Pigment laser (Q-switched lasers) selectively target the endogenous (melanin) pigment in the skin. Depending on indication, skin type and phototype, different types of lasers can be used (Q-switched lasers, IPL, fractional CO2 laser, thulium laser).
The main indications are:
- freckles & age spots
- melasma (pregnancy mask)
- post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH)
- nevus of Ota, hamartoma of Beckers
The treatment usually lasts between 15 to 30 minutes (or longer, depending on the indication) and is not very painful. A numbing cream and/or applying cold air are enough to reduce any discomfort.
After the treatment, there is some redness and swelling for a few hours. The pigmentation darkens for a few days and superficial crusts can form, which heal after about a week. The results are often visible quickly after the treatment, but in some cases the best results are seen after some time.
Up to 4 weeks after the treatment, it is absolutely necessary to avoid the sun. In general, it is adviced to use sun protection creams and to wear protective clothing, to avoid recurrences of pigmented spots after a laser treatment.
The number of sessions depends on the nature of the problem to be treated. Superficial pigment lesions improve significantly in just 1 to 2 sessions, for deeper pigment multiple sessions are indicated. Some skin conditions have a high recurrence rate, which may require maintenance sessions.
For more delicate skin types (dark, Asian) and for certain indications (melasma and PIH) we prefer to use laser toning treatments in several sessions, which is a gentler procedure, to avoid increasing the PIH risk.