Is red or dark skin normal during the healing process after laser skin resurfacing? When will the normal color return? (photo)

I had sciton halo laser skin resurfacing on my face 3.5 weeks ago. They used the erbium laser as spot treatment to remove dark raised bumps. I have olive toned skin and I have noticed that as the weeks have gone by the areas that underwent deeper treatment are turning red and dark and some freckles at these treated areas are returning. I am currently on 3.5% hydroquinone. Is normal to the healing process for my skin tone?

Doctor Answers 7

PIH and laser in darker skin types

This is commonly seen in Ethnic skin types, and the use of bleaching creams, SPF, and gentle lasers such as Clear and Brilliant or Picosecond Focus can fade these areas faster. 

All the best

Dr Davin Lim
Laser and aesthetic dermatologist

Brisbane Dermatologist
4.7 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

Hyperpigmentation Can Happen After Laser Resurfacing

I have ample experience using the Halo hybrid laser, and it is highly likely that patients with olive skin will see PIH (Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation) following their treatments. This is common with all lasers or energy treatments. Knowing this is why pretreatment of the skin is crucial to minimizing PIH. Ideally, you would have begun using the hydroquinone several weeks before your treatment. I also provide a post-procedure skin care kit to all patients to help manage these aspects of recovery. Your dark spots should begin fading soon but may take up to a year to fully resolve. Remember to stay out of the sun or wear a quality, broad spectrum sunscreen.

Otto Weiglein, FRCSC
Burlington Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Laser Resurfacing After Care

With any laser resurfacing, your skin care before and after can really optimize your outcome.  Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation can be a side effect, especially in olive skin.  Being on hydroquinone is helpful, and it's a good idea to talk with  your treatment provider about starting on a retinol product to encourage cellular turnover.  Sometimes, lighter maintenance treatments can also help, but the most important think is protecting your fresh skin protected from the sun, which can exacerbate the pigmentation.  Again, your provider will be able to help you best with a specific treatment plan.   

Steven M. Gitt, MD, FACS (in memoriam)
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Post Care with Halo

The redness is expected after resurfacing. Hydroquinone is a good start to lighten the darker spots. Try to use a physical block to protect your skin.

Robert G. Aycock, MD, FACS
Bay Area Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Laser Resurfacing and Hyperpigmentation

about 3-6 weeks after resurfacing you can get hyperpigmentation. I suggest you should get an appropriate skin care regimen and sun protection.  Clear and brilliant laser with microneedling/PRP help this resolve more quickly.  Best, Dr. Emer.

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 196 reviews

Healing process following laser skin resurfacing on dark skin

Thank you for sharing your concerns and posting your photo. You appear to be healing normally following your laser treatment. Continue using the Hydroquinone (as directed by your doctor), sunglasses and sunblock, Make sure to see your doctor for follow up. Good luck.

James R. Gordon, MD, FACS, FAAO
New York Oculoplastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 144 reviews

Post laser hyperpigmentation

It is common to see some hyperpigmentation in patients with darker/olive skin tones after laser.  It usually starts to fade after a few weeks, and the hydroquinone should help.  Make sure you use sunblock too.  

John J. Martin, Jr., MD
Coral Gables Oculoplastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 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.