Dark Skins: You CAN have laser treatments if you have dark skin
2 May 2019
There once was a time when treating dark skins with a laser was very tricky. This is because many older lasers were designed to target darker pigment and their ‘eye’ could suss it out via the contrast against the lighter colour around it. If you had tanned or dark skin that has a lot more melanin (the pigment in your skin), it would “confuse” the laser. The laser would then end up hitting healthy skin instead of its target. And you’d run the risk of burning and scarring.
Dark skins and laser technology
Fortunately, the wonderfully innovative world of tech has come an incredibly long way and now there are lots of lasers that are very safe – as well as effective – to use on darker skin types. You still need to use the right one, however. For example, there are some very advanced, next-generation IPL (intense pulse light) machines out there, but they’re still only recommended for those with lighter coloured skin. If used on someone with dark skin, it can burn, scar or cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). The latter is a dark mark that appears after the skin is injured in a way that causes it to inflame. In fact, even a bad pimple can leave a PIH mark in its wake! This is why you have to be careful.
Dark skins – treatment options
See the light
At Skin Renewal, our highly skilled doctors and therapists have lots of experience working with every skin type and know that darker skin requires a special kind of care. They know exactly which lasers and light treatments will be able to give you the results you desire but without the risk. Also, it’s not just a case of choosing the right machine. Your doctor and therapist need to know which settings will work best. Depending on the device, darker skin types often require a lower setting, but one that’s still very effective. Our team knows how to find the sweet spot!
As far as tech goes, we have several laser and light devices that work brilliantly on darker skin. These include Cutera’s Titan and Laser Genesis devices that, despite being fabulously efficient, are both much less invasive than the machines that came before them.
Out darn spot!
We use our laser and light devices to treat darker skin types for a myriad of concerns that range from sagging and wrinkles to acne scarring and stretch marks. Still, one of the biggest issues facing those with darker skin is pigmentation, particularly melasma.
and PIH, and that’s where our Laser Genesis device really shines.
As it gently heats up the dermis, it causes cavitation bubbles that disrupt the unwanted dermal pigment. This breaks it into smaller particles that are then able to move upwards to the surface of your skin. Once this happens, it’s easy to get rid of them via simple exfoliation.
Laser Genesis can also be used to diminish acne scarring and minimise the appearance of enlarged pores, fine lines, wrinkles, keloids and stretch marks. You’d need about 8 to 10 treatments, but the great results are worth the wait.
Hair today, gone tomorrow
Back in the day, IPL was the go-to treatment for hair removal but, as we said, it’s not a good idea for those with darker skin tones. These machines caused so much damage, in fact, that the myth that dark coloured skin can’t benefit from laser hair removal perpetuates to this day! Happily, this isn’t the case.
Cutera Nd: YAG laser
There are now several laser devices that can safely and effectively permanently remove hair on all skin tones. The first being our brilliant CoolGlide Excel. The second, a Cutera Nd: YAG laser that’s swept just about every industry award under the sun. It works on all skin colours, including the dark skin – Fitzpatrick Skin Type 6 – as well as tanned skin.
As the name implies, the laser’s handpiece cools your skin so it gets the job done without the pain associated with IPL. If anything, you might experience a very mild pinch or sting. However, these are few and far in between and you won’t require any topical anaesthetic. Afterwards, your skin might be a little red. But, this fades fast and you can return to all your normal activities the moment you leave the clinic.
The bottom line
For dark skins and have always thought you wouldn’t be a good candidate for laser and light treatments, you’re wrong. There are lots of devices out there that can do a great job of rejuvenating your skin. They deliver great results with dramatically reduced risks even for dark skins. You can even undergo laser treatment for permanent hair removal! Ultimately, it all comes down to using the right machine in the right setting and a skilled pair of hands. If you’re wanting to benefit from the brilliance of laser and light treatments, speak to a doctor or therapist.