As time passes, it’s not uncommon for physicians to find an alternative or off-label uses for medications and in the case of Latisse, that’s actually how it’s cosmetic use started. A few years back, there was a study performed to see the efficacy behind using latanoprost (an active ingredient found in Latisse) as a way to darken hypopigmented scars due to the commonly reported side effect of skin darkening reported by users of Latisse or eye drops for glaucoma.
The developing research around this new method also discusses the addition of laser treatment. At Reflections, we are proud to offer our patients over 26 different types of lasers that treat a variety of skin concerns. With hypopigmentation being some of the most difficult scars to address, we’re excited to see additional treatments being researched in the hopes of becoming a viable option.
What is Hypopigmentation?
Hypopigmentation is the discoloration of the skin that occurs after an injury has occurred to the skin. An injury to the skin could be accidental or caused by a previous surgical procedure that has left a scar. Certain skin types and injuries can result in hypopigmentation which is when the healing skin loses pigmentation, often looking white or several shades lighter than the unaffected skin surrounding the scar. This type of scar can be harder to camouflage since you would be attempting to deepen the tone of the scar rather than conceal a deep reddish-brown color more commonly seen in healing scars.
What Causes Hypopigmentation in Scars?
After an injury or surgical procedure scars that develop can heal in a few ways. The three main ways a scar will appear is with hyperpigmentation (the most common way), hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation with the formation of a keloid. We see all three varieties at Reflections and have been treating patients looking to soften the appearance of their scars for years using a variety of lasers and alternative skin rejuvenating techniques.
When the skin heals after a surgical incision or injury, the skin is essentially damaged and begins to heal itself; which is different for every unique skin type. In most cases patients will experience hyperpigmentation, darkening of the skin, with the skin eventually lightening with time and blending in easily with the surrounding skin. In other cases, patients will see their skin heal to a lighter shade than their natural skin. This can cause patients to feel self-conscious about their scar being noticeable due to its much lighter color. In the past, we have used CO2 lasers to improve the appearance of hypopigmentation by breaking up the scar tissue and triggering the skin’s natural healing process.
Latisse & It’s On-Label Use
Latisse was not originally brought to the market under its current name nor for its current cosmetic use. Latisse contains an active ingredient that was originally formulated into eyedrops for the treatment of glaucoma. Patients using these eyedrops over time began to report accelerated eyelash growth. With this reported side effect, Allergen, the makers of Botox would eventually package this ingredient in a topical lash growth serum for cosmetic use. Latisse is highly effective in growing longer, fuller lashes when used daily.
Latisse as an Alternative Treatment
The idea of using Latisse as an additional measure or treatment in hypopigmented scars started with a study in 2015 by the Indian Journal of Dermatology. The study dives into the idea of adding lost pigmentation back into hypopigmented scars using Latisse after a series of CO2 laser treatments rather than just treating with CO2 lasers alone.
This avenue was explored because of a known harmless side effect to Latisse, skin darkening. This often occurs on the eyelid of patients using Latisse to grow longer thicker eyelashes. The study was performed using 28 patients with hypopigmented scars divided into two random groups. After 12 weeks of treatment with Latisse and CO2 laser or just CO2 laser alone, 11 out of the 14 patients in Group A (CO2 & Latisse) noticed at least a 50% improvement in their hyperpigmentation in comparison to group B who did not treat with Latisse. After the study, it was concluded that combining CO2 laser treatment and Latisse was both a safe and viable option for patients looking to improve the appearance of hypopigmented scars.
At Reflections, we are committed to bringing our patients the most cutting edge and innovative treatment options available. With new treatment options emerging all of the time, we keep an eye on the research being done on new cosmetic treatment methods as a way to consistently offer our patients the best treatment possible.
If you are interested in learning more about the treatment of hypopigmented scars contact one of our New Jersey offices today to schedule your private consultation with one of our cosmetic physicians.
Rezaei, R., Asilian, A., Abtahi-Naeini, B., Rakhshanpour, M., Raei, M., Hosseini, S. and Siadat, A. (2015). Repigmentation of hypopigmented scars using combination of fractionated carbon dioxide laser with topical latanoprost vs. fractionated carbon dioxide laser alone. [online] National Center for Biotechnology Information. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4533534/ [Accessed 3 Jan. 2019].