Specialized Treatments for Dark Skin

Choosing the Right Treatments for Dark Skin Tones

How is Skin Color Determined?

Skin color is determined by a pigment (melanin) made by specialized cells in the skin (melanocytes).  The amount and type of melanin determines a person’s skin color.  Generally, African American, Black, Latin, Hispanic, Native American, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Asian ancestry and people of mixed ethnicities are considered to have darker skin tones.  However, that does not mean that everyone in the same ethnic group has the same skin tone.  That’s why it is so important to find a dermatologist that understands your concerns and has the expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of skin that has more color (pigment).

What are some of the concerns for people with dark skin?

We are a city and country that’s growing in diversity, which means were are seeing patients who have very specific concerns about their skin, hair and nails. There are many skin problems that disproportionately affect people with darker skin tones including but not limited to:

  • Skin discolorations, uneven blotchy skin, melasma,
  • Keloids (excessive scarring from an injury or surgery)
  • Razor bumps and ingrown hairs
  • Acne and scarring (dark spots are common)
  • Hair loss (thinning or breaking from weaves, braids, or chemical relaxers)
  • Flesh moles (most commonly on the cheeks of African Americans
  • Vitiligo

If you are concerned that a skin conditions is disfiguring your appearance; our experts evaluate your condition to choose the best treatment option for you.

I have heard that people with dark skin should not have laser treatments. What's the truth?

Some lasers can do damage to dark skin tones, especially if they are in the wrong hands.  Fortunately, there are lasers that work well with dark skin to even out skin discolorations, reduce the appearance of scars, or for laser hair removal.

 We are fortunate at Mass General Dermatology Laser and Cosmetic Center because we have a variety of lasers and therapies onsite, which allows us to create a personalized and safe treatment plan for you.  A consultation is required before any cosmetic procedure.    Some of the non- surgical procedures we can do safely on darker pigment skin are:

  • Laser treatments for hair removal, acne scarring, and keloids
  • Lasers and radiofrequency devices to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and acne scarring
  • Chemical peels for scarring, acne, and discolorations
  • Botox and facial fillers to soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Sclerotherapy to remove leg veins
  • Body contouring to remove small areas of stubborn fat

Why do I need a consutation?

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Dr. Tsao listening to a patient and discussing the best possible treatments.

Your treatment plan is customized to meet your specific goals and needs. For this reason, a face to face consultation is required. This allows your cosmetic dermatologist (skin doctor who helps improve a patient’s physical appearance) to develop the best possible treatment plan for you. During the consultation, the doctor will:

  • Address your concerns and develop a treatment plan
  • Review your general health
  • Evaluate your overall skin condition
  • Discuss risks and benefits of the treatment
  • Discuss the number and costs of treatment

A consultation is required and there is a fee for the consultation.

Are laser skin treatments covered by insurance? 

No. Elective laser skin treatments are not covered by health plans. If you have questions about your coverage, please check with your health insurance provider.

The good news is that at Mass General Dermatology, we have Multi-Ethnic Skin Care specialists in both medical dermatology and in our laser and cosmetic center that can address specific concerns for people with darker skin tones.