Cooling Skin After Laser Treatments Could Cause Discoloration

Darker-skinned patients who undergo laser treatments are already at greater risk for hyperpigmentation. And now, it appears that a cooling technique commonly used to protect skin after laser treatments may actually increase the likelihood of discoloration.

Bangkok researchers used a Q-switched Nd:YAG laser on 21 women to treat Hori's nevus, which are bluish-brown spots that sometimes develop with age on Asian skin. While only 5% of participants experienced new hyperpigmentation on the uncooled side of their faces, 62% saw new discoloration on the side that had been cooled after treatment.

The researchers are unsure why cooling would cause such a dramatic increase, but they are hoping for future studies about epidermal cooling and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation.

4 Comments
  • Will Richardson Anonymous
    Posted on

    Just reviewing previous blogs, this is worth mention and was recently presented again at the Skin of Color Conference and also last fall at the "Laser and Aesthetic Medicine: What's the Truth." I agree with Dr. Aguilera that it can be used safely, I simply caution the consumer to going to a physician not esteemed in ethnic skin. Certainly, I feel you would be safe in either of our offices given our background.

  • Shino Bay Aguilera
    Posted on

    There are numerous types of cooling namely: Ice, Cryogen spray, watercooled metal interfaces and cold air cooling. There are several clinical studies that do show that excessive cooling can (in some cases), cause hyperpigmentation (a darkening of the skin), mainly on darker skin types and if the skin is overcooled. We do clinical research and investigations for one of the world’s leading laser manufacturers to develop treatment protocols for emerging laser technologies and have a lot of experience with different cooling systems. Our cooling system of choice is the “SmartCool II" which is a temperature via airflow, adjustable, fresh, safe-to-breathe, air, ozone-friendly, “Frozen Air Cooling” system which we feel provides your maximum comfort and safety during your cosmetic laser treatment, we use what we feel to be the most effective, premier cooling system on the market to anesthetize treatment areas before, during, and after the procedure. And we have never had an incident, ev

  • Will Richardson Anonymous
    Posted on

    Any type of cooling technique that is utilized can cause this discoloration in skin of color. Ice, forced cold air, cooling wands, and compression devices all result in this unfortunate outcome. This discoloration is due to cold-injury to melanocytes that produce pigment in the skin and is permanent. There have been reports and confirmation of this year after year in the medical literature and at skin of color conferences. I encourage you to NOT treat skin of color if you are not prepared to deal with the liability associated with this possible risk.

  • aestheticrn
    Posted on

    What type of post trx cooling caused the hyperpigmentation? Is it all types such as ice, post laser lotions/gels/masks, zimmers, etc?

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