Is laser treatment a permanent solution for freckles?

Doctor's Answers (5)

Pigmentary conditions can be complex as it comes in varying types, hence determining an individual’s skin pigmentary disorder might prove challenging to the average person with an untrained eye. More often than not, there might also be an overlap of more than one pigmentary condition in some patients.

The common types of pigmentary conditions include:

  1. freckles
  2. melasma
  3. birthmarks

Asian and darker skin types frequently present with a treatment dilemma – combination of stubborn pigmentation and high risk of side effects from aggressive treatments. This is why pigmentation treatment needs to be very precise and occasionally multimodal.

Various pigmentation treatment options include:

  1. Correct identification of reversible factors – prevention is better than cure!
  2. Skincare for proper maintenance, pre and post-care.
  3. Medical procedures such as medical peels and lasers to help directly remove or hasten fading of pigmentation.
  4. Medications are sometimes required for certain types of pigmentation

The appropriate treatment starts with a correct diagnosis.

Pigmentation of different types and different skin layers respond best to different treatments, and it is a common misconception that lasers that penetrate deep into the skin can treat all types of pigmentation.

Laser treatments are extremely effective for treatment of freckles, and complete removal can be achieved in as little as one session, even though some individuals may require more than one session.

Results are permanent until you get exposed to too much UV radiation – most of our patients don’t develop any recurrence if they properly take care of their skin.

It’s a little-known secret that there actually different types of freckles! Not surprisingly, different freckle types are best treated with a different procedure – so if your freckles are not responding to treatment, it might be because of a suboptimal or wrong treatment.

Consult a doctor you trust, for treatment to be carefully customized according to your skin type and condition. I hope this answer helps you!

Hi Poh Ching Tan,

It is true that development of freckles is dependant on genetic factors and environmental factors especially sun exposure.

Even before considering treatment, it is important for you to avoid excessive sun exposure as this can aggravate the freckles and also increase the risk of recurrence if you go for treatment. Regular use of sunscreens will be helpful.

If your pigmentation is due to freckles, they do usually respond well to pigment laser treatment. It may generally take between 1 to 3 treatments but there is no guarantee that it will clear with a single treatment. Freckles respond well to IPL (Intense Pulse Light) treatment too. This has less down-time but may require more treatment sessions.

Yes, freckles start developing in your teens and do get darker.

Using sunscreen is essential to prevent them from darkening, increasing in numbers and recurring. Sunscreen has to be applied every 2 – 4 hourly.

Pigment lasers are used to remove these freckles, however they might require 1 – 3 sessions of laser treatments. Of course, diligent sunscreen application after laser treatments helps to prevent recurrence. Thanks.

Hi Ching Tan,

Pigmentation is a complex problem requiring proper diagnosis and a treatment plan from a doctor.

Different types of pigmentation respond to different treatments. These include creams, chemical peels and lasers. Different lasers are also indicated for different pigmentation. A course of treatments is usually needed, depending on your skin condition.

There is NO confirmed one-time solution for pigmentation, whatever the modality of treatment.

Hi Ching Tan,

It is true that freckles are related to genetic factors and can be aggravated by excessive sun exposure.

The best way to remove freckles is with pigmentation lasers (eg Q-switched Nd Yag laser).

You can expect downtime of redness of 1 day followed by dry scabbing for 5-7 days, with a couple of laser sessions. This downtime can be readily concealed, so you can still resume your daily activities.

Sun protection measures before and after the laser sessions are equally important for sustainable results, otherwise the freckles can slowly recur.

So I would recommend you to speak to an experienced doctor in treating pigmentations with lasers to discuss on the most suitable treatment options for you.

If you are keen for more detailed information on treatments of freckles (including photos of the expected downtime) and also other common types of pigmentations, you can find out more in my "Ultimate Guide to Pigmentation Treatment in Singapore".

Hope this helps!


Dr David Ng C H

Health on the Net Foundation

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All content posted is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. This Q&A is not a patient consultation and any information provided herein is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified medical professional. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment.

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