Scar Perception: A Comparison of African American and White Self-identified Patients

Stuti P. Garg, Abbas M. Hassan, Anooj Patel, Deima Koko, Jeffrey Varghese, Marco F. Ellis, John Y.S. Kim, Robert D. Galiano*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Scars can have significant morbidity and negatively impact psychological, functional, and cosmetic outcomes as well as the overall quality-of-life, especially among ethnic minorities. The objective of this study was to evaluate African American and White patients' perception of their scars' impact on symptoms, appearance, psychosocial health, career, and sexual well-being, using validated assessment tools. Method: A total of 675 abdominoplasty and breast surgery patients from four providers completed the SCAR-Q, and Career/Sexual Well-Being scales via phone or email. A higher score on both assessments indicates a more positive patient perception. Results: Of the 675 respondents, 77.0% were White, and 23.0% were African American. White patients scored significantly higher on the SCAR-Q (232 ± 79 versus 203 ± 116), appearance (66 ± 26 versus 55 ± 29), and Career/Sexual Well-Being (16 ± 2 versus 15 ± 5) scales than African American patients (P < 0.001, P < 0.001, P < 0.001, respectively). There was no significant correlation between duration after surgery and symptoms or appearance scores for African American patients (P = 0.11, P = 0.37). There was no significant correlation between patient age and SCAR-Q score or time after surgery and psychosocial scores. Conclusions: African American patients are more likely to have lower perceptions of their scarring appearance, symptoms, psychosocial impact, career impact, and sexual well-being impact than White patients. Scar appearance and symptoms are less likely to improve over time for African American patients. This study highlights the need to address patient ethnicity when considering further follow-up, counseling, or other measures to enhance scar perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E4345
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery - Global Open
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 23 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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