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Skin Cooling After Laser Treatments Could Boost Hyperpigmentation Risk

Posted: September 19, 2007
Although it's meant to protect the skin, a cooling technique may actually boost the risk of hyperpigmentaion (discoloration) in dark-skinned patients after laser treatment for mole-like skin lesions, Thai researchers warn.

"It is not life-threatening, but postinflammatory hyperpigmentation may cause substantial psychological problems," wrote a team from Mahidol University in Bangkok. "The treatment of postinflammatory hyperpigmentation is difficult and time-consuming, often lasting many months to achieve the desired results, which causes frustration in patients and physicians," they added.

Some experts have suggested that skin cooling -- which decreases pain and allows the use of higher laser frequencies -- may help reduce hyperpigmentation after laser treatment.

In this study, researchers used laser irradiation to treat 23 Thai women (average age 43) with Hori's nevus, blue-brown pigmented spots on the skin that develop later in life.

"One randomly selected face side of each patient was cooled using a cold air cooling device during and 30 seconds before and after laser irradiation, and the other side was irradiated without cooling," the researchers wrote.