Skin lightening surgery is not a common treatment for getting a lighter skin tone. It is quite costly, especially when it is a full body skin whitening procedure.
Here is information about the cost, before and after pictures of permanent, full body whitening procedure and side effects.
What is skin lightening surgery?
Skin whitening surgery is a skin melanin depigmentation treatment procedure. The treatment involves a system which aims at achieving a lighter skin tone or whitening dark complexion by reducing melanin pigmentation in skin. Several ways have been used to achieve this. They include laser skin lightening, cosmetic and bleaching or plastic surgery procedures.
On the other hand, you can opt for non-surgical options such as lightening products like creams, soaps and serums. For the purpose of this article, we only focus on the surgical approach of this kind of treatment.
It is good to know that most of the skin whitening treatments which work by blocking or diminishing the amount of melanin produced, have thyrosinase as their prime target. Tyrosinase is a term used to refer to a copper-containing enzyme present in plant and animal tissues and it catalyzes the production of melanin by oxidation [en.wikipedia.org].
Exfoliating agents in the form of chemical peels and other topical cosmetic processes like laser are made part to produce results wanted by clients.
There are some skin bleaching and lightening creams that are made for black skin. However, they are likely to produce irregular results and they take a bit longer as well. Therefore, developments in the medical sector have come up with modern equipment and can also use specialized surgical techniques for better results.
In order to understand the surgery better, it is good to equip yourself of how the machine which carries out the surgery can be used and operates:
The lasers used in skin lightening are either ablative or non-ablative, but their outcomes are not always consistent. They can result in reduced or increased pigmentation, which means that people with a dark complexion may have problems with treatment that includes lasers.
Lasers release high-energy light that is directed at the affected skin region. It destroys unwanted skin cells, permitting the skin to generate new skin cells to replace those old ones. In certain modes, a laser may generate two wavelengths that can be very useful in addressing lesions on the skin.
According to National Centre for Biotechnology Information, laser skin resurfacing was introduced in the 1980s when carbon dioxide (CO 2) lasers were first used to deliver continuous light beams to the skin.
This kind of treatment was later modified due to the high rate of side effects, which including scarring, and a new generation of CO 2 lasers and erbium lasers were introduced that were able to deliver very “short pulsed” light energy to remove skin in a more controlled manner.
A laser beam penetrates into the layer of skin without causing harm to the top layer. They stimulate the production of healthy collagen and other integral proteins quite useful for healthier and younger-looking skin.
In addition to lightening skin tone, laser procedures also help to improve your complexion. This results in fairer and smoother skin. There are quite a number of benefits that come with skin whitening surgery done to your skin:
- The first advantage this treatment has over other kinds of treatment options is that it is very fast in producing effects. While some whitening treatments take weeks to show results, laser skin resurfacing is fast and improvements can be seen straight away.
After treatment your skin will appear brighter and softer immediately and will progressively improve as it heals over 3-6 months. This is particularly true with ablative techniques where you may only require 1-2 treatments to remove dark spots and improve your skin’s appearance. Non-ablative treatments can take a little longer and may require 1-5 treatments.
- It can boost your overall confidence. Even skin tone equates to better feeling about yourself too.
- Also patients undergoing laser resurfacing are under professional surveillance during and after the treatment. The effects are monitored and, if any complications arise, trained doctors will be able to assist with any problems.
- It can improve your appearance. Laser whitening is one of the most effective procedures that can lighten your dark spots.
- It enhances your skin. Aside from helping you get rid of dark spots, it can also improve your complexion and make you feel good about yourself.
- It provides faster results than other procedures. This is because the high intensity light energy can easily be absorbed by melanin, which can be destroyed instantly.
Skin whitening surgery before and after
Prior to having the procedure done, it is good to know that the surgery involves CO2 laser, pixel CO2 laser and ultra-pulse fractional CO2 laser. Most of the surgical techniques need the involvement of deeper skin penetration.
There is need to choose a quality and effective laser skin lightening procedure because of its importance. It has the ability to restructure collagen or remove the reticular dermis at the end of it all. This will dictate the recovery time.
Some of the procedures are limited to the epidermis and therefore have a medium resurfacing is the one that is achieved. Dependent on the type of skin that you have, a normal and typical resurfacing will take about 5 hours in a single sitting.
When you are through with this procedure, you are expected to use certain products that are key in healing and maintenance. Thus it will be good that you keenly follow the doctor’s advice. If you are in need of making a few changes, then ensure to inform the doctor of such changes not trying to deviate from what you were given earlier. This helps in preventing of further complications.
On the other hand, you could apply sunscreen every day; it is recommended that you apply a sun block daily. This protects your skin from sunburn and prevention of the skin from getting darker, choose a sunscreen that is comfortably worn under your make-up.
Skin lightening surgery cost or price
How much does skin lightening surgery cost?
The cost of laser melanin surgery to get a lighter complexion depends on the clinic and the area you want to have lightened. The following areas may have different costs:
- Arms and legs plastic surgery for skin lightening
- Dark armpit lightening surgery
- Face freckle removal laser skin lightening
- Full body skin brightening
The costs of this surgeries vary from one country to the other and from the type on whether permanent or temporary. The discussion below covers the costs of the surgery in India, UK and USA. This is because these countries have the capacities and the technology to conduct them.
Cost in India
The minimum amount of money you are likely to spend on incurring the expenses of the surgery are not less than $500 upwards for the localized skin lightening surgery. For the case of permanent and other cases, it could cost even more, which might be an equivalent of even $3000. Professional advice and input is therefore key and very necessary.
Cost in USA
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons [ASPS 2012 Statistics], the average cost of laser skin resurfacing is $2,222 for ablative and $1,113 for non-ablative. Generally treatments can range from $500 to $3500. It is good to know that it is cheaper and easier to use a dermatologist than a plastic surgeon in this field.
However, cost may vary depending on the type of procedure, the qualifications of the surgeon, the time and effort required for the treatment, and the location where the procedure is being done.
Cost in UK
The cost of laser surgery is always high and may not be affordable for many people. Full body skin brightening may cost you a fortune. However, localized skin lightening surgery can cost you from 500 upwards.
In the United Kingdom UK, a localized cosmetic surgery may cost up to 400 pounds or more. Just to put you in the know, if you want to have a full body cosmetic skin whitening or lightening, its cost is not less than an equivalent of 3000 US dollars.
Is skin lightening surgery permanent?
To determine whether or not this procedure is permanent, it is based on the type of chemicals and the condition that you want to correct. The procedure however may not necessarily be permanent as such. Advice from a dermatologist is key to determine the impression and the type of surgery whether permanent or temporary.
Permanent skin bleaching surgery procedure is performed at the dermatologist’s or surgeon’s clinic. Your doctor will make an appointment with you and discuss everything that is of concern when you want to bleach your skin permanently. This procedure is good for:
- Uneven skin tone and permanent discolorations or hyperpigmentation
- Permanent skin lightening procedure is applied for scars
- Lightening dark spots on skin that are stubborn and won’t go away
- Getting rid of freckles and brown spots
- Getting rid of birthmarks such as port wine stains
The decision to go for a permanent surgery should be fueled by certain parameters or steps that should open you the way on what to do at a particular stage at a time. A confusion and mix up would lead to an improper and infective process:
The first and the most important thing to always do is to visit a dermatologist. Ensure that you schedule an appointment with a dermatologist to be able to discuss that plans you have with them. If you have skin tone picture in the mind, then carry a picture of such an individual that depicts such a skin tone as it will give him an idea of the intended achievements.
Always pay a keen attention on the advice that you will be given by the dermatologist in finding out the best options for skin lightening surgery. The dermatologist will give a professional input and be able to explain to you the likely effects if any.
The other thing that you should not forget is to consult a plastic surgeon. This is just another option if it has been advised by the dermatologist as one of the best options and therefore you can head to a plastic surgeon.
Also open up and share a picture of the intended skin tone to the surgeon to show him a visual example of the expected results. Also listen to his advice making sure to ask for any alternative options to skin lightening surgery. Also you can ask on the cost of the procedure.
The next important step is to decide on an option; after meeting both the dermatologist and the plastic surgeon, you can now settle on the best method that you will have settled on. And if such an option is skin bleaching surgery. Be reminded that the services of plastic surgery are much more expensive as compared to services of a dermatologist. But the decision is up to you.
Finally, you have to plan a recovery plan for yourself; the recovery time that is expected depends greatly on the method and procedure that you chose. A laser treatment or chemical peel may take several weeks before you recover fully, but a permanent skin lightening surgery might require a longer period of time for recovery, thus you need to make arrangements before you push through with the procedure
Full body plastic skin whitening procedure
This option comes with many advantages but it is costly because it requires insurance covers for its procedures. The most important advantage is getting a fairly permanent skin whitening and evenness in skin tone.
Other benefits of undergoing a full body skin lightening plastic surgery is getting rid of dark spots on arms and legs, removal of face freckles, dark armpits, vitiligo among many other pigmentation disorders. However, depending on the technique used, status of clinic and location, expect to spend nothing less than $3000.
This process is normally carried out by reducing the production and concentration of melanin in the body. In some procedures, laser is used and is very beneficial especially if you have dark spots. Though this process and procedure is effective, you should be very cautious in using this treatment as it may cause dark patches if not properly administered.
Skin lightening surgery uses various methods and peeling has been taken as the most common. Tretinion is applied to the skin to make it mature faster and then surgeons can easily peel off the skin to give you the complexion that you want.
Side effects of skin lightening surgery
In as much as today’s laser technology assists in lightening the look of dark spots and blemishes on the skin, you will notice that you need to be aware of possible side effects. You are likely to get some of the following side effects:
- Swelling, itchiness, and/or redness. After the procedure, your skin may feel itchy, red, and swollen. But these symptoms usually fade after a few days. For aggressive treatments, redness can be intense and may last for a few weeks.
- Burning sensation. This depends on the type of laser treatment used, burning sensation is also another side effect. But this usually subsides after a few days and can be relieved by applying a cold compress.
- Skin infections. Infection is infrequent, but it can happen. Most doctors will prescribe antibiotics after the procedure is done to treat and prevent infections.
- Changes in skin pigmentation. Laser skin lightening is definitely one of the best treatments available for whitening skin – but it isn’t for everyone. This is the very reason why you need to consult a trusted dermatologist before you undergo the treatment. If laser is not suitable for your skin, it will lead to hyper-pigmentation (darkening of the skin) or hypo-pigmentation (lightening of the skin).
- Breakouts. Acne formation is also another common side effect of cosmetic laser treatment. This usually occurs due to heavy ointments and healing creams that you apply after the procedure. In general, people with sensitive and acne-prone skin should not get this kind of treatment.
- Scabbing and blistering. These are also rare symptoms, but when they appear, they can be severe. These are common in non-ablative lasers.
- Sensitivity to the sun. Since laser treatments utilize high heat to destroy dead cells and encourage the growth of new cells, your skin can become photosensitive. After the procedure, it is recommended to reduce your exposure to sunlight and wear sunscreen to protect your skin.
- Tightness and discomfort. After the treatment, you may also experience tightness or discomfort in the area that is treated. But this will also fade overtime.
- Abnormal healing. While uncommon, abnormal healing is also possible, especially if there is excessive scarring or other severe symptoms.
- Recurrence of the skin tissue. While the cosmetic laser is considered effective in lightening skin, it doesn’t always guarantee great results. Sometimes, skin conditions come back, and you may need to take another treatment to get your desired results.
- Turning of the eyelid (ectropion). Some aggressive treatments around or near the lower eyelid, such as the ablative lasers, can also cause your eyelid to turn outward, leaving the inner surface exposed. Although this symptom is rare, it can still happen. To correct the problem, surgery is needed.
It is a common occurrence for you to see a prolonged redness and swelling of this skin after laser treatment and doctors will advise you that the treatment may also cause skin blistering, scarring, scabbing, cold sore reactivation or other infections.
Because the laser disrupts the structure of the cells beneath the skin surface, it can potentially damage the cells that produce melanin. In some cases this can cause either increased melanin production that will darken the skin (hyperpigmentation) or, in rare cases, a lightening of the skin (hypopigmentation) in some places.
Before and after photos of full body skin whitening
Here are photos showing the before and after results. Note that the photos are sourced from the internet and may not be a true representation of what you will get.
References and sources