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Can I get laser treatment if I have dark skin? The answer to the question is absolutely you can have laser treatments if you have medium or dark skin. We’ve heard so many times from patients with olive (Asian, Hispanic) or darker (African American) skin that a medical office told them they could not have laser treatments because of their skin type. Perhaps that patient may not be able to have laser treatments with that practitioner, but, at Celibre, we’ve been successfully treating darker skin types with lasers since 2004.
How are we able to treat darker skin with lasers when others cannot?
There are two key issues when it comes to treating dark skin and why many practices will tell you it can’t be done. The first is experience. Because our office is in Los Angeles (Torrance), we see ALL skin types all the time. In addition, we treat a wide variety of skin conditions includingage spots, wrinkles, excess hair, acne scars and birthmarks. These skin concerns are not limited to lighter skin types so treating them for all skin types for over 20 years has given us a depth of knowledge unmatched in our area.
Technology matters. At Celibre, we have over 20 different lasers because we offer many different treatments for many different skin conditions. The wide variety of skin types combined with the broad service offering means that we have a lot of laser technology to support our efforts. While anyone can turn on a laser and fire it, experience and skills will determine if you get the right outcome, or worse if you have a serious side effect. Our broad array of laser technology combined with decades of laser experience mean that, regardless of your skin type, we can help with your concern.
What is my skin type?
In our industry, there is a measure of the tone of your skin and it’s called the Fitzpatrick skin typing scale. The scale goes from skin type 1-6, and generally speaking, follows the outline below.
Skin type 1: Caucasian – light Northern European
Skin type 2: Caucasian – European
Skin type 3: Caucasian – Mediterranean, Eastern European, Italian, Greek
Skin type 4: Asian, Hispanic, East Indian, Light African American mixes
Skin type 5: African American
Skin type 6: Dark African
Your skin type (or color) is very important in determining which lasers are appropriate for you and can dictate which treatments are available. Your skin type is determined by evaluating the amount and density of melanin (pigment). During the consultation, we will often ask questions about your skin’s behavior in the sun, ethnicity or race, and your response to previous laser treatments. This helps us determine what skin type (color) you are as the answer is not always clear cut.
What lasers are most appropriate for dark skin?
If you have dark skin, there are many lasers and treatments that are safe for you. Generally, devices that use a longer wavelength of light are
considered safe or safer for dark skin. The most common laser you willhear about (not brand but type) is the “Yag” laser for African American
skin. Yag lasers (1064 nanometer invisible light) are used extensively inour practice for laser hair removal, tattoo removal, acne scars, birthmarks, sunspots, spider veins, fine lines and wrinkles, pore size andmore. Because the light is not visible to the naked eye, it can pass
through the melanin contained in the outer layer of skin to affect thetarget tissue below.
Can laser resurfacing be used for dark skin?
Yes. The challenge is that most practices use CO2 for their resurfacing. AtCelibre, we use Erbium lasers for our resurfacing procedure as there is much less risk of side effects than with CO2. In the before and afterphotos, you skin see all skin types treated with our erbium lasers for conditions like wrinkles and acne scars, the most common condition associated with laser resurfacing.
Can I get laser treatment if I am Hispanic, Asian or Black?
Yes to all three and also if you are South American, Central American, EastIndian, Pakistani, Persian, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Filipino, American Indian, etc. Etc. To reiterate, because we have the broad suite of laser technology and the decades of experience we do, treating all skin types with lasers is possible.
What are possible side effects from treating dark skin with lasers?
All lasers have the potential to create side effects for any skin type. So, while the risk of a side effect may be higher with certain lasers for darkerskin types, it’s lower for certain lasers as well. For example, the Nd:Yg(Yag) laser reference above is extremely safe for dark skin, including very dark African skin. The reason being that it is invisible light. For other types of lasers, the risk is a lot higher for darker skin types and this is where experience comes in. Treating sunspots in a mixed (½ black, ½white) patient can be extremely difficult. But we have done it successfully for many years.
What about IPL for dark skin?
It’s confusing to consumers, but IPL (which stands for Intense Pulsed Light) is not laser technology. Lasers are more powerful, but more importantly, more precise in their targeting of parts of the skin such asindividual hairs or spider veins. For this reason, IPL has a higher risk of side effects with darker skin, and we do not use it as often as our lasers. Also, because most IPL machines use a large spot size, it is difficult to treat something like a small pea sized age spot. The treatment ends upcovering too much area which can contribute to side effects. With our lasers, we have spot sizes as small as 1 millimeter.
At Celibre Medical, we’re experts at using more than 20 different lasers to achieve excellent results for patients with all skin types (colors). If you’re not sure if your skin type is appropriate for a particular treatment, we encourage you to call or visit us for a consultation and ask questions about our experience with similar treatments and your particular skin type. Give us a call today to learn more.