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Single-session intense pulsed light combined with stable fixed-dose triple combination topical therapy for the treatment of refractory melasma


Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Linton Wallis Figueiredo Souza, MD, Master in Health Sciences, University Hospital Clemente Faria, Av. Cula Mangabeira, 562 Montes Claros, Minas Gerais, Brazil 39401-001, or email:


The effectiveness of intense pulsed light (IPL) has been reported in adults with melasma, but there is little information about IPL with triple combination topical therapy (TC) and refractory melasma. Sixty-two patients with totally or partially refractory melasma were enrolled in this randomized open-label study. Thirty-one patients were treated with IPL in a single session, bleaching agents and broad-spectrum sunscreens. Thirty-one patients were in the control group, receiving only bleaching agents and broad-spectrum sunscreens. The Melasma Area and Severity Index (MASI) and the investigator's global assessment using a seven-point scale were used to determine the impact and effectiveness of the treatment. The IPL group results based on MASI showed a 49.4% reduction (from 17.6 to 8.9; p < 0.001) after six months and a 44.9% reduction after 12 months (from 17.6 to 9.7; p < 0.001). The investigator's global assessment showed that the difference in the improvement rate between the IPL group and control group was significant (p = 0.002), with a better response in the IPL group. Single session IPL combined with stable fixed-dose triple combination treatment is a safe and effective treatment for refractory mixed and dermal melasma.