The Use of Lasers in Darker Skin Types

The demographics of the US population continue to change at an extremely rapid pace. As
of 2008, Asians, Hispanics, and African Americans accounted for 31% of the US population,
and it is estimated that by the year 2050 half of the population of America will be
represented by darker ethnic skin types. With the increase in the total number of individuals
of skin of color, the demand for safe and effective laser therapy in darker skin types
continues to increase. However, despite the increase in demand, the current literature
regarding the use of lasers in darker skin remains limited. Most of the treatment parameters
defined for laser platforms have been established primarily through extensive testing on
skin phototypes I to III, and those studies that have been conducted on darker skin
phototypes have been overwhelmingly conducted on Asian skin. Nevertheless, it has
become clear that effective cutaneous laser surgery in darker skin types can be accomplished
despite a relative overall greater risk for complications. Therefore, as the diversity
of America continues to grow, the laser surgeon needs to maintain a clear understanding
of the complexities associated with treating ethnic skin and remain mindful of the current,
and ever-changing, therapeutic modalities available. This will allow the conscientious
physician to maximize outcome and minimize risk when performing laser surgery on darker
skin types.
Semin Cutan Med Surg 28:130-140 © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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