African American Skin Overview

Before and after oblique image of Thermage treatment on a female's face performed by Leysin Fletcher, PA-C, at our San Diego med spa

The skin comes in a wide spectrum of colors and textures. While many skin conditions don’t discriminate based on tone, some skin types are more susceptible to particular conditions. This is true of African-American skin, which is more vulnerable to concerns like hyperpigmentation and acne. Further complicating this fact is that many common dermatology treatments are not always safe or effective for African-American skin.

At Cosmetic Laser Dermatology in San Diego, our exceptional cosmetic and medical dermatology specialists are experts in diagnosing and treating skin conditions for all skin types, including ethnic skin concerns. In addition to our office treatments, we offer a wide range of professional skin care products you can use at home to maintain a healthy, beautiful complexion. We will help you design a personalized treatment program that combines professional office treatments and home skin care to keep your skin looking and feeling its absolute best.

Tips for Caring for African American Skin

The increased melanin levels in African-American skin can be both a benefit and detriment. While the melanin may ward off early signs of aging, it can create significant pigmentation concerns. These tips will help you keep your skin in top condition through every season of life:

  • Keep wrinkles to a minimum – African-American skin tends to form fewer rhytides or wrinkles. You might also notice your skin is less vulnerable to drooping and sagging, particularly in the upper portion of the face. These differences can help you look younger, much longer than some of your Caucasian friends.
  • Don’t be shy about the moisturizer – Some studies suggest African-American skin may lose moisture faster than other skin types, which can lead to an ashy appearance. Combat this trend by applying moisturizer liberally to the skin daily – look for those that contain hyaluronic acid or glycerin for the greatest benefit.
  • Practice proper sun protection – While African-American skin may be less prone to skin cancer when it does occur, it is often more deadly than it is for other skin tones. Sun exposure can also lead to other concerns like pigmentation irregularities like melasma. Always wear sunscreen when you are outdoors to protect your skin from potential damage.
  • Guard against pigmentation issues – Since African-American skin is more vulnerable to pigmentation issues, treat potential problems early and aggressively to ensure they don’t become worse. For example, address acne in its earliest stages to avoid scarring and the subsequent hyperpigmentation that often occurs. See a doctor who has expertise in darker skin tones to ensure your treatments are both safe and effective.

Schedule a consultation at our San Diego medical spa today.

Our doctors are experts at treating all skin types and tone, including the unique needs and concerns of African-American skin. We are currently taking new patients, so let us help you assess your skin and create a personalized skin care plan just for you!

 

What to Expect

Before and after front image of Botox treatment on a male's glabellar lines performed by Dr. Wu at our San Diego medical clinic

Darker skin is more sensitive to pigmentation changes, which may be triggered by a variety of factors, such as insect bites, skincare products, or even improperly administered cosmetic treatments that lead to skin trauma. Laser surgery and Botox injections are two common examples of procedures that carry this risk.

No matter what your concerns and goals might be, you need a customized approach to your African-American dermatology treatment. The right treatment, at the right time, can substantially enhance the look and health of your skin while minimizing potential risks. The experts at our San Diego office are prepared to help you create the personalized plan that works best for you.

Common Skin Conditions for Darker Skin Tones

Pigment Changes

Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation or PIH is a common issue for people of African American descent. PIH is skin darkening as a reaction to trauma. It is common if you have a dark complexion and have suffered a cut or burn. It can also occur due to disorders like eczema or acne. To avoid PIH, never pick at your skin, treat it with abrasive chemicals, or scrub it harshly. If PIH is a concern, we offer laser treatments that are both safe and effective for African American skin.

AcneBefore and after front image of Intracel treatment on a male's cheeks performed by Dr. Wu at our San Diego medical spa

Just as with people in general, the most common African-American skin problem is acne. Due to the unique sensitivities inherent in African American skin, acne outbreaks tend to be more severe and result in heavy scarring, inflammation, and raised nodules that can lead to scarring. Usually, acne in African Americans requires different treatment therapies to produce the best results.

Scars

African Americans are susceptible to two types of scars: keloid and hypertrophic scars. A keloid scar is raised, resembling a bump on the skin surface, and it may be itchy and sensitive. Hypertrophic scars are similar, but they are usually depressed rather than raised. Scar treatments often require a combination approach, using devices customized to the patient’s specific concerns and skin tone.

Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra

Dermatosis papulosa nigra or DPN is a condition that affects African American skin. It is characterized by the formation of small, hyperpigmentation papules that often appear in clusters around the cheekbones or eyes. The spots are not a serious medical concern, but they can be embarrassing from a cosmetic perspective. We offer laser treatments to eliminate DPN and help you achieve clearer skin.

Café-au-Lait Macules

While café-au-lait macules can occur with any skin type, they are particularly prevalent among patients of African American descent. The brown spots are typically present at birth and can vary in size. Like DPN, café-au-lait macules are not a medical concern, but they can be a cosmetic nuisance. These marks can often be removed using the appropriate laser device for the patient’s skin tone.

Pseudofolliculitis Barbae

Commonly known as razor bumps, this condition occurs when the hair on the neck and chin curves back into the skin, causing inflammation and breakouts. It is a common problem for African American men with tightly curled hair. These men can consider laser hair removal to eliminate the need to shave and the potentially painful side effects of this condition.

Melanoma

Due to the amount of melanin, African Americans are less susceptible to skin cancer than those with lighter complexions. However, this is not to say that African-Americans don’t get skin cancer and should not take the same precautions against sun damage as those with lighter skin tones. Interestingly enough, the body parts most vulnerable to the development of melanomas are where the skin is lightest, such as the soles of your feet and your palms.

Treatment Options for African American Skin

At Cosmetic Laser Dermatology, we offer numerous treatment options that are both safe and effective for African American skin. Some of the options at our San Diego medical spa include:

Injectable Treatments

We offer a selection of neuromodulators and dermal fillers for anti-aging and facial contouring. Neuromodulators reduce the appearance of wrinkles by relaxing facial muscles that form them. Botox is also a popular treatment for masseter reduction or jaw slimming. Dermal fillers are placed into the dermal layers to smooth out wrinkles or restore youthful volume in key areas. These injectable treatments are highly effective and safe for use on all skin types and tones.

forehead wrinkle injections botox sd

Picosecond Lasers

These rapid-pulse lasers are effective in treating hyperpigmentation and brown spots caused by sun damage on all skin types, including African American skin. Picosecond lasers are also considered the gold standard in laser tattoo removal. Cosmetic Laser Dermatology has three different picosecond lasers. This selection allows us to personalize all our treatments to achieve the best possible results.

Clear + Brilliant Permea Laser

The Clear + Brilliant laser is used to rejuvenate the skin while reducing visible signs of aging. It is also a highly effective treatment for melasma, a common complaint among our African American patients. This laser is safe and effective for all skin types and tones, including African American skin.

Ultherapy

Ultherapy is a skin tightening treatment that uses targeted ultrasound energy to reverse skin laxity. The device constricts underlying tissue and boosts collagen production for skin that is firmer and more youthful. Because the ultrasound energy is delivered deep beneath the skin’s surface, it is both safe and effective for darker skin tones. Ultherapy can be used on any area of the face to address skin laxity and create a smoother, more radiant complexion.

Thermage

Thermage is a device that uses radiofrequency energy to constrict tissue and increase collagen levels. Like Ultherapy, this device works deep in the dermal layers, making it a safe and effective option for all skin types and tones. Both of these devices are particularly useful in tightening and firming skin on the face.

RF Microneedling

Radiofrequency microneedling is a treatment that creates tiny micro-channels in the skin to trigger the healing process and collagen production. As the skin renews at the cellular level, the skin becomes smoother and healthier. RF microneedling is an effective method of treating both acne and acne scarring in our patients with skin of color and can be used for reducing pore size and improving skin texture as well.

Kybella

Kybella is a nonsurgical method of eliminating submental fat underneath the chin. When Kybella is injected into the treatment area, it destroys fat cells so the body can safely remove them. It is common for patients to need a series of treatment sessions, and results develop in the months following your injections.

Body Contouring

African American patients also have body contouring options available at Cosmetic Laser Dermatology in San Diego. CoolSculpting and CoolToning both offer safe body sculpting solutions for our patients. CoolSculpting uses controlled cooling to freeze fat cells, which are then eliminated naturally by the body. The treatment is safe for nearly any area of the body where stubborn pockets of fat have formed. CoolToning is a newer device that works by simulating thousands of crunches in a single treatment. The result of a CoolToning session is a tighter, more sculpted abdomen.

Treating African American skin can be more challenging, but today, there are many good treatment options available. At Cosmetic Laser Dermatology, we have the devices, expertise, and experience to customize your procedures so you can achieve the best possible results.

 

 

 

Photos

Fillers and Botox for facial contouring by Dr. Fabi. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Fillers and Botox for Facial Contouring by Dr. Fabi
Fillers and Botox for facial contouring by Dr. Fabi. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Fillers and Botox for Facial Contouring by Dr. Fabi
Fillers and Botox for facial contouring by Dr. Fabi. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Fillers and Botox for Facial Contouring by Dr. Fabi
Filler and Botox for facial contouring by Dr. Fabi. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Filler and Botox for Facial Contouring by Dr. Fabi
Fillers and Botox for facial contouring by Dr. Fabi. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Filler and Botox for Facial Contouring by Dr. Fabi
Intracel RF microneedling for treatment of hyperpigmentation by Dr. Wu. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Intracel RF Microneedling to treat hyperpigmentation by Dr. Wu
Intracel RF microneedling for treatment of hyperpigmentation by Dr. Wu. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Intracel RF microneedling for treating hyperpigmentation by Dr. Wu
Actual un-retouched patient before and after Thermage to tighten skin by Leysin Fletcher, PA-C. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Before and after Thermage treatment to rejuvenate skin by Leysin Fletcher, PA-C
Actual un-retouched patient before and after Thermage skin tightening by Leysin Fletcher, PA-C. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Before and after Thermage for skin tightening by Leysin Fletcher, PA-C
Actual un-retouched patient before and after Thermage for skin tightening  by Leysin Fletcher, PA-C. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Before and after Thermage for skin tightening by Leysin Fletcher, PA-C
Actual un-retouched patient before and after Coolsculpting treatment to the abdomen by Dr. Wu. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed Before and after Coolsculpting to sculpt the abdomen by Dr. Wu
Actual un-retouched patient before and after Vitrase treatment to reverse HA filler in tear troughs by Dr. Groff. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Before and after Vitrase treatment to reverse HA filler in tear troughs by Dr. Groff
Actual un-retouched patient before and after filler injections to augment the lips by Dr. Groff. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Before and after filler injections to augment the lips by Dr. Groff
Actual un-retouched patient before and after Botox injections to treat glabellar lines by Dr. Wu. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Before and after Botox injections to treat glabellar lines by Dr. Wu
Actual un-retouched patient before and after Botox injections to treat glabellar lines by Dr. Fabi. Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed. Before and after Botox injections to treat glabellar lines by Dr. Fabi

Other Options

San Diego Cosmetic Laser Dermatology Products

In addition to our cosmetic and medical treatments appropriate for African American skin, the experts at Cosmetic Laser Dermatology can help create a skincare regimen using medical grade skincare perfect for your skin type designed to maintain the health of your skin.

Contact our dermatology experts today so that we can create a customized skin care treatment plan that’s ideal for your ethnic identity!

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The information available on this website is provided for informational purposes only. This information is not intended to replace a medical consultation where a physician's judgment may advise you about specific disorders, conditions and/or treatment options. We hope the information will be useful for you to become more educated about your health care decisions.

*Free in-person consultations are available with Drs. Butterwick, Groff, Wu, Boen, and Leysin Fletcher, PA-C. General Dermatology consultations are subject to a fee. Virtual consultations are subject to a fee that may be applied towards treatment. Promotions are not available with Dr Goldman.

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