Are the new pico lasers better for melasma?

Will Pico Discovery Laser be better suited for Asian skin or people with Melasma issues? Thanks!

I’d like to say this at the start. There is no true cure for melasma… yet! We all want one, including me! Although mine has faded and is very well controlled, but my youngest (twins) are now 22. How sad is that! Women all over the world struggle with melasma. Sometime women ask me: “Why not men?” It’s because melasma is related to pregnancy, estrogens, sun exposure and genetic susceptibility. A picosecond is one trillionth of a second. Since a laser is a light wave, this means that a picosecond laser is travelling at an incredibly high speed and is able to target particles (for example like in a tattoo) in the skin in a very exact way. This also applies to melanin particles which are the problem in melasma. For the tech geeks among you (I include myself in this), this means that pico laser light can be more exactly tuned to a wavelength that can more exactly target certain pigment in skin. These pico lasers are mostly used at the moment for tattoo removal, but other uses are common.

Why Pico lasers may be in your future

  • They can be more exactly “tuned” to a particular target in skin.
  • The energy of the laser may be intensified to deliver more energy to the target without harming the outer layers of skin (the epidermis).
  • There is a lot of research in this area, so more uses will be discovered.

Pico lasers and melasma

  • This type of laser may be more helpful in darker skin types. My recommendation is to wait until more data. Many lasers over the years have looked promising (with lots of marketing) for melasma and have been disappointing.
  • Even if you decide on a pico laser treatment, you MUST use the whole melasma prevention protocol before and after.
  • It’s still not a “cure,” because if you remove the brown pigment (melanin), the cells that make the melanin (melanocytes) are still there and can make more pigment.

This is an exciting area of research though… and the future will bring new solutions.

Hope this helps, Dr. I


Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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

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