Black Women Get Butt Lifts, Other Cosmetic Surgeries

Despite cultural stigma, blacks seek plastic surgery.

ByABC News
February 24, 2012, 1:22 PM

Feb. 25, 2012 — -- A minority once known for shunning cosmetic procedures and surgery is gradually becoming more accepting of it, doctors and patients say.

"20/20" interviewed black women who have undergone breast augmentation and rhinoplasty, and even visited a Beverly Hills, Calif., dinner party where black patients lined up for Botox injections.

Phyllis Jackson, one of the guests, said she was getting Botox despite community "pressure."

"There's a pressure from the community that, you know, 'African-American women don't need to have beauty enhancements,'" she said.

Linda Caradine-Poinsett, 50, said she overcame cultural stigmas to pursue surgery that increased the size of her breasts and shrunk her waistline.

"I think African-American women are still in the closet about having plastic surgery...(but) I think we're doing it a lot more," she said.

"I'm amazed at how comfortable I'm now starting to feel about having cosmetic surgery," Caradine-Poinsett added.

As patients, blacks are still cosmetic surgery's slowest-growing minority, according to the latest statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The bulk of the plastic surgery business -- nearly 70 percent -- comes from whites.

In addition to the stigma, science may help explain why smaller numbers of blacks seek surgery. When it comes to aging skin, at least, blacks as a whole are less vulnerable, said Dr. Julius Few, a Chicago plastic surgeon. It helps explain the old saying, "Black don't crack.

"Darker skin has natural protective factors against sun. So we don't see the same wrinkling, because sun exposure typically will cause weathering or cracking or folding of the skin," Few said.

Few explained that black skin "tends to have more oil."

"A lot of people think oil in the skin is bad. The reality is oil in your skin is good. It's kind of like folding a piece of paper. The more you fold the piece of paper, the more you're likely to get a wrinkle in it. Well, if the skin is a bit oiler, has better moisture to it, it will tend not to get a heavy crease in it," he said.

That moisture advantage, however, didn't stop black women from seeking the services of Dr. Lance Wyatt at the Beverly Hills Boxox dinner party that "20/20" witnessed.

But Botox isn't the only cosmetic procedure Wyatt administers to black patients. Wyatt said he's also had black patients request butt lifts, a technique that removes fat from unwanted areas of the body, like the stomach and love handles, to enhance and reshape the buttocks.

"I've wanted my backside larger all my life," one black woman, who asked not to be identified, told "20/20." "One day I just woke up and everybody was talking about butt, butt, butt. They'd had this surgery and that surgery."

When she visited Wyatt, she said, "the first question I asked him was, How big can you make my butt?"

Watch the full episode of "The Cutting Edge," a "20/20" special, online here.