Skin Lightening Surgery

If you have areas of skin that you’d like to have lightened, but have been disappointed in the performance of home remedies and skin lightening pills, lotions or creams, you may be thinking about surgery to lighten your skin. In this article we offer information on the surgeries themselves, their cost and side effects. You’ll also find plenty of before and after photographs to show you how the procedures have worked for others.

article-2-pic-1Skin lightening surgery before and after

What is Skin Lightening Surgery?

Surgery to lighten the skin is an option when expensive lightening products have not given you the lightening you desire. Some people with darker skin would like a lighter skin tone, so they may be willing to invest a lot of money for surgery.

The surgical options today include chemical peels and other methods that may offer more permanent solutions. Surgery generally involves a restructuring of some of your skin tissues, in order to even out skin tone and lighten skin. The process is accomplished by reducing the concentration and production of the body’s natural melanin.

Permanent surgery for lightening of the skin is usually recommended for any of these skin issues:

  • Dark spots on the skin caused by aging
  • Imperfections caused by the skin’s melanin
  • Facial blemishes or dark spots caused by excessive pigmentation

Surgical Procedures for Skin Lightening

article-2-pic-2Sammy Sosa, Baseball retiree, before and after lightening

Once you have decided to have surgery to lighten your skin, follow these recommendations:

  • Consult with your dermatologist. Show him photos of the skin tone you’d like, to find out if that is achievable.
  • Speak with a plastic surgeon if your dermatologist thinks that surgery is a viable option for you. Show him your desired skin tone photo, too. Ask about costs.
  • Determine your best option. If you wish to choose plastic surgery, it will be much more expensive.
  • Plan for your recovery. The time will depend on the procedure and method of your choosing. A chemical peel or laser treatment could take a few weeks for full recovery, but permanent surgery may require more recovery time.
  • Choose your maintenance products. You will need to use products after surgery to help in skin healing and maintenance. Follow your physician’s advice closely.
  • Use sunscreen daily. After your surgery, you need to apply sunscreen every day. It will prevent your skin from becoming darker and keep you from getting a sunburn.

article-2-pic-3Skin lightening before and after – Mshoza

Laser Skin Lightening Surgery

Lasers are the most commonly used method for lightening skin tone. At the end of these laser treatments, your skin will be lighter.

Irritation is a part of laser skin surgery, and it can be uncomfortable. After the procedure, you will have creams prescribed that will maintain your skin. Follow all instructions you are given. If you don’t follow your dermatologist’s advice, you may not have the best results. Avoiding direct sunlight for the first few days is vital, for example.

Cost of Surgery for Skin Lightening

article-2-pic-4Lil Kim before and after skin whitening surgery

Surgery for skin lightening is a process that involves depigmentation, which lightens the skin. Although there are many ways to lighten skin, surgery usually will provide the most permanent results. You can choose full body surgery for skin lightening, if you have not had success with less intense procedures. Be sure to speak with your dermatologist and a plastic surgeon first, to make sure that you’re a good candidate for this type of surgery.

Various costs are associated with skin whitening surgery, depending on whether you only want facial lightening or full body lightening. There are four general areas people choose to lighten and they each involve different costs. They are:

  • Full body lightening
  • Arm and leg lightening
  • Facial freckle removal
  • Dark armpit lightening

These types of surgery are quite expensive, and many people will not be able to afford them. Even a minimal surgical local lightening of skin may run in excess of $500.

Aftercare procedures will add to the overall cost. So will handling any side effects you may experience. Insurance does not generally cover cosmetic procedures like skin lightening.

You’ll also have visits to the clinic and your physician may determine what level of melanin you possess, and how much can be reduced, in order to lighten your skin. Lasers can reduce melanin levels. Depending on the intensity of the procedure, you may experience various levels of discomfort.

The total cost of skin whitening surgery depends on what physician you use, and what the clinical costs involve. The price may vary from one clinic to another.

Your chosen clinic’s technology is also part of the pricing for surgical skin lightening. The clinics with the most modern equipment, which will give you the best results, are usually more expensive. These clinics offer qualified services and skilled dermatologists.

article-2-pic-5Skin whitening surgery before and after – Vera Sidika

Many treatments for skin lightening work by blocking or diminishing the amount of melanin your body produces, and they target tyrosinase inhibition. Treatments also utilize topical lotions and gels that include ingredients that inhibit melanin production. You may also receive a prescription for a retinoid product and a sunscreen.

Based on the way your skin responds to these treatments, topical cosmetic agents or chemical peels and lasers may be used. Areas with high pigmentation levels, like moles and birthmarks, can usually be depigmented in order that they better match the skin surrounding them.

Chemical Agents and Skin Lightening

Skin lightening is a dermatological cosmetic procedure that utilizes chemical agents to lighten the skin. Issues with the skin, like liver spots and age spots, may also be managed with these methods. This treatment could also be beneficial for people with disorders like vitiligo, where the pigment of your skin is impaired or hyperactive. This causes two widely different problems.

It’s important to remember that lightening skin goes beyond skin color to include skin tone.

There are many different reasons why people wish to have their skin lightened. They may be trying to reduce effects of dark pigmentation of the skin, if they prefer a lighter complexion. This surgical method reduces melanin levels in the skin. Dermatologists generally use chemical substances in this process, to reduce the skin’s melanin deposits to achieve the lighter skin tone they want.

Africans and African-Americans who are seeking skin lightening may have more complex situations. Skin lightening may not be as effective for them, since they have a thick melanin layer under the skin. Soaps and bleaching creams are not as effective in their case, as compared to surgical treatments.

Skin Lightening Surgery Treatment

The lasers used in skin lightening are 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.

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.

Full Body Skin Lightening Surgery

Laser peels and laser skin resurfacing make use of concentrated light beams to remove damaged or unwanted skin.

This technology can be used to treat fine lines, in addition to darker areas. The treatment utilizes a laser beam, which removes the epidermis – the outer skin layer. Then it heats the dermis underneath, which stimulates new skin cell growth.

Laser whitening is effective in treating dark spots and acne, but aggressive treatments sometimes lead to dark pigmentation in the treated areas. This is particularly common in people who have a darker skin tone to start with.

While whitening treatments could take a number of weeks to show you positive results, skin resurfacing with lasers is fast, and you’ll see improvements sooner. After the treatment, once it heals, your skin will look softer and brighter. It will improve progressively as the months pass after treatment, too.

This is especially true where ablative lasers only require a couple treatments to remove any dark spots and improve the appearance of your skin. Treatments with non-ablative lasers may require up to five treatments or so, before effects are seen.

Cosmetic Skin Lightening Surgery

article-2-pic-6 article-2-pic-6Before and after skin bleaching – Nollywood actress

Bleaching is sometimes an effective procedure in lightening skin. It is tedious, though, as compared to other types of treatments.

Topical agents ranging from skin bleachers to lightening creams for skin are still in use today. Peeling the skin allows new cells to form, and will give you smoothness and glow to your skin tone. It is sometimes not as effective for total body skin lightening.

Studies have been undertaken to determine the effects of a long series of whitening injections. Clinical studies on molecules determined that they are part of the body’s antioxidants, which help to protect your liver.

Your body produces its own antioxidants in great numbers, to protect itself. After an oral antioxidant was in use, it was discovered that the same type of method might also be applied to skin lightening.

Most injections for lightening are meant to be administered only by licensed physicians. There should be two to three days between injections. Avoiding the sun is an important part of this procedure, too.

Some antioxidant benefits include:

  • Prevention of blemishes and pimples
  • Removing of dark colored spots
  • Anti-wrinkle treatments
  • Skin whitening
  • Treating ulcerations of the skin
  • Making the skin vibrant, fresh, smooth and supple
  • Nourishing the skin
  • Enhancement of the skin’s ability to heal wounds

Skin Lightening Surgery Side Effects

As with any procedure for any medical or cosmetic issue, there are potential side effects when you have surgery for skin lightening.

While today’s laser technology assists in lightening the look of dark spots and blemishes on the skin, you need to be aware of possible side effects. You may experience:

  • Swelling of skin
  • Prolonged skin redness
  • Scabbing
  • Blistering
  • Scarring
  • Infection

Lasers disrupt the cell structure beneath the surface of the skin. They may damage melanin-producing cells. This can cause hyperpigmentation, where the melanin production is increased, causing the skin to become darker, which is certainly not what you were seeking. In rare cases, hypopigmentation results from treatment.

With surgical procedures that are more aggressive, your skin may blister or become raw. The treated areas may ooze and form a crust that could lead to scarring. Your skin may also become MORE sensitive to exposure to sunlight after aggressive laser treatment. If this occurs, you must work even harder to minimize your exposure to the sun.


    • Before you decide to have any surgeries, it would be wise to look for other options. There are things available that may help you make a more safe determination. You may also want to ensure that this is something that you truly want to do. Have a great day, Samantha!

  1. Hey,
    I have been looking into getting this procedure done for years now. And I have yet to find any clinic that does this surgery with permanent results.

    Do you know of any clinics that offer this procedure?

    Please email me with details.
    Thank You!

    • I am not aware of any clinics that offer this procedure. It is generally not a good idea to do cosmetic procedures–surgeries always carry risks, and there is no reason to take the risks unless you need to. You can talk to your doctor to see if there are options for this in your area, and your doctor can also inform you about any risks or alternatives available.


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