Can laser treatments or “laser facials” trigger melasma?

Hi Dr. I., I am a 29-year-old caucasian female with fair skin that may burn but also tans, dark hair, and dark eyes (half Middle Eastern). I received two laser facials (a BBL and a pro-fractional lite) facial about 10 days ago. Prior to the facial, my facialist questioned me about some brown spots on my forehead. She specifically asked me if I had recently begun birth control bills (which I had not). The day after my facial, I noticed a patch of what appears to be melasma (very mild brown discoloration) on my forehead. I did not notice this before and believe the laser facials caused the pigmentation I now notice. I have several questions: 1. Can laser facials "trigger" melasma, or is it possible the facial just pulled excess pigment to the surface of the skin? 2. If my pigmentation is, indeed, melasma, is progressive discoloration an inevitable outcome, or do you think it is likely I can prevent further discoloration by utilizing some of the suggestions (such as layering various sunscreens and avoiding sun exposure) stated elsewhere in your blog? I have currently been using sunscreen, am avoiding sun exposure during peak hours, and wear a hat with a wide brim (which actually fully covers the current pigmentation I do have). Thank you.

YES!!  And beware the latest trend of the website saying the doctor is “board certified”  but conveniently not mentioning board certified in WHAT??   It doesn’t do you any good if an anesthesiologist or family practice doctor has suddenly decided to pretend to you and the public to be a dermatologist!

Lasers and “laser facials”  absolutely can trigger melasma in some cases or aggravate it.  There is plenty of medical literature regarding complications related to melasma and lasers.    It’s discussed at almost every dermatology or laser conference I’ve ever been to both here in the U.S. and in Europe.   It’s another reason why………….it’s not a good idea to get laser treatments at spas, medispas or any clinic where there isn’t a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon on site most of the time.     Please see a dermatologist to help you diagnose the problem accurately and control or reduce the problem before it gets worse.  More on melasma.

Hope this helps,   Dr. I

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

Ask me your skincare question!

Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin, and I believe that consumers need and deserve a medically trained and unbiased skincare advocate.

  • All our content is written and researched by myself and my trained staff.
  • My medical office in Seattle has experience treating thousands of patients.
  • This site is not affiliated or financially tied to any product line.
Ask Me Something
SkinTour Skincare
One of the best investments in your skin is your daily skincare. Why? Because you can prevent many problems with blotchy skin color, lack of glow, texture, some types of acne, and fine lines with good skincare products. You can also correct some of these problems with effective skincare products. Great skincare is often more expensive because quality ingredients are expensive. Some companies spend on research/development which benefits all of us and adds to the cost. Are they worth it? In general - yes!