NY Times on darker skin tone issues


Treating Skin of Color With Know-How
By Natasha Singer
Published: November 3, 2005

Dr. Eliot F. Battle Jr., a dermatologist, and Dr. Monte O. Harris, a facial surgeon - experts in cosmetic treatments for blacks, Asians and Latinos.

Dr. Battle and Dr. Harris are among a small number of prominent physicians who specialize in treatments for patients of color, along with dermatologists like Dr. Susan C. Taylor of Philadelphia; Dr. Jeanine B. Downie of Montclair, N.J.; Dr. Fran E. Cook-Bolden of New York City; and a few others. All are known as authorities on how acid peels, lasers and other cosmetic treatments, whose results vary depending on skin pigmentation, can be best performed on people with non-Caucasian skin.

Dr. Amy S. Paller, the chairwoman of the dermatology department at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, which has just opened the Center for Ethnic Skin, said the new focus may be overdue. “There has recently been a greater recognition of the need for more research and expertise in this area,” she said, “particularly in new treatments that can have a tremendous cosmetic significance for skin of color.”

Similar clinics have recently started up at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit and at the University of Miami.

The Web site of the American Academy of Dermatology has a physician locator, which lists doctors who identify their specialty as “skin of color.”

But often patients learn about the specialists by word of mouth. Adoria Doucette, a special events promoter in Washington, enthusiastically hands out Dr. Battle’s office number to almost everyone she meets, including Patti LaBelle. She credits Dr. Battle with restoring her complexion after laser hair removal performed by another dermatologist had left her “looking like someone had been putting out cigarettes on my face,” Ms. Doucette said.