How Do Doctors Use a Laser for Hyperpigmentation?

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  • Written By: Amy Hunter
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2019
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Laser for hyperpigmentation treatment is an affordable and effective choice. Doctors have the option of using a traditional laser to fade hyperpigmentation, or the less invasive fraxel laser. Traditional laser skin resurfacing provides dramatic results, but leads to a significant period where the skin looks and feels raw. Fraxel laser does not leave the skin as obviously red and irritated as the traditional laser, however the results take longer to achieve, and are less dramatic.

Doctors use laser for hyperpigmentation as part of an outpatient procedure. They prepare the skin by applying an antibiotic solution to reduce the risk of infection. The laser is passed over the skin one or more times. The doctor then covers the skin in antibiotic cream or protective sheathing before sending the patient home.

This type of treatment is uncomfortable, and some type of pain relief is normally offered for the patient. The most common form of pain relief is light sleep sedation, where the patient is semi-awake, but not aware of his or her surroundings. If the area being treated is small or not in a sensitive area, a topical pain reliever may be used. For large areas or in sensitive individuals, general anesthesia is occasionally used.


Each session lasts between 30 minutes and one hour, and it may take more than one session with the laser for hyperpigmentation to disappear. The laser works by evaporating the damaged area, revealing the layer of skin underneath. Hyperpigmentation that is very pronounced, and extends deeply into the skin, may require several sessions to fade.

After treatment, the skin will be swollen and red, and the patient may experience some pain. The skin should remained moisturized, and the patient needs to wear sunscreen and protect the skin from sun exposure during the healing process. Later, it will be still necessary to protect the skin from the sun to prevent a recurrence of the hyperpigmentation.

Hyperpigmentation develops when an excess amount of pigment builds up in the skin. Hyperpigmentation develops as a result of injury, acne, medication, or hormones. Hyperpigmentation can also develop, or be made worse, through exposure to the sun. The term "mask of pregnancy" comes from hyperpigmentation that develops on the face as a result of hormonal changes during pregnancy.

Treatment by laser for hyperpigmentation may cause blistering, scarring, and abnormal pigmentation. Different skin types respond differently to lasers. A doctor using laser for hyperpigmentation treatment will consult with the patient first to discuss the best options for that particular patient.


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