Recently I had discussed laser treatments and laser mole removal. But like anything else in life, not everything is for everyone. So one needs to do in-depth research and work only with well-established doctors and plastic surgeons before making decisions about plastic surgery.
Let me share the experience of Carlita, a 40 year old Latina, who went to get laser resurfacing done to prevent cystic acne breakouts. She tells me, "My doctor said that this laser would also build collagen and improve the overall look of my skin. I was eager to get started. Unfortunately, I now have hyperpigmentation all over my face. I have stripes and swirls all over and I am horrified. My doctor says that it will fade with time. It has been two months already. How much longer do I have to wait to see results? It has been the most depressing, stressful time in my life. I look scary and skin whitening and bleaching creams aren't helping. I would appreciate any feedback or advice on how long should I expect this hyperpigmentation to last."
First of all, you have to understand that I am not a dermatologist or expert in laser procedures. This is not medical advice but some thoughts on how should you go about getting the right treatment. So, here are a few things for you to know about laser surgical procedures:
- There are many types of laser procedures but generally they can be divided into ablative and non-ablative. Non-ablative lasers do not cause many reactions and are used in medical spas and plastic surgeon's office for the so called "lunch hour procedures." They can be used in facials to treat minor wrinkles and expression lines, improve skin texture, and overall rejuvenation. Ablative lasers, such as CO2 laser, have a deeper effect and are used for the treatment of wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and scars including acne scars.
- Lasers are, in general, not recommended for people with darker skin tones. Your doctor should have told you this if you have darker skin like many other Latinas.
- The results of laser treatments take up to 6 months to be noticeable. Also, it takes up to a year to totally heal. In the case of hyperpigmentation, according to many doctors, it can take up to 2 years to disappear, but in most cases in about 3 to 4 months it goes away without any intervention (or in other words, use of skin whitening creams). So your doctor maybe right and the hyperpigmentation will go away in another one or two months.
Hyperpigmentation is the biggest risk in laser treatment. Some people get it but most do not. Most doctors think it is genetic; so if your relatives have it, you have a higher risk.
- I assume that you are using a strong sunblock. Our recommendation will be 45 SPF or higher. Doctors say that from 30 SPF and up, the protection is almost the same. I still believe that the higher the better. You should use it often during the day if you live in a very sunny area. Avoid any skin irritants, such as products with strong fragrance, any AHA or similar peelings.
- It is too early to start applying bleaching/whitening creams. Your skin has to heal and these creams are very irritating. Also, if your skin is darker, try not to use anything containing hydroquinone. Consult your doctor on this.
- My final recommendation will be that you try to go to another doctor for a second opinion and consider legal action against the previous doctor, if appropriate.
I am sorry to hear that you are going through this, but do not get discouraged. Try to use makeup to cover your skin. Go to a Mac or Sephora store and get a makeover. Buy the right foundation and concealers for you. Try to eat right and take all the nutrients your skin needs to heal. The better your health and emotional well being, the better you will heal. And remember, there are many treatments and many more are coming, so if the hyperpigmentation remains you can try something else.
Recommended article: Plastic surgery safety