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Hyperpigmentation (Part 2): Treatment Options

In the previous blog post, we explored the definition of hyperpigmentation as well as how to prevent it. In this post, we’ll discuss how to treat it.

Treating Hyperpigmentation:


  • IPL is an effective, non-invasive, no-downtime solution that over a course of treatments will fade or in many cases completely eliminate brown spots (however, this is not a great treatment for those with melasma). Check out a previous blog post on IPL for more information on this procedure.


*Results after 5 IPL treatments.

Other types of light/lasers treatments include Fraxel , which can also address certain types of hyperpigmentation but require 1-2 weeks of downtime.



Ferulic ObagiClarifying5xSerum


  • Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that 1) protects the skin against free radicals (which cause cellular damage/aging), 2) boosts the efficacy of your sunscreen, and 3) fades brown spots over time. It often comes in the form of either a serum or a lotion and is applied in the morning as the first layer over clean skin.
  • Retinol is a vitamin A derivative. This powerful anti-aging ingredient can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as prevent blocked pores. It works by increasing cell turnover rate, which can reduce the appearance of dark spots and discoloration. This is a nighttime product, as it can cause sensitivity to the sun. Using a retinoid 2-3 nights per week (as tolerated) is typically recommended.


  • AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids), when used 2-3 times per week, will target pigmentation during it’s “expression” stage. They help shed the skin of cells with pigment. Look for products containing glycolic acid or lactic acid. A series of peels containing these acids will also help.

Pigment Suppressor:

  • Hydroquinone is an effective pigment suppressor for those suffering from melasma or other forms of stubborn, hormonally-induced hyperpigmentation that is resistant to other treatments. Obagi C-Clarifying serum contains both Vitamin C and 4% hydroquinone that can be applied daily. It’s important to note that products containing hydroquinone are not intended for long term use. It can be used twice daily for up to 6 months.


*Results after 4 months of hyperpigmentation skincare regimen.


Emily Sespaniak, NP-C

Contact Our Office

To learn more or if you would like to schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss your skin concerns, give our office a call at (415) 923-3067.


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Dr. Karen M. Horton, M.D. - Plastic Surgery, Physicians & Surgeons - Medical-M.D., San Francisco, CA