Aesthetic and reconstructive surgery has become increasingly visible amongst women of colour. We acknowledge the obvious breast enhancements of celebrities like Kelly Roland and Ciara and speculate on whether Tyra Banks, Halle Berry and Beyoncé have had nose jobs.
This trend has seeped into the mainstream with affordable aesthetic and reconstructive surgery now routinely available. There is no doubt that women of colour are embracing their options and owning their decisions to undergo surgery to enhance their appearance, yet how many of us are going under the knife?
Dr Jonquille Chantrey, an internationally acclaimed surgical expert who is often dubbed the ‘female face of the Cosmetic, Aesthetic & Reconstructive Industry’, has a better grasp of the reality of the situation and shares with Melanmag.com, the who’s, the what’s and the why on reconstructive surgery for women of colour.
Originally training as a plastic and trauma surgeon, Dr Chantrey began her career 16 years ago, performing reconstructive surgeries on children who had suffered from burns, people who had been injured in car accidents and cancer patients. Dr Chantrey was renowned for her artistic flair, eye for detail and was doing such a remarkable job with her patients that she was head hunted into aesthetics. Following a number of years working as a plastic surgery researcher, she developed a knowledge and depth of understanding of both the physiological and psychological needs of patients undergoing plastic surgery therefore aesthetics was a natural transition for her.
“Another reason I decided to go into aesthetics and reconstructive treatments is because I wanted to have a better connection with my patients, really get to know them and the way their minds worked. It’s really interesting getting to know why my patients want to have treatments. Contrary to what the general public think, the majority of my patients don’t want to look hugely different. They simply want to look the best version of themselves for themselves and I understand and respect that. I provided face enhancement treatment, skin enhancements like anti-aging treatments, body contouring, dermal filler works and scar and stretchmark improvement treatment which generally tend to be the most popular requests from my patients.”
“My clients are becoming more diverse. Approximately 20% of them are men, 50% of whom are men of colour who often come to me for assistance with acne and keloid scarring. Although less than 10% of my patients are women of colour I have noticed a growing trend in the varying needs of my patients from different demographics. I have conducted my work internationally and in the UK and have found that generally speaking my Asian patients, those from India, Pakistan, China often come to me for skin treatments; they want to improve their pigmentation and colouration, not necessarily skin bleaching but opting for treatment that will help them achieve an even, healthier looking skin tone. Asian patients also tend to have over active jaw muscles but following Botox treatment, the muscles soften down which slims the face.”
“Black patients tend to have the opposite, an underdeveloped jaw and cheek bones that are set back a little further than their chin, once this is adjusted their profile looks more balanced, again simply enhancing their existing appearance.”
Social media admittedly sends us mixed messages, providing us a platform to see examples of the diverse range of beauty that exists in all cultures with people’s pursuit of beauty continuing to shift.
“Of course, being a woman of colour, I have been challenged for my chosen career path however it’s more than the aesthetics for me. I really do get to build close relationships with my patients, some of whom have had very difficult life journeys, which have affected their self esteem so badly that it inhibits their ability to socialize, sustain a job, change careers or even have healthy relationships. I take my job seriously, I am particularly sensitive to cultural differences and really value the unique and specific requirements of each patient. I am passionate about helping my patients achieve their ideal of beauty ensuring that we have a mutual understanding of expectations. My job is very interesting and I get complete job satisfaction. I’m excited by new discoveries such as the difference in beauty goals for a Somali patient in comparison to a patient from Zimbabwe.”
When asked if Dr Chantrey noticed any attitudes of note between her black and minority ethnic patients in comparison to her white patients, she added: “There tends to be a reiterated emphasis on not wanting to look like they’ve had treatment, they want all changes to be subtle and I respect that. I understand that the topic of aesthetic and reconstructive surgery can be very sensitive amongst various cultural groups.”
Looking at the risks of treatments, Dr Chantrey says: “Side effects/risks are not specific to the colour of your skin, for example, both white and black skin can get keloid scarring. What is more important to observe is genetics. It’s more challenging to establish potential scarring as a side effect for patients of mixed ethnicity because of the different scales of melanin. There is a slight increase in scarring for very dark skin and also an increased risk of complex scarring for those with very white skin and red hair.”
- Do research practitioners and find out their experience of working with people with your pigmentation
- Do cut down on your sugar consumption
- Do ensure that you select an ethical doctor
- Do invest in prescribed medical grade skin care that contains controlled levels of Vitamin C and anti-oxidents to brighten the skin
- Do make sure you factor in frequent exercise as this is also good for your skin
- Do NOT gravitate towards practitioners just because of their social media followings
- Do NOT neglect the fact that there are products that can assist you with your beauty requirements
- Do NOT forget to exfoliate your skin
- Do NOT forget to drink lots of water and consume foods which have natural anti-oxidents