Ethnic patients fastest-growing segment of cosmetic patients

July 28, 2006

People of color are the fastest-growing segment of cosmetic patients, so learning to use lasers safely and correctly for ethnic skin will mean "your doors are open" to more patients, said Eliot F. Battle Jr., M.D., at the American Academy of Dermatology's Academy '06.

People of color are the fastest-growing segment of cosmetic patients, so learning to use lasers safely and correctly for ethnic skin will mean "your doors are open" to more patients, said Eliot F. Battle Jr., M.D., at the American Academy of Dermatology's Academy '06.

"You will never be a laser expert until you can treat brown skin," says Dr. Battle, who is director of laser surgery at the Cultura Cosmetic Medical Spa in Washington, D.C., and assistant clinical professor of dermatology, Howard University Medical School.

Treating blacks is challenging, he says, because "We are a mixture of every race. ... Every time I treat an African-American, I'm treating someone different" from the last patient.

The four "crucial" laser parameters dermatologists must master to treat ethnic skin safely are wavelength, fluence, pulse duration and cooling, Dr. Battle says.

Longer wavelengths and longer pulse durations are safer, he says, and cooling is the most important factor in treating skin of color.

Side effects and blistering can occur when the skin is heated beyond 45 degrees Celsius. Side effects in black skin can occur up to 48 hours after a procedure such as laser hair removal, he says.