Is IPL Laser the Best Melasma Treatment?

Hi, I have very large melasma patches on my cheeks and forehead. A consultant at my local hospital prescribed me with quinone cream, which was very difficult for the pharmacist to get hold of as it is banned in our country (U.K). I have been given advice by a local clinic on IPL laser and wondered if this would be good for me.

Doctor Answers 7

IPL is not the right treatment for Melasma

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I have had many patients who were treated with Melasma in the past with the IPL laser and their melasma were made worse and later more difficult to correct because of the previous laser.  I would recommend TCA peels combined with Hydroquinones and Retin-A or Cosmelan peels.  Please consult an expert in melasma for the best treatment.  Best, Dr. Green

Combining Treatments for the Best Outcome for Melasma

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Melasma is a common disorder that is often difficult to treat. It isn't unusual for a patient to become frustrated after trying a variety of treatments in an attempt to obtain satisfactory results. Like most other complicated skin conditions, a combination of treatments paired with the proper skin regimen works best! Topical de-pigmenting agents such as hydroquinone or other melanin inhibitors along with a topical tretinoic acid to increase skin cell turnover, hastens the fading of uneven patches. This commitment along with specific medical-grade chemical peels, appropriate laser treatments and diligent protection , can enhance the likelihood of reducing or resolving melasma !

#melasma #chemicalpeels # unevenskincolor

IPL Treatment for Melasma

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We believe that IPL (and Fraxel for that matter) treatments are the worst choice for Melasma for the vast majority of those that have it. Melasma can be an epidermal (upper skin), dermal (lower skin) or mixed (dermal and epidermal) condition. We have found that the only results we have achieved for treating Melasma were achieved with Q-switched laser technology and only in cases for epidermal Melasma. But so few patients have just epidermal Melasma that many actually get worse after light based treatments such as q-switched lasers, Fraxel and IPL treatments. Every patient that has come to our office after receiving Fraxel or IPL treatments elsewhere has had their Melasma worsen after treatment.

We will begin trials shortly using the Hoya Conbio Medlite C6 (or later) q-switched laser on skin type IV patients (Asian and Hispanic). Although we have used q-switched laser technology for Melasma in the past, the results were mixed with only 50% getting better and the other half getting worse. Our new protocols will take into account research that has been ongoing in Asia for several years with much higher energies and much shorter duration between treatments. Until we complete this research we will continue to treat Melasma with topical (hydroquinone based creams) treatment programs only.

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Melasma and IPL

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IPL treatment can sometimes help melasma  although it is tough. Some alternatives include treatment with hydroquinone and retin-A based products.  These creams provide a slow treatment that should hsow improvements over a few months.

Melasma: Answers to the most common questions

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Melasma is characterized by hyperpigmentation on the face that has four main causes:

  • Genetics
  • Sun exposure
  • Hormones
  • Inflammation

One of the most effective treatments is a topical combination of prescription hydroquinone and tretinoin. Keep in mind that treatments for melasma are not permanent as the above mentioned causes cannot be entirely eliminated.

IPL and Melasma

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IPL is not a good treatment option for melasma.  Using a topical hydroquinone cream with tretinoin (Retin-A) may be a better option. 

IPL to treat Melasma

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IPL is a great option for treating melasma. IPL is sensitive enough to not cause any further damage and can also be combined with various chemical peels to reach the pigmentation occuring in different levels of the dermis. There are certainly other pigment seeking devices that may be a bit more aggressive, but IPL is certainly a safe and effective option to start with. 

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.