Achieving smooth, even-textured skin can be a challenge for those with conditions and skin types that result in unwanted pigmentation. There are various topical creams, prescription drugs, and lifestyle changes that can help mitigate skin discoloration, but these treatments aren’t sufficient for everyone. Fortunately, the modern era has brought about major advancements in cosmetic procedures, including various forms of laser and light therapies that can improve skin health and appearance. If you suffer from unwanted pigmentation, certain laser treatments can help you enjoy clearer, smoother, brighter skin.
Our skin can undergo discoloration due to genetic and environmental factors. Vitiligo, for instance, is a skin condition that causes certain patches of skin to lose pigmentation, resulting in uneven skin color. Conversely, hyperpigmentation refers to an excess of pigmentation on select areas of skin and may be triggered by excessive sun exposure, tanning, or the ingestion of medications. Injury can also lead to unwanted pigmentation in the form of scarring. Scar tissue tends to adopt a different color and texture than the surrounding skin, either appearing darker or lighter depending on various circumstances. Those who struggle with acne may end up with various acne scars that alter the pigmentation of their face over time.
The list of pigmentation problems goes on -- even freckles count if the individual isn’t happy with how these common features make them look. Ultimately, melanocytes are the culprit behind all forms of pigmentation. These skin cells produce melanin (the substance that gives skin its color), and they can underreact or overreact based on a number of factors like the ones mentioned above. The best way to undo unwanted pigmentation, then, is to target these melanocytes directly.
Laser therapies are quickly becoming an essential tool in the dermatologist’s arsenal. While such procedures might sound extreme on the surface, laser treatments (when performed by a certified practitioner) are relatively safe, effective, and offer short recovery times. Laser pigmentation works by targeting affected areas of skin with a high-energy light. This light beam is then converted into heat energy, which is absorbed by the skin cells containing the unwanted coloration, destroying the unwanted pigment while not affecting the surrounding skin.
There are, of course, a number of laser treatment options available. The optimal choice for your pigmentation problems will depend on your skin type, medical history, goals, and specific issues. The Alexandrite 755nm Laser, for instance, is designed to remove superficial lesions over the course of 1-3 treatments. Pigmentation that lies deeper in the skin, such as melasma, may be treated with the ActiveFX Laser, which has the potential to remove up to 80% of melanin in a single session. Fraxel Re:pair and Re:store Lasers can also clear up unwanted pigmentation and resolve or mitigate other skin issues such as wrinkles, redness, and more.
Every laser treatment, regardless of its type or intensity, poses potential side effects, such as discomfort, pain, redness, itching, inflammation, scarring, and more. These risks are generally minor, and deeper complications are rare but possible. For these reasons, it’s important to discuss laser skin treatments with your dermatologist beforehand to understand and accept all the possible risks and benefits.
If your skin’s coloration is inconsistent and you want to do something about it, laser treatments are worth considering, especially if all else fails. The experts at Premier Dermatology Partners can help you navigate the various laser therapies out there so you can make the right call for your skin. To learn more about our team and all the services we provide, contact us.