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Curly Nikki

Black Women and Plastic Surgery

By January 27th, 202142 Comments

by Sherrell Dorsey of Organic Beauty Vixen

For the past few months I’ve been doing some social media contracting work with a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon. I probably know more about procedures, risks and preparation than I care to know. The entire experience has made me contemplate whether or not I would ever get plastic surgery. Would you?

Whether it’s a bigger butt, a thinner nose, a flatter stomach or bigger breasts it seems as though our culture is just a tad bit obsessed with our looks and the ideal image of beauty. I’m surely guilty and must admit that I’ve have considered a boob job when I realized that the same bra I wore in high school is still relevant to my life (and my boobs for that matter) today.

I’m a victim of vanity. I got Invisalign fresh out of high school, had my teeth bleached a few times and started working out to get that hard body I’ve always wanted. I color my hair and wear eye cream. I never want to look plastic but there are a few procedures I’ve considered to give me a little bit of what I was missing to fill out my clothes the way I want to. But do all of these things equate to lack of self-love or is it completely the opposite when we do our best to take care of what we have and take pride in how we look?

When we talk about changing our beauty in favor of something that may look a little “better” are we playing into society’s stereotypes or truly improving on what God has already given us? I’ve been hit with this conundrum for a while and not sure if subliminally we all do have our standard image of beauty whether we want to admit it or not.

Increasingly, according to an article I read on MSNBC “The Grio”, plastic surgery has become more affordable even for those without “money in the bank”. Additionally, Black women are having more and more work done.

Black Women and Plastic Surgery

Nene Before & After

Take a look at NeNe Leakes in an article on who has made a dramatic “improvement” to her appearance. The sister looks fly I must admit but was there anything really wrong with her appearance in the first place?

I’m a little torn about the decision to undergo the knife. Maybe you all can help me with the pros and cons of the situation.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons the following were the top procedures for African Americans in 2010:

1. Liposuction

2. Nose Job (Rhinoplasty)

3. Breast Reduction

What do you think about these statistics? Have you had a procedure or considered one? Please share your story and experience with me.

Sherrell Dorsey is a natural beauty expert, writer, speaker and advocate of health, wellness and sustainability in communities of color. In addition to creating, Sherrell writes beauty articles for Tyra Banks’s beauty and fashion site, Jones Magazine, and Posh Beauty. Follow Sherrell on twitter at and connect with her on facebook at


CN Says:

I couldn’t get a cartilage piercing without irritation and a threatened keloid. I’ll pass… unless of course my pathetic tidday situation doesn’t start looking up… literally 😉 As Nene said, ‘nipples high to the sky!’


  • Anonymous says:

    the only thing i would do was a breast reduction i am 5'2 and have 42ddd breast size but i am scared because of the possibility i could lose nipple sensation but nose job, butt implants now this is unnessecary you can work out your glutes and your glutes will get bigger hense your butt will get bigger other than that i guess im happy with what god gave me..

  • Natural Hair says:

    Honestly, she looks fine now, but Nene looked good in her before picture. She is a pretty woman.

    It's weird because on one hand, a person has a right to look good according to her perception, because no matter what anyone says, if you don't think you look good, you don't. Since your mind creates your reality.

    However, there are so many beautiful women who don't even realize how stunning they are just because no one ever told them.

  • Anonymous says:

    SHe looked better before.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous October 22, 2011 5:18 PM – Mighty funny someone who claim to love their body but in the same breath assaults by calling people vain and"lazy bums" instead of having words or wisdom and encouragement. Hmmmm, makes me suspicious about how you REALLY look on the inside and out.


  • Unknown says:

    I have thought about getting breast implants but then when I think about having to change them out every ten years I realize that for me it isn't worth it.

  • Anonymous says:

    Firstly, there is a BIG difference between a brest REDUCTION and AUGMENTATION.

    Secondly, have any of you ever considered doing PUSH-UPS to perk your breasts up as opposed to just getting plastic surgery? Most of the things people get plastic surgery can be improved on by SIMPLY going to the gym or exercising on a regular basis. But people these days are lazy and obsessed with INSTANT gratification.

    I think its sad really… people are so shallow and vain that they think they are "improving on what God gave them," as the author put it. As if that is even possible. Love yourselves people!!

    Honestly, NeNe was ugly before the surgery and is STILL just as ugly now! haha but thats neither here nor there. If she "feels" better about herself, thats all that matters I guess.

    I would NEVER get anything done to my body. Again, I reiterate, breast reduction is not the same as augmentation.

    I am 5'5, 135 lbs, work out regularly, and wear a D cup. I am fine with my body. Maybe some of yall need to just go to the GYM. Lazy bums! haha 😉

  • Anonymous says:

    I had a tummy tuck 6 years after having my first and only child. I had always been slim and while my stomach went down immediately after giving birth, the "scrilla" that it left was really giving me the blues. Everything was all good until you got under the belly button.. raisined skin and stretch marks. The badges of motherhood… PUH!!! I LOVED the results.. no more scrilla and I could wear bikinis again. YAY!

  • Anonymous says:

    Its not "medically necessary" but I would get lipo in the gut. Going to the gym most days of the week, heavy cardio, weight training, strict diets over the years had helped me lose a lot of much needed weight, but I still have a trouble area that I would like to eliminate.

    I don't have the kid excuse, just my genes! I guess its easy to judge if you've always been naturally slim, but even with the ideal lifestyle, we still need a little "help".

  • MissNovember says:

    Tummy tuck. When I was a teen I had the flattest, tonest, 31 gun salute tummy that I "hated because it was so muscular". Getting married and having kids at 21 got rid of that tummy REAL quick. I'm now 29 with 2 kids and my stomach is a complete nightmare. I am 5'2, 125lbs, and I look like a pregnant gymnast. My body is completely toned in every other area ( and my boobs are nonexsitatn just like Dominique Dawes. lol Thanks kids! :/ ) I dont think I'd really do the boob job. I dont think I care that much. Mostly… and my late husband was totally supportive and promised he'd "buy me a new tummy if I had another son for him" lol… I just want this ugly extra skin CUT OFF. I think it effects my breathing, the abdominal walls being "broken" and over stretched. I just cant decide if I want it now, while I'm single and can flaunt it until I meet Mr Right #2… with the possibility of having more kids… or later, with the possibility of having a loving husband who doesnt care about my tummy issues?? SIGH..

  • MsAfrikanaChiC says:

    my opinion is that having plastic surgery done to improve your health or to get you back to looking the way you used to look is not a bad thing. There is always a risk going under the knife because it is major surgery but other than that I see nothing wrong.

    I do however feel some sort of way about African Americans getting Rhinoplasty. For a time I hated my nose because I thought it was too big and cumberson but as I grew older I realized that was my family's nose. I couldn't see myself changing something that was a major part of my family and ethnic heritage. It was what defined me as being a part of my family, & is a Black feature. I also couldnt imagine bearing children and them having my natural nose and going through the same hate process because their nose didn't look like mommy's nose (which would be not natural to begin with).

    I say do what makes you happy but really evalute the reasons why you want to change yourself. I know my reason was not valid.

  • Athena says:

    I had a breast reduction in 2004, and it was the best decision ever, but in my case, it was medicallly necessary. I was suffering from headaches, shoulder grooves and aches and back pain. I would do it again tomorrow if I had to. I also would consider lipo, but only if I've put the work into my body with eating right and exercise and needed that little extra to get rid of the stuff that exercise can't get rid of.

  • Nadine says:

    If it isnt medically necessary, then it will just cause more issues later on. My opinion, dont get a procedure if it isnt necessary. Most ppl on tv are getting procedures done to go with the trend, big butts this yr but what happens when it isnt in next yr? Back to the "doc" to remove it? How do remove all that silicone anyways? Ughhhhhh!

  • Anonymous says:

    I would get a tummy tuck ,breast lift/and or implants,and a brazilian butt lift in that order . Why? Well I've had 3 csections and breastfed 3 babies my youngest for over 2 years so my boobs and belly need some help sorry but it makes me very annoyed to hear others say "do crunches and excercise if it worked for everybody that would be great but it does not ! Why feel sad that someone wants to look their best. Think about how that person may feel embarassed, ashamed etc ….

  • Insidebeautymatters says:

    No i wouldn't(apart for health reasons i.e reconstructive if one has had an accident etc…) I am fearfully and wonderfully made and wouldn't do it for cosmetic reasons i.e to appease my vanity.People have free will so will do what they will.

    The issue is on the inside.if everyone wud pay attention to their inner issues(lust,greed,coveoutness,bitterness etc..)and turn to the word of God for help, the world would be a better place. The society we live in promotes outside beauty but treads all over having good character! Character will kepp you as beauty fades away…Jus my 2 pence…

  • Anonymous says:

    What has Nene had done? I cant see a difference

  • Anonymous says:

    It saddens me that so many ladies want to have sugery 🙁

  • Anonymous says:

    I want a breast reduction so badly. I certainly don't have the finances for it, though. I'm just gonna continue working out and hope they go away. I hate having to wear 2 bras to exercise, always wearing a tanktop so my girls don't show, or not being able to wear button-up shirts.

  • Anonymous says:

    After putting this off for years, I finally had breast reduction surgery in 2007. IT WAS THE BEST THING I EVER DID!! Point blank. I dont have to spend a big money on bras, I no longer have shoulder and arm pain, I have since had to have back surgery from the years of carrying a small child on my chest! But the best thing is I no longer have a headache EVERYDAY! Yes I had a headache everyday since I was teen and I didnt have a clue my big boobs was the problem, my doctor had to tell me. I didnt want to do it for years because "black people dont do that" well this black woman did and it changed my life. Those headaches were a huge burden in my life and the breast reduction freed me to get out there in life without that nagging pain. And I know its different for everyone but I didnt have to take one pain pill and I was only off work for 7 days.

  • donna dorrane says:

    Sweetie you're not a victim of vanity.
    You're a victim of society, and the boob tube.

    Stop watching TV.


  • Sophie says:

    I think getting a breast reduction for back pain is very different than augmentation or even a lift. I personally don't think people should take plastic surgery so lightly, because as Anonymous 5:29 said, it is possible to die during these procedures and that is not a one in a million freak. The most dangerous part of most surgeries is the general anesthesia, so just because the surgeon isn't opening up your heart doesn't mean it's safe. I think there are things that help you live your life differently/better, like getting excess skin removed if you lose a lot of weight, or getting your nose worked on because you have breathing problems, but people should really consider how much little "tweaks" mean to them when they choose to undergo real surgery to achieve a little "upgrade". It can also exacerbate unknown medical conditions like heart problems. I could go on! It breaks my heart to think of *anyone* losing their mother, sister, friend, who they love and think is beautiful because she was undergoing a purely cosmetic procedure. So sad. I feel like investing in a good bra, remembering that all those saggy bits are the result of life, experience, and bringing a person into the world, and putting those several thousand dollars into a college fund is a better course of action. That all said, I don't think it is vanity because the insecurities can be deep, but I think they can often be solved in different ways.

  • Anonymous says:

    Of all the items on the list, I believe that for some people breast reduction is a necessity. A large bust can cause back problems and can make it difficult to detect lumps if they are deeply embedded.

    I agree with most of what Anonymous 3:47 PM said, a BALANCED approach is essential. I think women in America are constantly bombarded with images and ideas on how they SHOULD look and yet the reality is humanity is diverse. We are a mix of different races, genes,
    features. In all fairness, there isn't one ideal look. In this society there is a pressure to look "perfect". While it is an individual's prerogrative whether or not to get plastic surgery, having a procedure done may not necessarily make them happier if mentally they still find fault with their bodies.

    Doing research is important and talking to your family as well. I read about a Florida mother who went in for a procedure and did not wake up. She had not told her family, one can only imagine the pain they felt. There are also financial implications, it's okay if you can spare the money. But one should also consider what other ways you can use it: e.g. invest it for the future, pay for the kids college, take a family trip etc.

  • Anonymous says:

    I've done it! I was extremely heavy growing up, lost weight on my own and was left with sagging skin. For my college graduation at 23 I had a tummy tuck and liposuction and it changed my life! I say if you're unhappy with something, change it.

  • L says:

    Nikki….you are hilarious!!! I love your commentary.

  • Unknown says:

    I would have a breast lift and a bit of reduction. I have 44D cup breasts but they are saggy and wide. LOL! I would like perkier look:).

  • Anonymous says:

    I'm 46 and at this point would definitely not consider plastic surgery. I'll never say never, but it's not something that is even on my radar.
    I don't judge others who decide to pursue it, but I do think our society has become a "beauty at all cost" scenario. I also think it has become a "quick fix, one stop shopping" approach to physical changes which occur naturally due to aging or unnaturally due to not be willing to care of yourself.
    So, I have noticed changes in my body over the yrs- natural ones. I can't eat anything I want anymore and not expect to gain weight in places that won't make me happy. I changed my whole diet and am satisfied with it and the changes I have seen with my body and energy level. I have always exercised vigorously, but I know that joint jarring exercises will not take me into my senior years without enhancing arthritis, so I have adjusted the type of exercising that I do.
    I think my current lifestyle will take me into my senior years and if I find that I need to adjust, then I will.
    There are many situations in which Plastic Surgery is used to benefit people who are truly suffering (i.e. back pain associated with large breasts,disfigured accident victims, recovering mastectomy patients,etc). So, the field definitely is being used in many cases for good cause.

    Sorry for the long post, but, in summary, I think a BALANCED approach to living (in terms of physical activity, diet and attitude) goes a long way in keeping one out of the doctor's office for preventable reasons.

  • Ashley Jane says:

    I'd consider plastic surgery on anything but my face. I have yet to see a black person with plastic surgery on their face that looks good. I think it's cuz surgeons try to put european features on African faces instead of toning down the features. Until someone figures out how to do that, I wouldn't consider it on my face.

  • Anonymous says:

    I had a tummy tuck 4 years ago with zero regrets. I know plastic surgery is frowned upon in the AA community, and some of my own family members thought I was crazy. But my husband was supportive and I'm glad I did it.

    I was 39 and my kids were 9 and 4. I'm 5'5" and at that time, I was between a size 6 and 8, exercising daily, and eating healthfully most of the time. In other words, I was living right.

    The problem was that I had loose, wrinkly skin below my navel…think raisin. There is nothing you can do to rid yourself of excess skin. It doesn't matter if you lose weight or do a million crunches. Once the elasticity is gone, that's it.

    So I opted for a tummy tuck. I researched surgeons and chose one of best in the area. Researching surgeons is not the time to bargain shop…never choose a surgeon based on price! I had several pre-op consultations, exams, and had to have a full physical exam with blood work to make sure I had no hidden health problems. Post-surgery I had 4-5 follow ups with the surgeon to monitor healing, scarring, etc. My last exam was 1 year post-op.

    The first few weeks post-op were tough in terms of pain, mobility, and difficulty sleeping. The total cost was just under $10,000. But having my flat tummy was worth the money and discomfort. Thankfully I received excellent care from my surgeon and his staff.

    I'm 43 now and my vanity gives me an extra push to take care of myself in terms of eating right and exercising. In the years since the surgery, I have lost some weight and dropped down to between a size 4 and 6. I have saggy boobs from breasfeeding my boys and I still have minor body issues like most women. I accept my laugh lines and the circles under my eyes. I'm not afraid of aging and I have no desire to go under the knife for anything else.

  • CurlyTonya says:

    I had a breast reduction earlier this year…..and I couldn't be happier! I love my new smaller and perky breast. My insurance paid for the procedure due to back and neck problems. The bills for my procedure totalled to about $16,000…very expensive!!! Due to cost, I doubt I would get another procedure….but I would like a tummy tuck and some lipo.

  • Lillian Mae says:

    Plastic surgery isn't for me personally, as I would only go under the knife if it was medically necessary, BUT I encourage all to do your research in order to find the best Dr!

  • Anonymous says:

    ^ don't let your looks be the only thing that defines u then its ok.

  • Anonymous says:

    I had breast augmentation done after I had my babies. My breasts had literally deflated so much that I wasn't even filling out an A cup bra (I was a small B before). I had never considered having my breasts done before my kids, I was just fine with my small chest but once the small cute perky boobs were gone and they were replaced with runny eggs I started to become uncomfortable. My husband was just fine but I became very shy with my body and embarrassed. I thought for a long time though before having the surgery, just to make sure that I was doing this for me and only me. I decided that my reasons were legit, had the surgery done and I don't regret it. I didn't want any outrageous tig-ol-bitties…I just got a small C cup and they fit me very naturally. I have 2 call scars but over all I am more satisfied with them than I was with my post baby boobs. I say as long as u think about why u want the surgery, go somewheres safe, do your research, and don't let your looks defing

  • classCie says:

    I know a few women who have had breast reductions for health reasons. My friend is about 5'1 100 lbs and her breasts were about a size E. I also had a friend in high school that needed to get a reduction.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi curlies – mzccnd here…

    Except in the case of major disfigurement, I really don't believe in plastic surgery. BUT, I personally would love a tummy tuck! My fear is that once I got started I'd keep going until I didn't recognize me anymore. See, I'm 52 and while I think I look pretty damn good for my age, there is no doubt that them kids I had 27 years ago took a toll on my physique. I'm naturally muscular and have big arms and thighs, but very little up top. I've never cared much about busums so I don't think I would mess with the tiddays (hee hee). I've always had a big butt which doesn't bother me because it seems to balance some of the other stuff out. Plus it's just kinda comes standard on most sistahs. But my "figger" has certainly changed because of the amount of flesh that now occupies my bones–still it's not bad. (Every time I watch the Biggest Loser, I know it could be worse.) My concern is that if I did get a tummy tuck, I'd stand in the mirror afterward saying, "I look pretty good except for these big arms." Then I'd have to go get lipo on my guns and the next thing I know I'd be making an appointment to get rid of my ginourmous thighs. In any case, I guess it's a good thang I caint afford plastic surgery. I suppose my thought is, keep what ya got and learn to love it!

  • Anonymous says:

    I had a breast lift done exactly two weeks ago and am amazed at the results thus far. I wish I had done this years ago. Plastic surgery is not for everyone and the proper research (along with realistic expectations) must be done beforehand. My DH was fully supportive and is equally pleased with the results. Previously NO bra was able to get these girls to where they are now!

  • Pecancurls says:

    I woud love to get a tummy tuck. Two kids later. I've lost 25 pounds in the past year (the reason why I went natural). The tummy is not tight at all. If I had the $$ and did not fear the painful recovery I would be so there. I say do what makes you happy. Make sure you do your research and be comfortable with your decision; unlike a bad hairstyle ….you can't just wash your hair and get a redo. 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    The only plastic surgery I would ever get would be a breast reduction. I'm 5'5" 123 lbs and a 32dd constantly asked if my boobs are real and the back pain's no joke. When I was younger I wanted a nose job, but I have since grown into it.

  • Anonymous says:

    I don't see breast reduction as plastic surgery. I've known women who suffered from backaches and other joint problems due to large breasts and it's often covered by insurance as a medically necessary procedure. The other two procedures? I'll pass. Diet and exercise can often reduce a big gut. As for a nose job, if God didn't want me to have a broad flat nose, He wouldn't have given it to me.

  • SoVAiN says:

    I'd consider a boob job post kids. I have always been well endowed and I am scared of what my ladies will look like post breast feeding. I'd like them smaller and perkier.

  • TechNubie says:

    I see number 3 on the list as a necessity. Heavy boobs can hamper your life. As for Nene Leakes, we haven't lived her life so we can't say her there wasn't anything "wrong" with it. She was going through a major life change and maybe wanted to change the outside as well.

    Improving your body is fine as long as you are confident in your decision and are doing it for the right reasons. Those reasons should be things you are content with that won't bring you heartache or regret later.

  • Jenn says:

    I've considered getting a breast lift after I have my kids and finish with breast feeding. I wear a DD cup and I'd like my boobs to be perky, but definitely not larger.

  • Anonymous says:

    Lol @ "pathetic tidday situation"! I feel you Nikki! I am considering having a breast augmentation, as my "situation" did not improve after nursing my firstborn, 6 years ago. My goal is to restore the volume lost after the milk shop shut down. Going to consult with a plastic surgeon in the next few weeks.

    I haven't shared my intentions with the majority of my friends because I felt they would be judgmental. In fact, I wrestled with personal judgment before making my final decision; would God be upset with me altering what he created (even though I have tattoos and nose pierced)? am I being too vain? what would other people think of me?

    Then I realize that in this life, my job is to be happy. I don't think that there's an across the board path that will lead us all there, it's kind of like a choose-your-own-adventure-novel…you've got to do what's best for you, without shame! I'm not trying to create my own personal version of that tv show The Swan, I just want a lil boobie boost!

    Lastly, I did share my intentions with 2 close friends and one revealed to me that she had a tummy tuck and the other said that she had her boobs done years ago! Both of these ladies are gorgeous, well-rounded, centered and grounded African=American females, with kids. They even said their husbands were supportive and are very appreciative of the results!

    All I say is, with the Conrad Murray case in the news, make sure you do your research on your surgeon!…and don't Michael/Janet/Latoya Jackson your nose 🙂

  • random says:

    I want a breast reduction that's all. I have back problems and I'm tired of spending $40+ on a bra. I don't consider it plastic surgery though, I thought it was known as reconstructive surgery.

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