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How Does a Patient’s Skin Tone Affect Their Laser Hair Removal Procedure?

Did you know that skin tone plays a role in the success of laser hair removal? Skin tone is actually an important factor to take into account before embarking on any kind of laser treatment.

How can potential laser hair removal patients know which treatments will be best for their darker skin tone? Today, we’ll explore the ways in which lasers interact with different skin tones to produce varying outcomes, according to leading dermatologists. 

How Lasers and Skin Tone Interact 

Some laser hair removal methods simply aren’t going to be suitable for every skin tone. In 1975, a dermatologist at Harvard named Tomas B. Fitzpatrick developed a scale to measure skin sensitivity based on skin tone. On one end of the Fitzpatrick scale are people whose skin tends to burn easily. On the other end are people whose skin tends to tan, inducing pigmentation.

The results of the Fitzpatrick scale are based on the level of melanin that is available in a person’s skin cells. Though only a dermatologist can accurately classify a person’s skin on the Fitzpatrick scale, you may be able to find an accurate description of your skin just by perusing the scale’s categories:

  • Type I: Light pale skin, light eyes, blonde or red hair, typically burns and doesn’t tan
  • Type II: Fair skin, light eyes, blonde hair, usually burns but sometimes tans
  • Type III: Fair brown or olive skin, light brown eyes, dark brown hair, sometimes burns and slowly tans
  • Type IV: Olive or brown skin, deep brown eyes, dark brown hair, rarely burns, and tans well
  • Type V: Deep brown skin, deep brown or black eyes, dark brown or black hair, rarely burns, and tans often.
  • Type VI: Deep brown or black skin, deep brown or black eyes, black hair, never burns, and tans easily.

In general, people who rank above a Type IV on the Fitzpatrick scale will need to choose a laser hair removal treatment that is specially designed to work with their skin tone.

Patients that fall between Type IV and Type VI have skin with greater amounts of melanin, which means that an incorrectly administered laser treatment could cause skin damage.

Potential skin damage can include scars, burns, and even hyper- or hypopigmentation, which creates visible changes in skin tone. 

Best and Worst Laser Treatments for Darker Skin Tones 

Ask your dermatologist which types of laser might be most appropriate to be used on your skin. Don’t be afraid to ask about their previous experience working with your skin tone. 

Generally speaking, some of the best laser types for darker skin tones include non-ablative, Q-switched, and picosecond lasers. These allow skin texture and tone to be refined without an elevated risk of unsightly scars or painful burns.

Patients with darker skin should avoid some of the traditional resurfacing lasers, which include carbon dioxide and ablative options, as they carry a higher risk of skin damage.

Every skin tone deserves proper treatment and care. Contact Metropolitan Vein and Aesthetic Center to learn more about laser hair removal.

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