Patients of ethnic skin types, i.e. patients with Type 3, 4, 5 and 6 skin that are of Asian, mediterranean, middle eastern and certainly African descent. There are certain parameters and rules to follow when opting for a laser treatment for dark skin. The reason is that, with olive/brown/black skin type, we pigment very easily and using lasers causes minor injuries that could lead to PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) or if you go too aggressive with the lasers, it may cause hypopigmentation (white spots)
The safest laser treatment for dark skin types are Fraxel 1927, the Picosecond Laser technology, and Erbium based Lasers. The safe laser hair removal treatment is Soprano Ice Platinum ND-YAG laser. The laser treatments that are not safe for dark or asian skin are the IPL and ablative Co2 lasers. Co2 lasers work much better for deep scars but have a high risk in dark/asian skin types, so the Picosecond laser treatment is preferred and safe for ethnic skin.
Fraxel Lasers come in 4 different wavelengths:
- Clear Brilliance - 1440 wavelength
- Fraxel Dual - 1550 wavelength
Parameters of this laser treatment have to be much lower compared to caucasian skin types.
- Clear and Brilliant 1927 Permia - Safest for dark skin
This wavelength can be used for all skin tones from Type 1 all the way to Type 6. With darker skin tones, dermatologists and aestheticians use 1/4th of the energy because we do not want hyperpigmentation or color changes.
- Fraxel Repair (Co2) - Super dangerous for dark skin
Fractional laser resurfacing using Co2 and erbium is great for acne scar remodelling and great for collagen regeneration. The downside of Co2 is that it has a longer downtime.
Clear and Brilliant 1927 Permia
Also called a mini fraxel, it is a non-ablative laser. A low powered laser does not necessarily mean it is bad, and mini fraxel delivers 5 mini joules (a quarter of normal fraxel laser) of energy. This is an ideal treatment for dark skin types and to treat certain conditions like melasma or pigmentation.
Permia delivers fractionated laser beams into the skin which allows us to treat pigmentation very gently and it also allows you to infuse ascorbic acid (vitamin c) or collagen building peptides like copper peptides serums and even fading creams. It takes about 15 minutes for this laser treatment with no pain since a numbing cream is used. Patients usually require about 3 to 6 treatments of Permia, about 2 week apart. A very gentle no downtime treatment for dark skin.
Fractional Pico Laser
A picosecond laser is one of the best choices of laser treatments for dark skin and specially made for pigmentation removal for dark and asian skin types. Picolaser is safe laser technology for removing dark spots, skin rejuvenation, collagen production, removing fine lines and treating benign scars to some extent. This is the only laser treatment in the world right now which will give skin rejuvenation and pigment reduction with virtually no downtime. There is no flaking or peeling of skin and you heal within 12 hours. The older version of this is called nanosecond laser.
At least 3 Pico Laser treatments are recommended for the best results, however, you can see considerable improvements in your skin texture, scars and skin tone with just one treatment. The treatment lasts for about 30 minutes with zero downtime and it doesn’t hurt. It just feels like little rubber snaps on the face.
Pico laser targets the pigments and the melanin, causing a pressure wave effect that stimulates collagen. The treatment is not painful as a numbing cream is used and the treatment is done within 10 minutes. Your face will be red for approximately 6 to 12 hours. The results are Pore reduction and fading of pigmentation and wrinkles.
If you don’t have access to a Picosecond laser treatment, an alternative would be using an old fashioned dermal toning - using nanosecond technology. Nanosecond laser is cheaper than picosecond laser, however, the collagen remodelling is not as good compared to the picosecond laser treatment. It also takes a lot longer, sometimes even 10 treatments with each treatment 2 to 3 weeks apart
An Erbium Fractional laser is safer for rejuvenation and heals faster with less downtime and less chances of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This can also be used for scars but Co2 is better for scars
Dangerous Laser Treatments for Dark Skin
- IPL (Intense Pulsed Light)
- Co2 Ablative Fractional Laser
Safe Laser Hair Removal for Dark Skin
The way Lasers work is it targets the pigment in the hair follicle and heats it up and hair no longer grows from that hair follicle. It works perfectly if you have dark hair on a fair skin, as it is very easy for the laser to focus on that hair follicle and destroy it. With dark skin, it becomes difficult for the laser to target the hair follicle and may end up burning the skin leading to pigmentation, dark spots, white spots and/or scarring
The only laser hair removal treatment that is safe for dark skin is ND-YAG. It is a long wave laser which is 1064 nanometers. It bypasses the melanin in the skin and goes straight to the hair follicle, reducing the chances of burning and pigmentation. Soprano Ice Platinum ND-YAG laser also has a cooling system which reduces any chances of any burns from the thermal energy. You will probably need 4 to 6 treatments spaced about 4 to 6 weeks apart.
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