Dermatological Surgeons Develop Breakthrough Skin Pigmentation Treatment

by | May 15, 2001 @ 04:00PM

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Schaumburg, IL – Thanks to a breakthrough laser technique, dermatologic surgeons can now improve the color of scars from facelifts, breast surgery, burns, uneven skin pigment, or abnormally lightened skin. Medically referred to as hypopigmentation or leukoderma, these light spots or splotches on otherwise normal skin are associated with scars, vitiligo, or possible side effects from certain skin resurfacing procedures, such as lasers, chemical peels, and dermabrasion.

Speaking at the American Academy of Dermatology's recent annual meeting, dermatologic surgeon Roy Geronemus, M.D., New York City, told colleagues that the 308-nm excimer laser appears to be extremely effective in selectively targeting and darkening light patches to blend in with surrounding skin tone. He added that patients experience virtually no pain and can require as few as three to 10 treatments.

"Melanocytes are the pigment-making factories in skin that produce tanned skin when stimulated by sunlight. However, the melanocytes in patients with hypo-pigmentation are damaged and don't function properly," explained Dr. Geronemus, who is vice president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. "The intensity of particular types of lasers seems to accomplish what normal light can't – namely reanimating the melanocytes without the damaging effects of ultraviolet light."

In the pilot study, Dr. Geronemus examined two patients who had hypopigmentation following carbon dioxide (CO2) laser resurfacing, a procedure to improve wrinkles and rejuvenate the skin. The patients received a series of up to eight treatments over three to four weeks with the 308-nm excimer laser. A 50 to 75% improvement in skin tone was recorded after the treatments.

"These preliminary results suggest that the 308-nm excimer laser offers a rapid and effective treatment for stimulating residual melanocytes in patients with resurfacing induced leukoderma at a relatively low cumulative UV-B dose," noted Dr. Geronemus.

The study is slated for publication in the June issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) was founded in 1970 to promote excellence in the field of dermatologic surgery and to foster the highest standards of patient care.

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