Zubaida Apa may have received a fair share of flak for endorsing a fairness cream and feeding into stereotypes, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that a growing number of women are resorting to
Zubaida Apa may have received a fair share of flak for endorsing a fairness cream and feeding into stereotypes, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that a growing number of women are resorting to cosmetic treatments for a fairer skin tone. Bollywood actress Kajol, who has long been adored for her quintessentially Bengali features and dusky complexion, was recently spotted looking fairer than ever before and is reported to have undergone what is known as skin melanin surgery. While the actress denies all such claims, saying that the change is part of her staying at home mostly, we can’t help but notice the severity of it in the recently-released film Dilwale.
However, if you think that such drastic cosmetic measures are only limited to the brash and competitive world of Bollywood, you might want to think again? Our very own Fahad Mustafa is also rumoured to have used skin-lightening injections. So much for it being a societal taboo just for women. Instep spoke to Dr. Najjia Ashraf, Consultant Dermatologist at the South City Hospital, Karachi, for her expert opinion on how skin whitening surgery works and if it leads to any long-term side effects.
According to Dr Najjia, "Skin whitening surgery is a cosmetic treatment that involves restructuring of some skin tissues in an attempt to lighten the skin tone and provide a more even skin tone."
In order to get rid of dark complexion, the concentration of melanin in the skin is reduced. For this, a variety of methods are used but peeling is considered to be the most popular one due to the ease with which it is done and it’s short duration (only few minutes). "Generally, Tretinoin (isomer of retinoic acid) is applied in order to make the skin mature faster. Once it’s done, surgeons can easily peel the skin off," Dr Najjia explained.
"While most of the chemicals used are proved to be effective, some of them are considered as toxic and have a questionable safety profile," she warned. As far as the cost is concerned, it ranges from PKR 5000 to 8000 depending upon which area has to be treated, the condition of the skin and the combination of peel being used for the treatment.
Other than that, laser can also be used in some procedures especially if the patient has dark spots. This is also a simple process and takes about only 15 to 20 minutes per sitting. However, this one is costlier and the amount ranges from PKR 7000 to 20,000 based on the state of skin and the size of the treatment area.
Even though this is an effective way, Dr Najjia warned that one needs to be cautious while undergoing this sort of treatment as it may result in dark patches if the laser is not properly applied to the right area. Nonetheless, she assured that both chemical peeling and laser treatment are not painful at all. The recovery time varies from about seven to 21 days. "During this time, it may feel like you have sunburn which is marked by redness, swelling, and bruising," Dr Najjia informed. There are generally no side effects if the surgeon is well-trained but mild erythema (redness) is possible. "It may still be evident after three weeks but you don’t need to worry as this can be easily camouflaged by make-up until it completely fades in two to three months," she added.
An important point to note is that no matter what procedure one opts for, it’s not a one-time treatment and will require more than one or two sittings as most skin-related procedures tend to take time. Even though the treatment doesn’t promise long lasting results in all the cases, this may happen if the skin is properly taken care of after the procedure. Using moisturizer with sunscreen, avoiding direct sunlight from 9 am till 4 pm and taking multivitamins is recommended for maintenance.
While we in no way endorse fairness and do feel that every skin tone is beautiful, it is a helpful treatment for those suffering from two-toned skin or unwanted, visible blemishes.