The Treatment of Hypopigmentation After Skin Resurfacing


Address correspondence and reprint requests to: James E. Fulton, Jr. MD, Fulton Skin Institute, 13376 Newport Avenue, Suite I, Tustin, CA 92780.


Background. Hypopigmentation has plagued all methods of skin resurfacing. Whether the physician uses chemical peels, dermabrasion or laser resurfacing hypopigmentation can develop.

Objective. To examine the pathogenesis and treatment of hypopigmentation after resurfacing.

Methods. Areas of hypopigmentation after skin resurfacing were blended in with laser-assisted chemabrasion (LACA). The process begins with preconditioning of the skin with vitamin A/glycolic skin conditioning lotions. Then the area is resurfaced with the LACA. This resurfacing usually requires three to four freeze–sand cycles to remove the areas of hypopigmentation associated with dermal fibrosis. The resurfaced skin is then occluded with a combination of polyethylene/silicone sheeting during the acute phase of wound healing. Ultraviolet photo-graphy and histologic examination were used to demonstrate the improvement in dermal fibrosis and hypopigmentation.

Results. The LACA improved areas of hypopigmentation in the 22 cases studied. Under occlusive wound dressings, the melanocytes migrated into the areas of hypopigmentation, and the wounds healed without extensive fibrosis. This produced a blending of skin color.

Conclusion. It is possible with skin preconditioning, LACA, and occlusive wound healing to provide for a wound healing environment that blends in areas of hypopigmentation that have developed after previous skin resurfacing.