Laser Brown Spot Removal for Asian Skin

Having unblemished skin in the Asian community is important. Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Korean, and other ethnicities all value clear skin.  It is important in these Asian cultures, but especially in Korean culture. The quest for clear and flawless skin in the Asian population has led to the development of several cosmetic dermatology treatment options. In the past decade, laser brown spot removal has gained prominence as an effective method to clear the skin of brown spots.


Understanding Brown Spots on Asian Skin

Asian skin is characterized by a higher melanin content. Which provides natural protection against the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. However, this predisposition to melanin production also makes Asians more susceptible to hyperpigmentation issues, including brown patches, dark scars, small moles and age spots and scars.

Causes of Brown Spots

Brown spots, more commonly referred to as liver or sunspots, can develop or worsen in response to numerous factors, including prolonged sun exposure, hormonal changes, and genetic predisposition. These spots are clusters of melanin that accumulate in specific areas, leading to visible discoloration on the skin. They are generally small – less than ½” in diameter, evenly colored and have very well-defined borders.  They develop as a protection mechanism for the skin from UV rays.

There are several other types of brown spots that we treat for Asian skin.  We treat dark marks from acne scars with hydroquinone or q-switched lasers, dark liposuction scars with steroids and q-switched lasers, brown trauma scars with q-switched lasers and hydroquinone, birthmarks with q-switched lasers, melasma with hydroquinone, and DPN (dermatosis papulosa nigra) with a hyfrecator (cauterization).  Regardless of what type of brown spots occur on Asian skin, we have a solution.

Laser Brown Spot Removal Techniques: Laser Technology

Laser brown spot removal utilizes advanced laser technology to target and break down melanin clusters in the skin. Specific wavelengths are chosen to selectively target melanin, allowing the surrounding skin to remain unaffected. This process, called selective photothermolysis, allows us to remove darker brown spots with lasers while leaving the tissue underneath and around the brown spot unharmed. The skin cells that contain melanin are destroyed and new cells return without the memory of that pigment (permanent removal of age spots).

Efficacy on Asian Skin 

The efficacy of laser brown spot removal on Asian skin has been refined over the last 20 years as we have treated virtually every Asian skin type there is. Due to the higher melanin content, selecting the appropriate laser wavelength is crucial to ensure optimal results without causing damage to the surrounding tissue or post laser hyperpigmentation. Our Q-switched Palomar laser, which can mix the 532 and 1064 wavelengths is the most valuable tool we have for delivering highly effective laser brown spot removal in Asian skin types.  We can usually remove age spots permanently in 1-2 visits.

Considerations for Asian Skin

Asian skin encompasses a wide range of tones and types, from fair to olive to darker tones. We tailor the laser treatment to the specific characteristics of an individual’s skin to minimize the risk of complications such as hypo- or hyperpigmentation.

Risk of Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) is relatively high in Asian skin types. These skin types are more prone to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, a condition where dark spots appear at the treatment site following a laser procedure, because of the higher melanin concentration. To mitigate this risk, immediate post-treatment strategies, including topical skin lightening agents and sun avoidance, are recommended.

Advancements in Laser Brown Spot Removal

Recent advancements in laser technology include the introduction of picosecond lasers, which emit pulses measured in trillionths of a second. These lasers provide effective pigmentation fragmentation, including birthmarks, reducing the risk of heat accumulation and collateral damage to surrounding tissues.

Fractional lasers divide the laser beam into thousands of smaller microscopic laser treatment columns, promoting faster healing and reducing downtime in certain situations. Where fractional laser technology has been adapted for brown spot removal, it may offer a gentler approach with less down time than traditional laser resurfacing, while maintaining efficacy for Asian skin.

Pre- and Post-Treatment Care

Preventing further pigmentation post treatment is crucial, and patients are often advised to use broad-spectrum sunscreen with high SPF (50 or more) before and after laser brown spot removal. Sun protection helps safeguard the skin from future UV damage, a primary contributor to brown spot formation.

Topical agents containing ingredients like hydroquinone, kojic acid, and vitamin C are sometimes recommended for pre-treatment to lighten existing pigmentation and at our practice recommended post-treatment to prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and to control melasma.

Challenges and Considerations:

Individual responses to laser treatments can vary, and factors such as skin type, age, and the underlying cause of brown spots contribute to the variability in outcomes. Managing patient expectations and customizing treatment plans are essential in achieving satisfactory outcomes. 

For example, with age spots, it is exceedingly rare that we cannot remove them permanently. But with Melasma, the condition is chronic, and we do not use lasers, but rather topical hydroquinone. 

Downtime and Recovery:

While advancements like fractional lasers aim to minimize downtime, traditional q-switched laser treatments for age spots have some recovery period. Facial treatments usually take about 5-8 days for recovery, while body spots have longer healing times, depending on the location. Patients may experience redness, swelling, darkening, crusting and finally peeling after laser brown spot removal. We communicate this process visually with patients like you so that you understand. What the recovery process looks like and how long it takes.


Since the early 2000’s laser brown spot removal has emerged as a valuable solution for addressing certain types of hyperpigmentation such as age spots and dark scars in Asian skin types. With ongoing advancements in laser technology, coupled with personalized pre- and post-treatment care, we are continually improving the safety and effectiveness of these procedures. 

As research and technology continue to progress, laser brown spot removal will remain a key component in the pursuit of clear and even-toned skin for individuals with of Asian descent. However, a comprehensive understanding of individual skin characteristics, proper laser selection, and attentive post-treatment care are imperative for achieving optimal results and minimizing potential risks.  Since 2004, we have been safely and successfully removing all manner of brown spots on Asian skin.  Call us today to learn more.

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