Hyperpigmentation Acne and Permanent Treatment Explained

pre and post IPL dark spots on woman's face

Acne can present itself in different forms, such as typical pustules, pimples, and blackheads (comedones) that appear on the face, but also in other areas of the body. Even though it is a common skin condition and many people get used to it sooner or later, acne becomes a great concern when it leaves marks behind.

Acne hyperpigmentation is unpleasant for those who face it and can be a cause of low self-esteem and an additional burden for those who carry on endless fights with treating pimples.

Fortunately, hyperpigmentation due to acne can be treated, and, with the proper treatment, the marks left by it can be removed permanently.

The Different Types of Hyperpigmentation

The technical term 'hyperpigmentation' refers to the increased pigmentation (coloring) of the skin. The melanocytes (skin cells that produce melanin) are located in the basal layer (the stratum basale) of the epidermis and the hair follicles.

Melanin, also known as the brownish-black color pigment, is stored in the keratinocytes (the primary type of cell found in the epidermis). Hyperpigmentation always occurs when the formation of the color pigments in the skin is disrupted and, as a result, it leads to an uneven complexion of the skin.

In simple terms, melanin is responsible for the color of the skin, hair, and eyes. It protects the skin from the penetration of harmful UV rays, and usually, the cells supplied with melanin give the skin an even pigmentation. When too much pigment is formed or that it is distributed unevenly, different forms of hyperpigmentation may appear.

Melasma - May cause relatively large irregular dark spots on the face placed symmetrically at the eyebrows, temples, cheekbones, chin, or arms. The stains can fade in the winter but usually, appear as soon as the skin is exposed to the sun. The condition is due to hormonal effects during pregnancy or contraception, but it can also be a cause of excessive sun exposure and the use of aggressive skincare products.

Age spots - These usually present as small dark brown or black spots (but can also be light yellow or red) that occur in areas that have been exposed to prolonged and intense sun. The spots can be single or grouped and appear with increasing age, as the name suggests. They usually occur on the face, decolletage, hands, and arms.

Freckles - Most common on the face, this type of skin hyperpigmentation usually presents as small spots of light brown colour and can get more visible through exposure to the sun. Freckles  can become more prominent or less visible with increasing age and are more common for blonde and red-haired people. It is genetically determined.

What is Post Acne Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is a common skin condition affecting people of all skin types. As can be seen above, many different factors can determine its appearance, such as excessive exposure to the sun, different types of skin damage, including scars, eczema, injuries, or hereditary and hormonal causes during pregnancy or birth control pills. Some forms of hyperpigmentation, including melasma and age spots are more likely to affect areas of the skin exposed to the sun, such as the face, arms, and legs.

Other types of hyperpigmentation form after a skin injury or inflammation, such as cuts, burns, or acne - the most common skin condition that people begin to develop around puberty. It can develop anywhere on the body. However, an important thing to remember here is that the extra pigment in some areas of the skin is usually harmless but can sometimes indicate another medical condition.

Whether and how many pimple marks occur can vary significantly from skin to skin. Experts assume that sensitive skin is generally more prone to acne scars. In addition, darker skin types are more affected because their bodies typically produce more melanin.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation acne appears when the skin's healing process begins after acne. The so-called 'post-acne spots' occur because the skin becomes inflamed from the pimple. Your body heals this 'trauma' and sends a lot of melanin to this region in the course of the regeneration process. But most of the time, your body sends way too much melanin, which then leads to hyperpigmentation acne.

Hyperpigmentation acne occurs especially in severe forms of acne when inflammation has also injured the dermis, and the skin can no longer heal completely. The body forms a replacement tissue at these points, which is separated from the rest of the skin as a sunken scar (atrophic scar) or an outwardly curved scar (hypertrophic scar).

How to Prevent Hyperpigmentation Acne

The best way to prevent hyperpigmentation acne spots is to avoid popping pimples, sun exposure without UV protection, and the overuse of some cosmetic products. For instance, if your skincare routine contains a lot of masks, facial tonic, serums, acids, peels, and creams, try to use only the ones that are absolutely necessary because less is always better.

Therefore, you should stay away from Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, as they can be the most irritating when used incorrectly on deeper skin tones. If you use these substances, do it very gently, slowly, and give your skin enough time to get used to it. Avoid putting cocoa butter or shea butter on your face, back, or cleavage. These products can clog your pores and cause more acne breakouts.

For a healthy skincare routine, it is best to turn to a certified dermatologist who will prescribe special products for your skin type.

If you have a dark skin type, this will not save you from the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Indeed, dark skin tends to have more robust fibroblasts -- the cell of the fibrous connective tissue. While this is good for aging, it is believed that the excess collagen is ultimately what makes darker skin types more prone to thick, keloid scars and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation acne.

In the long run, no matter the skin type, if you have a persistent form of acne, you can expect the appearance of hyperpigmentation. A balanced skincare routine based on the use of products recommended by your doctor and the application of a sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 should help you a lot in preventing those dark spots left after acne. However, prevention won't save you every time, which is why post-acne hyperpigmentation treatment will be the best way to get rid of it permanently.

Post Acne Hyperpigmentation Treatment for Permanent Results

Many of those who face dark spots on their skin are looking for methods on how to get rid of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Even though DIY at-home treatments can bring short-term results, they are not as effective as the treatments performed by specialists in a suitable environment.

Modern laser technology with IPL skin rejuvenation can be used to remove freckles and other benign brown pigmentation, dark scars, dark circles, age spots, melasma, rosacea, couperose, and even post-acne hyperpigmentation. You can 'laser away your pigmented spots' with the IPL treatment, specially designed to improve the appearance of the skin through a process called photorejuvenation.

The IPL skin rejuvenation laser systems use hand-held flash lamps to emit micro pulses of light over a wide range of visible wavelengths. By using gentle pulses of light to generate heat, this soft, non-ablative treatment can be used to treat the face, chest, neck, and hands - and any area where hyperpigmentation occurs.

With our proven IPL process, the pigment spots are heated with an intense pulsed light, which dissolves the pigments in the skin without affecting the surrounding tissue. A very gentle way of treating unwanted pigment disorders. The more pigmented areas of the skin absorb the light energy and convert it into heat, which fades the pigment spots.

After the treatment, the body breaks down the dissolved pigments. Several hyperpigmentation treatments with IPL may be necessary, depending on the severity and frequency of the pigmentation.

The process is ideal for those with active lifestyles as the procedure requires no downtime and has a low risk of side effects. The advantage of the pulsed light proves to be in its much more pleasant and tissue-friendly application.

This results, on the one hand, from the precise section of the wave spectrum that is possible with IPL and, on the other hand, from the fact that a lower energy concentration acts on the area to be treated. Hyperpigmentation spots can be permanently cured with IPL, but some maintenance treatments may be needed once a year or twice a year in order to achieve the best results.

The Pico laser technology

The Pico laser, known as a quick and safe method of treating patients with hyperpigmentation from melasma or other acquired disorders of pigmentation, has recently been found to be effective in treating dark skin types. In addition to treating acne scars and sun-damaged skin on all skin types, including fairer complexions, this latest development will help better serve the ethnic market while significantly reducing treatment time using fractionated lasers for darker skin types.

Although the melanin in darker skin types absorbs most wavelengths of light easily, some wavelengths can pass through rather than reflecting off the surface. These diffused photons are absorbed by the melanin and converted to heat, causing collagen contraction and skin tightening.

The Pico laser takes full advantage of this process by delivering high-intensity, pulsed light in a fractionated manner that allows for rapid heating of extremely small areas. This rapid heating can produce results within four treatment sessions with minimal downtime resulting from less irritation than traditional lasers such as the CO2 and erbium: YAG.

Results include increased epidermal turnover, decreased melanocyte activity and suppression of melanin production while stimulating collagen growth for younger-looking eyes, face, and neck. The energy also penetrates more deeply than non-ablative lasers because it is delivered in smaller pulses, so there is no need for anesthesia during the procedure, and there is very little post-operative discomfort.

This laser technology is very effective in treating acne scars and dark skin on all types of patients including Hispanic, African American and Asian.

With assistance from Pico Technology, Laser Professionals will undoubtedly continue on their path of success by focusing on rejuvenation procedures for all skin types, especially darker complexions that have previously been extremely difficult to treat on the face, neck and body due to risk of scarring or undesirable pigmentation issues.

This new advancement will revolutionize how dark skin types can benefit from rejuvenation procedures by decreasing the length of treatments while simultaneously reducing discomfort levels experienced during them.


Can the IPL treatment also be carried out in summer?

While some treatments should be avoided in the summer such as certain chemical peels, this treatment can also be carried out in summer. Of course the correct sun protection must be used afterwards.

At what interval should the IPL treatment be done to treat hyperpigmentation acne properly?

This treatment is most effective when applied as a course of 4-5 consecutive treatments. The interval of a maximum of one week between sessions should not be exceeded. Of course, the duration of the treatment and the procedure must be discussed with each patient individually, depending on their skin type.

What can be used against hyperpigmentation along with the IPL treatment?

Similar to vitamin C, retinol (vitamin A acid) also has an exfoliating effect on the skin and gently brightens pigment spots. In addition, the anti-aging ingredient stimulates the body's collagen production, which reduces wrinkles over time.

Hyperpigmentation Acne and Permanent Treatment Explained

Dr. Sidhu
Dr. Ramandeep Sidhu

Author - Dr. Ramandeep Sidhu

SPECIALTIES: Percutaneous aneurysm repair, endovascular treatment of peripheral arterial disease, treatment for varicose veins, open vascular surgical procedures, deep vein thrombosis/pulmonary embolism treatment and aesthetic services.