I was burned by laser hair removal all over my legs, when the blisters healed the area under the burns lost all pigment. I've done microdermabrasion a few times but that will only temporarily even out the skin color. Is there anything permanent that can be done to get the skin pigment back? What are potential treatments? My goal is to just go on a beach vacation and not look like a tortured person - I'm young and I'm just hoping to be in the sun again! (with sun screen, of course).
Is It Possible to Regain Pigment in Skin After Massive Laser Hair Removal Burns?
Doctor Answers 8
Pigment loss , scarring
Restoring lost pigment is very difficult,particularly if there is scarring.There is one treatment that I have used over the past2 -3 years which has actually been very successful.The prescription product, Latisse , which is FDA approved for stimulating growth of eyelash hairs , has a possible side-effect of stimulating skin pigmentation if it comes in contact repeatedly with the skin.I have asked my patients to use this product twice a day on the spots of pigment loss to take advantage of this pigment stimulating side effect. It has worked in over 75% of patients that I have tried it on.It usually takes 2-3 months to see a response and continued use to some extent is probably necessary.
Hypopigmentation or depigmentation after laser hair removal
It does not appear that you had a typical laser used for your hair removal as the spot size is very small and round. I am not able to determine what wavelength the laser emits but your pigment in the epidermis did absorb the laser energy preferentially over the hair shaft pigment in the dermis thereby creating a surface change. A wood's light examination can sometimes aid the dermatologist in determining if this is a pigment total loss or just a reduction in pigment, the latter having a greater chance of self correction. There are procedures used for the correction of stable vitiligo (autoimmune pigment loss) by the placement of epithelial grafts most recently shown to be obtained by light sanding on donor skin and placed on dermabraded recipient skin. This may be very tedious but may help if your condition is found to be permanent. But give it time, and use sunblock so as not to get sunburned on the pigment loss sites.
Is it possible to regain pigment after laser hair removal burns
The good news is that from your photos it looks like your skin is repigmenting on its own. Stay out of the sun as the lighter areas are more susceptible to sun damage and also will show up more when the surrounding areas tan.
The re-pigmentation is a slow phenomenon. In some patients laser-induced hypopigmentation is permanent. Usually repigmentation happens when the melanocytes (pigment producing cells) come into a lightened area from either the hair follicles or the surrounding normal skin. It takes some time.
There are some reports that hypopigmentation after laser burns may respond to treatment with a narrow band UVB laser.
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Pigment Loss from Laser Hair Removal
There is always the possibility that the skin will re pigment itself in time so things can gradually improve. Artificial tanning creams can cover up things nicely while you're waiting.
Post inflammatory hypopimentation- pigment loss- may be permanent after laser hair removal.
Post inflammatory hypopimentation- pigment loss- may be permanent. However, there are short wavelength laser that may induce repigmentation.
The pictures that you have posted demonstrate hypopigmentation due to deep dermal injury. Though these will improve with time, they may not completely disappear.
Treatment for area of previous laser burning
If the area is hypopigmented, as the last picture shows, using a psoralen class of topical medication, such as methoxalin, and exposing to UV light could possibly augment the repigmentation process if you were a candidate. Multiple methoxalin treatments would likely be necessary. If the area is still repairing, you will likely see more pigment return over time. Best of luck to you! - Dr Boris