What’s the Difference Between Scarring and Hypopigmentation?

I often have patients show me their hypopigmentation and call it a scar.  This is a common misconception so I thought I would try to address it.  When a patient undergoes PicoSure laser tattoo removal, mild hypopigmentation is usually present throughout the series of treatments.  This is due to the pigment, or melanin, being removed via the same mechanism as the tattoo ink itself.  However, once the tattoo is gone and treatments are discontinued, the cells which make melanin generally are able to repigment the affected skin.

So why do patients sometimes believe hypopigmentation is a scar?  Well probably because scars themselves are often hypopigmented so there’s a visual association present.  However, in reality, true scars are fibrous tissue that replaces normal skin after injury.  This fibrous tissue may not contain enough melanocytes to repigment the area which leaves the scar white in appearance.  White scars, such as those from a surgical procedure, may be permanent whereas transient hypopigmentation caused by a PicoSure laser is usually temporary.  Fortunately, the PicoSure laser pulses so quickly that it is considered extremely gentle on the skin and unlikely to cause an injury that would result in scar formation.  If you would like to discuss your tattoo removal with me, 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.


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