slight asymmetries, in which case a minimal filler should be used. It’s important to consult a dermatologist or other medical professional, and sometimes you may not be a good candidate for certain treatments depending on your own anatomy. 

The Myth: You will look fake if you start doing cosmetic treatments. 

The Truth: As long as you see a board-certified dermatologist who you trust and with whom you develop a good long-term plan, you can absolutely turn back the clock and help maintain your skin once you reach your goal point. A light hand with the right recommendations can make you feel like your best self without looking like someone else or overdone. In fact, with the right balance, no one should be able to tell you’ve had anything done, only that you look even more youthful and refreshed. That’s the beauty of a well-rounded plan! 

The Myth: Once you start doing these types of treatments and you stop, the prior treatments can damage the skin, making it appear worse than before.

The Truth: Just like brushing your teeth or maintaining your physical fitness through working out, some degree of maintenance will be involved to keep the results that you achieve once you reach your aesthetic goal. Our bodies are not static and frozen in time and we will continue to age even if you’re healthy and doing everything correctly. In addition, if you decide to take a break or stop doing aesthetic treatments like lasers, toxins, and/or fillers, you won’t be worse off than if you had never had treatment before. Your skin and anatomy will just return to its natural stage and it will continue to undergo the normal aging process.

No matter your preference when it comes to cosmetic procedures, always make sure you are consulting with a board certified dermatologist who is culturally competent and qualified to treat your skin. You can find the right dermatologist for your unique skin needs with Vaseline and HUED’s Find a Dermatologist tool.

(Photo by Melissa Di Rocco on Unsplash)