15% TCA Peel Vs. IPL for Hyperpigmentation on Cheeks?

Is one treatment (TCA peel or IPL) more effective than the other for treating hyperpigmentation? I was told 3-4 peels would be sufficient, but I'm wondering if laser is any better.

Doctor Answers 7

Find a competant provider and go with their advice

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

It is so hard to definitively say whether TCA peels or IPL treatments would work better for you.

Hyperpigmentation is frequently difficult to treat ,and plan on maintaining the result with good medical grade skin care, sun screen use and sun avoidance as much as possible.

I have seen peels and skin care work for pigment as well as IPL. IPL or Intense Pulsed Light, technically is not laser energy but light based energy. it works well in most patients for brown and red color. It may (just like the peels) take a series of 2-4 treatments.

The best advice i can give you is to find a practicioner that is comfortable and competant with both treatments, have them thoroughly evaluate your skin and make a recommendation based on your skin type.

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

Depends on Practioner

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Both the 15% TCA peel and an IPL can give you a good end result. As someone who has utlized both, I am a bit more confident in the results of the IPL. As with many procedures, both of these are less risky the fairer the skin. In fact those with Fitzpatrick Type 5 and above skin should not have an IPL done at all and a TCA peel should be done by someone very experienced in darker skin tones.

Arnold R. Oppenheim, MD
Virginia Beach Dermatologist

Peel Vs. IPL for Hyperpigmentation on Cheeks?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Before you spend $$ on peels or IPL, try these topicals.

This is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). 

I recommend Melarase AM and Melarase PM creams from Kare Skin as well as a broad spectrum sunblock like Spectrase. Bothe are from Kare Skin. Scler-x post inflammatory hyperigmentation relief complex is a great supplement to take as well. See link below. 

Treating hyperpigmentation

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
All hyperpigmentation is not the same. If you have melasma, peels are a better option. If you have only lentigines then IPL would be more effective. Melasma is triggered by hormonal changes (such as pregnancy) in conjunction with sun exposure. It tends to cause brown patches on the skin. Lentigines are freckles that are sun induced and occur without hormonal influence. Laser and light therapy (IPL) work extremely well for lentigines but may cause melasma to worsen.

Joshua L. Fox, MD
Long Island Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Cheek Hyperpigmentation Safer to Treat with IPL than with Chemical Peel

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Of course the benefits and safety of either IPL or Chemical Peel depends on the expertise of your doctor-botth procedures can work.

Before any treatment I advise a month or two of treatment with topical skin cream gtherapy consisting of Retin A and 4% Hydroquinone. This bleaching regimen lessens the intensity of the pigment and makes treatment easier and safer.

One notable side effect of Chemical Peel, especially in people prone to Hyperpigmentation, is in fact PIH or Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation which is a response to the inflammation caused by the peeling agent.

In my practice I use IPL -Intense Pulsed Light or Photofacial treatments because in my experience there is less risk of PIH.

IPL or 15% TCA peels for hyperpigmentation can produce similar results

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

IPL or 15% TCA peels for hyperpigmentation can produce similar results. Both treatments are about as effective for hyperpigmentation. However, if it is a diffuse hyperpigmentation the IPL might be a better treatment since there will be less downtime. However, in some cases where an IPL does not work, a stronger solution of TCA typically 35% can be effective in improving the hyperpigmentation but more risks occur with the chemical peel in either the higher or even lower strength.

Scott Trimas, MD
Jacksonville Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Chemical peels are probably the most consistent for good results

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Hyperpigmentation of the cheeks is a difficult and frustrating problem. Several light chem peels such as Jessner's solution or 10-15% TCA do well in most cases. Plan on 3-6 peels at every 2-4 week intervals @$250-350 each. IPLs help more than lasers as a rule but both are unpredictable and can cause the dark patchs to worsen more so than chemical peels do.

You will of course need to wear sunscreens and start a bleaching cream after 1 week after each peel. Do expect the dark spots to return in the future. They always do but if you use a prescription bleaching cream 1-2 times a week forever then you can slow down the pigmentation from returning as fast.

David Hansen, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.