Q.) What is the difference between hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is the darkening of areas of the skin that is mostly non-permanent. It can be caused by sun exposure, medications, hormones, or genetics, although some laser treatments can often cause temporary hyperpigmentation as patients’ skin heals. Hypopigmentation is the permanent lightening or removal of pigment from areas of the skin which often develops as the skin reacts to trauma (such as a burn, some scars, etc.).
Q.) What causes hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation after laser cosmetic treatments?
Because laser skin treatments are light-based cosmetic procedures, they affect the way skin responds to light. Cosmetic laser treatments penetrate the top layers of the skin to affect the inner layers either to remove hair or to stimulate collagen growth, but it also temporarily weakens the skin’s defense mechanisms which can cause the skin to react differently to sunlight than it normally would.
Q.) How do I prevent hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation after laser hair removal?
Preventing pigment changes in your skin after a laser treatment is as easy as wearing a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more and covering up areas of your body that have been treated if you can’t avoid sun exposure. If you’ve just had laser hair removal on your legs, for example, we recommend you wear pants or slather on the sunscreen if you plan on showing some leg to protect your skin from the sun.
Q.) Are hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation permanent?
Many laser treatment patients experience discoloration of the skin for a few hours to a couple of weeks after cosmetic laser treatments. However, not following the laser aftercare recommendations of Laser Lights Cosmetic Laser Center’s providers increases the chance that permanent pigment changes will occur.