Can I Use Bleaching Cream (Topical 4% Hydroquinone) and Have Dermabrasion at the Same Time

I have several dark spots result from glycolic acid burn at the spa. I saw dermatologist who prescribes topical 4% hydroquinone bleaching cream. Can I have dermabrasion to improve the pigmentation while I am using bleaching cream?

Doctor Answers 5

Hydroquinone and dermabrasion


Yes, hydroquinone and dermabrasion (or any skin resurfacing modality for that matter) is a relatively common combination especially in patients that have some pigment issue related tendencies.

All the best,

Dr Repta

Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 162 reviews

Combining bleaching cream (4% Hydroquinone) with dermabrasion

In my practice I will often combine prescription strength 4% hydroquinone with microdermabrasion to increase the penetration of the hydroquinone cream which serves to make it much more effective. For your convenience, prescription strength 4% hydroquinone cream can be purchased on line at

Mitchell Schwartz, MD
South Burlington Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Dermabrasion with Hydroquinone

Yes, it is actually a common combination. The two together will aid in exfoliating the upper-most layer of your skin and the dark area with it is helped by the use of Hydroquinone. It is recommended that you repeat your dermabrasion treatments every 4-6 weeks to achieve optimal results.

Ross A. Clevens, MD
Melbourne Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 116 reviews

Dermabrasion and skin pigmentation


  I agree with Dr. Portuese that dermabrasion is not the best treatment for pigmented areas on the face.  Dermabrasion works very well for elevated or depressed scars and for deep creases around the mouth “smokers lines”. 

For my patients with localized areas of hyperpigmentation, I start them on 4% hydroquine for 6 weeks.  If there is improvement, then we continue using the hydroquinone for another 6 weeks.  If the skin is still too pigmented after a trial of hydroquinone, I recommend performing a TCA peel in the office.  A 35% TCA peel should only be performed by a physician and is quite a bit stronger then most resurfacing options available in a medical spa, such as Obagi blue peels, microdermabrasion, glycolic acid peels, ect. 

Regardless of the resurfacing option that is chosen, I make daily use of sunscreen a very important part of the treatment plan.  Sunscreen should be both UV-A and UV-B protective, and preferably contain a metal alloy, such as zinc or aluminum.  I recommend that my patients apply sunscreen every morning, regardless of the forecast.  It is important to recognize that many of these pigmented areas are due to sun exposure.  Especially in San Diego, the value of daily skin protection cannot be overstated.

Christopher Kolstad, MD
San Diego Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

Dermabrasion not done to improve pigmentation

Dermabrasion is not used to improve pigmentation on the face.  A dermabrasion may cause further hyperpigmentation and darkening, especially if the patient is on hormones or gets sun exposure.  For a glycolic acid burn at a mini spa continue to use the hydroquinone to reduce the hyperpigmentation.  

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 143 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.