Cheryl M. Burgess, MD: Answering Questions on Treatments for Skin of Color


In this Fall Clinical Dermatology Conference interview, Dr. Burgess answered several questions related to aesthetic treatments for patients with skin of color, including specific recommendations.

In this HCPLive interview segment, Cheryl M. Burgess, MD, spoke on treatment modalities suited for skin of color as well as the evolution of aesthetic dermatology adapting to diversity in the current environment.

These topics were covered in Burgess’s presentation featured at the 2023 Fall Clinical Dermatology Conference in Las Vegas.

Burgess is a board-certified dermatologist known for founding the Center for Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery in Washington, DC, currently serving as its president.

Initially, Burgess was asked about whether there are certain specific treatment modalities or products in aesthetic dermatology better suited to patients with skin of color.

“When we speak about lasers in particular, we find that there's a lot of modalities and different laser devices, light and energy devices out there,” Burgess said. “We find that over the years that we've had laser technology and at least 20 years, we have data on that. The Nd:YAG 1064 nanometer lasers seem to be best suited for skin of color, and we see less adverse events in the right hands. Of course, we can see burns with any of these devices, but a lot of times, they're to me the safest that we have.

Among this patient population, Burgess notes that clinicians may want follow up more frequently. For example, if the frequency of their visits is every month, they might do every 6 weeks versus every 4 weeks.

“But also on the other hand, we can decrease the Fluence and keep them on a 4 week schedule,” Burgess said. “So it's kind of juggling between the Fluence and the follow up in order to see the results. We take it much slower with skin of color, so it's not uncommon that delay in time of being treated is commonly used for most people in most clinics.”

Burgess added that with the invention of the Nd:YAG 1064 nanometer laser, it has been revolutionary as far as lasers used for skin of color.

Later, she was asked about the changing and diversifying landscape of patients with skin of color in the US.

“For one, people have to realize that 8% of the US population is interracial marriages,” Burgess said. “So we're going to see that even increase, that was the stat 10 years ago. It's definitely probably higher, so you don't know who you're treating and how much melanin they have in their skin. They can totally look White versus non-White, and react as if they have non-White skin. So it's better to be cautious. Sometimes we recommend a little skin test or a little test spot in order to determine how a person is going to respond. But you never know what pigment people have or what ancestry that people have, unless you pretty much ask them.”

Burgess also recommended asking patients how they define themselves in this respect.

For any further information, view the full HCPLive interview segment above.

The quotes contained here were edited for the purposes of clarity.

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