Laser and other light-based treatments have revolutionized the way we address hyperpigmentation, making it easier and more efficient than ever to treat dark spots, freckles, and redness. But not all lasers address discoloration the same way or with the same results.
With so many options available to rejuvenate the skin, how can patients determine which is the best laser treatment for hyperpigmentation? To help you in your search, I’ve compiled this guide to some of the top cosmetic procedures available.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
With an IPL skin treatment, pulses of light deliver heat that breaks up melanin and blood vessels. Once treated, superficial blood vessels are harmlessly absorbed back into the body, and dark spots rise to the skin’s surface before flaking off. You’ll likely notice your dark spots getting even darker in the days after your treatment until they disappear.
IPL is an excellent way to treat a variety of pigmentation concerns, including:
- Broken capillaries
- Sun spots
- Age spots
- Flushing and redness
- Small varicose veins
- Uneven pigmentation overall
Most people need a series of at least 3 treatments to see their best results.
Also known as a photofacial, IPL is incredibly powerful on its own but can be used to enhance other hyperpigmentation treatments. A combination laser treatment like Light & Bright, for example, uses IPL and laser skin resurfacing to clear unwanted pigment, fade redness, and improve skin texture.
PicoSure® & PicoWay® Resolve
“Pico” laser treatments get their name from the pulses of light they deliver—they’re just a picosecond, or one trillionth of a second, long. These ultra-short pulses break up excess pigmentation in the skin the same way they break up tattoo pigment: The photoacoustic action breaks up the pigment into small enough particles that the body can naturally eliminate them.
Both PicoSure and PicoWay Resolve laser skin rejuvenation treatments involve little to no downtime and are excellent for treating various forms of discoloration, including sun spots, freckles, and melasma. Most people need 3 to 4 treatments to notice a clear difference in their skin.
Light & Bright
This combination therapy combines IPL with Frax 1550, a non-ablative fractional laser. The Ellipse® IPL targets visible blood vessels and excess melanin, diminishing redness, dark spots, and sun damage, this is the first portion of the treatment. Fractional skin resurfacing is up next using controlled energy bursts heat the middle layers of the skin, triggering the body to start creating collagen. This amplified collagen production will even out the skin’s texture and fortify it with greater resilience and elasticity.
Together, these treatments create clearer, more even, and youthful-looking skin.
Light & Bright is fantastic for treating sun spots, age spots, freckles, and various forms of sun damage-related hyperpigmentation.
SmartSkin CO2 uses a fractionated CO2 laser that preferentially targets water molecules in the middle layers of the dermis. The resulting interaction stimulates collagen production for healthier, firmer skin.
When it comes to hyperpigmentation, SmartSkin CO2 creates a clearer and smoother complexion by addressing age spots, sun damage, and brown spots while also minimizing acne scars, surface irregularities, and visible signs of aging. Those with darker skin tones, however, should opt for another treatment method as CO2 lasers carry a higher risk of pigmentation issues for people with Fitzpatrick IV to VI skin types.
Laser treatments can produce exceptional results when revitalizing the skin (see for yourself in more before and after photos!), but they’re not the only hyperpigmentation treatments available.
In addition to lasers, these non-laser skin resurfacing options work well for evening out skin coloration:
- HydraFacial®: This treatment gently cleans and exfoliates the outer layer of your skin, removing discolored cells. It also extracts deep impurities from your pores with the help of alpha hydroxy acids. To finish your treatment, your provider hydrates your skin with a personalized blend of serums, leaving it soft and refreshed.
- The Perfect™ Derma Peel: This medium-depth chemical peel rejuvenates the skin using glutathione to stimulate collagen and elastin production and promote healthy cell turnover. The result is a noticeably brighter and clearer complexion.
- Skincare Products: When incorporated into your skincare routine, our in-depth, clinically proven cosmeceutical skincare products help reveal fresher and more evenly toned skin.
To make sure your treatments are as effective at treating excess pigmentation as possible, I offer VISIA® skin analysis. (You can read more about VISIA skin analysis in a related blog post.) This advanced system analyzes your skin under various spectrums of light to detect lingering pigmentation we can’t see with the naked eye. Once we treat these areas completely, you’re less likely to have new dark spots emerge anytime soon.