Laser Hair Removal: What Is Hypo and Hyperpigmentation?

November 3, 2010 in Hair Removal 101,Laser hair removal

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Laser hair removal when done by a skilled, experienced practitioner is a safe and efficient treatment that leaves nothing but slight redness in the treated area. When a practitioner is inexperienced the risk of side effects can be slightly higher. Hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation are the two names of conditions that can arise after a laser hair removal session. While these conditions are rare, they occur when too much of the laser is absorbed by the skin, rather than the hair. And while the names sound similar these conditions are complete opposites of each other.

The skin has a certain amount of melanin (color) in it. And a decrease in melanin will lead to lighter skin while an increase will lead to darker skin. Hypopigmentation refers to the decrease of melanin while hyperpigmentation refers to the increase of melanin. Both hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation are believed to be caused by an incorrect laser type or wrong settings according to the client’s skin tone. Even though these two conditions are very rare when it comes to laser hair removal, someone who has them can consult an experienced dermatologist to get help. Time and patience is important when recovering from any of these conditions.

Hypopigmentation looks like white spots and can occur on any part of the face or body. This condition is usually not permanent, but it can take a long time for the skin to re-pigment itself. During this time, someone affected with hypopigmentation can cover the white spots with makeup. Hypopigmentation occurs more commonly if there has been a burn. Sun exposure can help in the healing of hypopigmentation, but there is little else one can do to aid the skin in its healing.

Hyperpigmentation is dark spots that can also occur anywhere on the face and body, and this condition is usually less likely to go away on its own. This happens when the laser stimulates melanin production. However, there are several different treatments, such as bleaching creams, skin lightening products or chemical peels that can aid in the removal of these spots.

Individuals with dark or tanned skin are more likely to experience these conditions, although there are today laser hair removal machines that can treat those skin types as well. Anyone who is concerned about these or any other side effects should do a test patch first, or perhaps treat a less visible area, before deciding to treat more visible ones.

There are several key factors to avoiding these two conditions as well as any other side effects. The first one is to carefully choose the laser hair removal clinic to perform the treatments. The second most important factor is to establish whether you are a good candidate for laser hair removal or not, and whether the clinic in question has laser hair removal devices that can treat your specific hair and skin type. An experienced laser hair removal practitioner will take steps to avoid any type of side effects.

Photo via laserconnection

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