Is Hydroquinone Safe to Use Before Ablative Fraxel Repair?

I am Asian planning to get Fraxel repair. I was prescribed with bleaching cream "hydroquinone" for 5 weeks. A friend was informed by the doctor not to use any irritating products at least a week prior to the her non-ablative Fraxel restore. Hydroquinone makes the skin extremely sensitive to the light, if I used it up until the day I do the Repair to prevent PIH, wouldn't this be an issue? Should I give the skin some time to recover from the irritation before heading to the laser center?

Doctor Answers 4

Hydroquinone prior to laser treatment

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With Asian skin types, it is very important to down regulate your natural pigment with the hydroquinone prior to the laser treatment. I would follow the advise given to you to continue treatment up until the laser treatment.  If you are sensitive to the sun, you should be staying away from direct sun exposure and using a zinc oxide based sunscreen to protect your skin daily from incidental light. My advise would be to listen to YOUR doctor's advice.  Hope this helps. 

Colorado Springs Dermatologic Surgeon

Hydroquinone is safe before ablative fraxel laser

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Hydroquinone with retinoic acid creams are safe and effective at preventing PIH after ablative laser resurfacing. I would never recommend ablative laser in Asian skin types without pretreatment using hydroquinone and retinoic acid. Even though they are irritating and dry the skin they are important at regulating pigmentation after laser treatment. It is safe to use up until the day of your laser treatment and I would actually even recommend resuming hydroquinone use 3 weeks after laser treatment when new healthy skin is present.

Kristina Tansavatdi, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Use Hydroquinone Pre-Fraxel Treatment

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I, too, recommend the use of Hydroquinone 4-5 weeks prior to a Fraxel procedure for all types of skin, especially Asian or darker colored skin.  You are at a higher risk for PIH if Hydroquinone is not used.  If the topical irritates your skin, there are other products you may use although Hydroquinone seems to be the the more "universally used" product.  You could discontinue the produce two days pre-op if sensitive is occurring.

THank you!

Nana N. Mizuguchi, MD, FACS
Louisville Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 55 reviews

The importance of Hydroquinone before laser

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Not only is hydroquinone safe to use before Fraxel laser,  but in my practice it is required. Hydroquinone controls repigmentation following laser and will benefit your overall results  in pigment reduction long term following the laser.  With Asian skin in particular this is important as you are most likely prone to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation which can occur after many different types of laser treatment.  This type of hyperpigmentation can be very difficult to control and hydroquinone along with mild topical steroids can be effective in controlling this problem following laser. Hydroquinone alone should not be creating skin or sun sensitivity.  You should check the particular formulation which you are using as it most likely contains something else which could be irritating your skin.  

Catherine Durboraw, MD
Idaho Falls Oculoplastic Surgeon

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.