When your skin starts to show signs of a pigmentation disorder, it might simply be a nuisance. But if the condition persists and spreads, you may find your confidence and social life to be negatively impacted. Laser treatments are a popular option for pigmentation disorders. Read on to find out how laser therapy can help remove freckles and dark spots.
If you’re dealing with patchy areas of white skin that has seemingly lost its color, you might have vitiligo. This skin condition is caused when the cells that melanin (known as melanocytes) die or stop functioning. Melanin gives skin and hair their color so when it stops being produced, pigmentation is lost. This can result in vitiligo on the face, hands, torso, genitals, mouth, or hair.
On the other hand, dark spots can show up as a result of increased melanin production. Known as hyperpigmentation, freckles are often caused by excess exposure to sunlight, while other dark spots can be caused by age. Unlike moles, these dark areas are flat and typically harmless.
Melasma is often called the “pregnancy mask” since it often appears on pregnant women due to a change in hormones. It can also show up in patients taking certain types of hormonal contraception. Melasma is exacerbated by exposure to the sun’s UV rays and is usually found on the face, around the nose and mouth.
Laser and light therapies have been proven to effectively remove freckles and dark spots as well as treat pigmentation conditions. A common vitiligo treatment, light therapy uses a narrowband UVB light, which can stop vitiligo from spreading or slow its progression. The XTRAC laser treatment is another way to stop vitiligo and restore the skin’s pigment. The XTRAC laser delivers UVB light through a targeted beam, allowing precision in treating the areas of skin affected by vitiligo. The process takes about 5-10 minutes and is very effective.
Laser treatments can also safely destroy melanocytes (those melanin-producing cells) in the case of hyperpigmentation, like age spots and freckles. It’s important to note that avoiding exposure to the sun and wearing SPF protection can help prevent freckles and dark spots.
Melasma can be treated through manual means like chemical peels, but laser therapy can also help. In this case, a low energy fractionated laser is used on the affected area. High-energy laser treatments should be avoided when treating melasma. Sun protection is also critical in preventing and treating this skin condition.
Depending on the type of laser treatment you receive for your specific condition, you may or may not experience some redness and irritation around the affected area. Additional side effects can include crusting of the skin, which should clear up within a week or two.
Occasionally, a purplish discolouration called purpura may result after laser therapy due to small blood vessels near the skin’s surface that have burst. Laser therapy should not be performed on recently tanned skin or on patients who use retinol products and prescription retinoids. Depending on the pigmentation condition, laser treatments may be needed every few weeks or once every couple of months for maintenance.
Vanguard Dermatology has treated countless cases of vitiligo and hyperpigmentation. Based in the greater New York City area, our board-certified specialists can diagnose pigmentation conditions, make treatment recommendations, and perform laser therapy in our office. Call today to set up a consultation and get your confidence back!