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Surgeons Dread Redheads? Not Me.

Posted Dec 11 2010 12:00pm

If you read the TIME magazine piece “Why Surgeons Dread Redheads,” you might be lead to think surgeons have some kind of grudge against women with pretty hair:

Operating room docs, for example, have long reported that redheads appear to need more anesthetic than others. The new study suggests that that observation is an accurate one mostly. Redheads are also said anecdotally at least to be more susceptible to hernias. Less substantiated by the study was the belief that people with red hair are more susceptible to hemorrhages. Overall, the researchers concluded that even if redheads require a little extra handling on the operating table, trepidation among surgeons had more to do with stereotypes than with clinical evidence.”


Despite the fact that the article is framed like a discrimination piece and quotes a study, I have found none of the issues cited regarding redheads in my twenty years in surgery. My experience is that redheads tend to have thin skin which due to its associated tendency to be pale shows the signs of bruising more easily. Sutures need to be smaller to minimize the potential for scarring in thinner skinned individuals. I do not dread redheads but rather prepare for these tendencies as I have found them. The last time I looked that was called being prepared.

Best Regards,

John Di Saia MD

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