In the past decade, melasma has become more frequent and more individuals are using advanced technology to treat it. Laser toning or laser facials have grown in popularity globally as the quick method to reduce the appearance of melasma, especially among the Asian Elite in Asian countries despite the high cost of the procedure. Many are after results with the expectations that the dark skin patches would disappear with aggressive and frequent laser sessions, even as many as 2-3 times each week. At LeCerre Modern Skincare, we ask the question, does this form of aggressive laser treatment truly work in reducing melasma or does it have potentially negative consequences? We turn to Dr. Brian Tian from Singapore General Hospital and his research published in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology to find the answer.
In July 2007, the research paper “The Asian Problem of Frequent Laser Toning for Melasma” was published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. In this study, Dr. Brian Tian followed 23 Chinese patients with Fitzpatrick skin type III with bilateral malar or centrofacial pattern of melasma. Each of these patients had undergone laser toning treatment three times per week for two months and no further treatment for the remaining four months. During each laser toning session, the laser (1064nm Q-switched Nd YAG) is passed multiple times over the areas of concern until a clinical endpoint is reached. This endpoint ranges from mild erythema (skin redness) to petechiae (tiny, circular, non-raised patches that appear on the skin due to bleeding underneath the skin).
23 patients went through severe treatment over 6 months to try and cure their melasma. Here were the results:- All 23 patients developed clinically visible, mottled hypopigmentation at the end of the 2 months (white spots on the skin)
- Clinically, all 23 patients had lightening of the melasma patches when shown comparison photographs
- Overall, patient satisfaction was poor despite the improvement in the existing melasma
- All patients overall felt that they looked worse than before
We acknowledge that this study of the 23 individuals is limited since it was such a short time with limited subjects; however, based on the results, we can’t help but advise anyone with Fitzpatrick skin type III or higher to be cautious with the use of laser. At LeCerre, we have a skin care philosophy to understand the skin’s native function and biochemistry and prefer a topical approach to aid in the skin’s self-healing. Melasma is a difficult skin condition that has multiple sources of aggravation and unfortunately, may stay with you permanently as this is the skin’s form of expression to protect the body. Therefore, we believe a mild and easy to use daily serum is the best approach to reducing the appearance of melasma without the harsh side effects. The Rapid Brightening Serum blends high-quality active ingredients that synergistically work to boost skin luminosity and reduce the appearance of dark pigments by inhibiting tyrosinase, a critical enzyme in making melanin in your skin.