Pigmentation: The Science of the Spots You See

So you’ve noticed dark spots, or hyper-pigmentation, on your face or body.  Today, we share with you the use of the quality-switched neodymium yttrium-aluminum-garnet laser, abbreviated as the Q-switched Nd: YAG.


Hyper-pigmentation, which is simply the result of uneven distribution of melanin, requires two initial steps before successful treatment: 

  1. Identification of the most likely cause or trigger. 
  2. Identification of the laser that will most effectively clear the undesired spots or patches.

There are many causes of hyperpigmentation:

  • sun-exposure
  • skin irritation or skin allergies
  • medication 
  • stains from inflammation in the skin 
  • hormonal due to either birth control or pregnancy. 

At Gramercy Park Dermatology, we have purposely selected multiple lasers with different wavelengths and mechanisms of action to address each individual case of hyper-pigmentation.

A lovely young woman presented to us with controlled skin lupus. Her actual skin condition was treated and now in remission but it left her with undesirable dark patches on her chest. She had skin biopsies and multiple laser test spots to help identify the best course for treatment. The Q-switched Nd: YAG yielded the most impressive test spot.

The Q-switched Nd: YAG uses acoustic waves to break up deep pigment that is too large for our body to process. In this pictorial depiction, you see the laser light and the sound waves of the Q-switched Nd: YAG breaking up the deep pigment, allowing the patient’s body to finally clear the residual hyperpigmentation from her skin condition.

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The Q-switched Nd: YAG is non-invasive, without discomfort, and without downtime. Four laser sessions later, her chest was restored to its baseline. Using the science of sound waves, the Q-switched Nd: YAG laser delivers an innovative solution for hyper-pigmentation.