Dermatology Technique not Good for Dark Skin

Dermatology Technique not Good for Dark Skin

Dark-skinned people undergoing laser skin treatment would do well to skip a standard technique aimed at preventing unwanted discoloration after the procedure.

A new study out of Thailand shows a cooling technique actually promotes discolored skin rather than prevents it.

The research was carried out in about 20 Thai women with a common skin problem called Hori nevus, which characterized by blue-brown spots, on their faces. Each woman was treated by laser, with just one side of the face undergoing the cooling treatment.

Sixty-two percent of the women developed discoloration, also known as hyperpigmentation, on the cooled side of their faces compared to 24 percent on the uncooled side. Most of the discoloration occurred about two weeks after the initial treatment.

The discoloration resolved in all but one patient when researchers checked them again after 12 weeks.

Clinical improvement of the original skin condition was about the same on both sides of the face, suggesting cooling didn't do anything to improve the basic treatment for Hori nevus, report researchers.

The authors note discoloration after laser treatment isn't a life-threatening condition by any means, but it can cause significant psychological distress among those affected. For that reason, they conclude more study is warranted to find out why this discoloration occurs and how to stop it.

Write the investigators, "Of particular interest is the mechanism that underlies the cause of hyperpigmentation after cold air cooling."

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SOURCE: Archives of Dermatology, 2007;143:1139-1143

posted Sept-Oct 2007

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