Melanin tans our skin and helps protect it by dissipating absorbed UV radiation from the sun. It is also responsible for the beautiful glowing tans in some darker skinned individuals. A loss of our tan, or pigment, can be distressing and is associated with a number of illnesses as well as various treatments. In most cases, the loss of pigment resolves after a number of months or years. However, it is sometimes permanent and is more noticeable on darker skin. Transient post-inflammatory hypopigmentation can follow a course of tattoo removal treatments with the PicoSure laser. Firstly, the melanin itself is broken down and removed in much the same way that tattoo ink is – the laser heats the melanin pigment and the PressureWave shatters it. This phenomenon doesn’t just affect tattoo removal; it has also been observed following laser hair removal and laser skin resurfacing treatments.
Transient post-inflammatory hypopigmentation can last for at least 6 months. Melanocytes will migrate into the affected area resulting in a hypopigmented center surrounded by a hyperpigmented ring. All patients will react differently to cutaneous inflammation and these differences are thought to be genetic in nature. Some refer to this as “individual chromatic tendency”. Hypopigmentation may result from the inhibition of melanogenesis rather than the destruction of the melanocytes themselves. Researchers continue to study this area as it is not fully understood at this time.
There are several treatment options to improve the appearance of hypopigmentation including phototherapy or camouflage pigment tattoos. It is important to note that each of us has the potential for pigmentation changes following laser therapy. Please discuss this with your provider prior to making the decision to have a tattoo removed. I can be reached by phone @ 512-479-9997 or just stop by my NEW location in Austin, TX: Austin Medspa on W. 6th St.