Fraxel Laser Vs IPL for Dark Circles

I know IPL is aimed to lighten pigmentation, however, I have type 4(Olive) skin tone that would not be quite proper for IPL. Therefore, I am thinking trying Fraxel instead of IPL if it does help lessening the darkness.

Does anyone have any advice or remark for my idea? Namely, which laser is better for my dark circles, Fraxel or IPL?

Doctor Answers 1

Neither are great options.

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Dear Clark

In trying to choose between these two options, you are essentially practicing medicine on yourself. It is not fair to ask you to do this. However, it does seem hard to find a good doctor who makes sense. So I understand why you feel you need to do your homework.

Given how dark your skin is, IPL will not be your treatment. It is possible to treat Type IV skin with IPL but the energy setting has to be so low that very little will be done even with a series of 6 or 7 treatments.

Fraxel which is fractional laser resurfacing is gentle on the darker skin but there is no free lunch with skin resurfacing. I think you might get a mild improvement with Fraxel but I think overall, you will be disappointed with the results.

It is important to understand why you have a dark circle. Without a photo or a personal consultation, it is hard to know your specific issue. In general however, dark circles are a function skin optics and not extra pigment. The skin overlying the dark circle is very thin and compared to the adjacent cheek, there is no fat under the skin. The fat in the cheek acts like a reflector bouncing light that come through the skin back into the skin. This makes the skin look luminous and lighter. In the dark circle area there is no fat under the skin for this purpose. Instead just underneath the skin is a thin muscle called the orbicularis oculi muscle. The muscle is a dark red and it absorbs light that penetrates the skin. Less light is bounced back into the skin. Compared to the cheek, the dark circle area looks, well, dark.

The best solutions for the dark circle involves redraping the skin and this is most easily done with under eye fillers. My preferred agent for this is Restylane.

However, as I said before, the best option is a personal consultation with a surgeon who knows the midface area.

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