How To Correctly Use Laser Therapy For Skin Of Colour?

In today's article, Prof. Dr. Morthy from the International Institute of Wellness & Aesthetic Medicine discusses the proper use of laser therapy for darker skin tones. 

Laser therapy has potential benefits for treating skin conditions in people with darker skin, but there are specific considerations and risks. Our advanced Aesthetic courses in lasers aim to prepare future practitioners to address these challenges. 

Let's explore the correct approach to using laser therapy on darker skin, but first, let's understand the importance of the Fitzpatrick scale. This scale categorizes skin types based on their response to UV exposure. People with darker skin typically fall into Fitzpatrick skin types IV to VI, which are more prone to pigmentation issues and more heat-sensitive than lighter skin tones.

Challenges In Laser Therapy For Skin of Colour

The difference in melanin levels between light and dark skin poses unique challenges in laser therapy. Dark skin contains more melanin, the pigment responsible for skin color, which can absorb excess laser energy and cause complications like burns, scarring, or hyperpigmentation.

Here are some of the specific challenges faced when using lasers on skin of colour:

Risk of Hyperpigmentation: Dark skin has a higher tendency to develop post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), a condition where the skin becomes darker after an injury or inflammation, such as a laser treatment.

Ineffective Hair Removal: Traditional laser hair removal methods may not be as effective on darker skin because the laser might not differentiate effectively between the dark hair and the surrounding skin.

Scarring and Burns: Darker skin is more prone to keloid or hypertrophic scarring, and the wrong laser settings can cause burns and permanent damage.

Uneven Results: Improper laser selection can lead to uneven skin tone and texture.

Laser Types for Skin of Colour

When it comes to laser therapy for skin of colour, choosing the right equipment is crucial. The best lasers for this purpose are those with longer wavelengths, such as Nd:YAG or Alexandrite lasers. These lasers penetrate the skin deeper without affecting the melanin content in the epidermis. This ensures a more controlled and safer treatment for individuals with skin of colour.

Here are examples for you to consider:

Q-Switched Lasers: These lasers are suitable for treating pigmentary disorders, such as melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and tattoos in individuals with skin of colour. They operate at lower fluences and shorter pulse durations, reducing the risk of complications.

Nd:YAG Laser: Nd:YAG lasers are a top choice for skin of colour due to their longer wavelength (1064 nm). This longer wavelength penetrates deeper into the skin, minimizing the risk of adverse effects. The Nd:YAG laser is effective for hair removal, pigmentation issues, and vascular lesions.

Fractional Lasers: Fractional lasers like Erbium and CO2 are also considered safe and effective for skin of colour. These lasers treat fine lines, wrinkles, and scars by creating microscopic channels in the skin, promoting collagen production without causing significant damage.

How To Perform Laser Therapy in Skin Of Colour

Choose the Right Laser: Selecting the appropriate laser system is paramount. For skin of colour, long-pulse lasers like Nd:YAG, Alexandrite, or Q-switched lasers are often preferred. These lasers are less likely to cause adverse effects like burns or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Pre-Treatment Assessment: Conduct a thorough assessment of the patient's skin type and medical history. This will help determine the most suitable laser and parameters.

Patch Testing: For patients with skin of colour, patch testing is advisable to assess how their skin reacts to the laser. This helps in avoiding unexpected complications.

Parameters and Settings: The fluence, pulse duration, and spot size should be adjusted according to the patient's skin type and the target condition. Start with conservative settings and adjust as needed.

Cooling Systems: The use of integrated cooling systems, such as cryogen spray cooling, is essential to minimize the risk of thermal injury in patients with skin of colour.

Post-Treatment Care: Emphasize the importance of post-treatment care to patients. This includes sun protection, topical treatments to prevent hyperpigmentation, and avoiding excessive heat exposure.

Combination Therapies: In many cases, combining laser therapy with topical agents or other aesthetic procedures can enhance results while minimizing side effects.

Laser therapy for skin of colour demands a nuanced and patient-centric approach. At IIWAM, we are committed to providing comprehensive training for laser skin rejuvenation that prepares aesthetic practitioners to work effectively and safely with patients from diverse backgrounds.

About IIWAM Training

It is prudent that all Aesthetic practitioners undergo proper training in Aesthetic Medicine. The practitioner must balance between benefits & risks of the Aesthetic procedure and steps to mitigate complications if they occur. At IIWAM, we call it understanding the procedure, the product, and the patient, and our trainers pay utmost attention to teaching the following topics under our advanced Aesthetic courses in lasers:

  • Understanding skin physiology for laser treatments

  • What are the principles of laser selection?

  • What is laser-tissue interaction?

  • What are the principles of lasers?

  • How do lasers work on skin of colour?

  • Risks involved in laser therapy in the skin of colour

  • Ways to avoid complications in laser therapy in skin of colour

  • How to handle client expectations in laser treatments?

Apply for the best online Aesthetic courses from IIWAM today.

About IIWAM Aesthetic Education

International Institute of Wellness & Aesthetic Medicine ( is a private teaching institution that provides International Aesthetic Medical Certification programs for Doctors, Dentists, Nurses, Aestheticians, and Spa Owners. Prof Dr Morthy, the course director for the Institute, is a key opinion leader for Aesthetic Medicine in the region, and a trainer for several teaching institutions.

The International Institute of Wellness & Aesthetic Medicine (IIWAM) has academic affiliations with several countries, including Malaysia, Korea, Thailand, Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, India and Indonesia. With our insignia of “Be Certified & Be Recognized”, the Institute develops knowledgeable, skilled, and confident aesthetic practitioners of international repute.

IIWAM is the only Institute to have its Programs certified by City & Guilds of London, CPD Standards Office (UK) and  European International University (Paris). IIWAM is also a registered CPD Training provider for Malaysian Medical Association.

IIWAM also offers Cosmetic Procedures and Stem Cell treatment at IIWAM Wellness Centre ( that are safe, effective, and affordable.