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Homepage // Blog / Facing the Facts: Comprehensive Treatments for Skin Discoloration on the Face

Facing the Facts: Comprehensive Treatments for Skin Discoloration on the Face

by | Mar 10, 2024 | Cosmetic Dermatology, Laser Treatment

If skin discoloration makes you feel embarrassed about your complexion, you’re not alone. Skin discoloration is a common skin condition that affects people of all ages. Fortunately, several safe and effective treatment options are available to even out your skin tone and boost your confidence.

Understanding Skin Discoloration

Patches of discolored skin may appear lighter, darker, or a completely different color from your natural skin tone. They may be red, gray, blue, or change in color over time. Many pigmentation disorders can cause skin discoloration on the face, including:


  • Melasma – a common pigmentation disorder, also called the “mask of pregnancy,” that causes dark patches of skin on the cheeks, nose, forehead, chin, and upper lip.
  • Hyperpigmentation – darkened areas of skin that may manifest as age spots, liver spots, or sun spots.
  • Hypopigmentation – patches of skin that are lighter than your overall skin tone and caused by decreased melanin production.
  • Vitiligo – a skin disorder that causes loss of skin color in patches and often appears white.
before and after image of a laser treatment for unwanted skin pigmentation also known as melasma on a woman's face
before and after of a laser treatment for skin discoloration
skin discoloration treatment results

Primary Causes of Skin Discoloration

Treating face discoloration involves determining its underlying cause. Common causes of skin discoloration include:


These marks can be vascular (related to blood vessels) or pigmented. They’re typically visible at birth are almost always permanent without treatment.

Skin pigmentation disorders

Light or darker skin patches may signify a skin pigmentation disorder such as melasma, vitiligo, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation, or albinism.

Skin rashes

Rosacea, psoriasis, contact dermatitis, and eczema can cause patches of discolored skin.

Skin infections

Tinea versicolor, ringworm, and candidiasis of the skin may also cause discoloration.

Skin cancer

In rare cases, actinic keratosis (pre-cancer), basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma can cause patches of discoloration.

Clinical Treatments for Skin Discoloration

Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York can address discoloration of the skin with many versatile laser treatments, such as:

Clear + Brilliant®

This gentle laser treatment can address superficial pigmentation and other signs of aging to brighten the skin and achieve a more even-toned appearance.

Clear + Brilliant® Permea

This low-power fractional laser targets pigment without damaging the skin’s surface. Most patients see visible improvements within 4-6 sessions.

Fraxel Dual®

This fractional laser treats only a fraction of tissue at a time, leaving the surrounding tissue undamaged. Results are noticeable as the skin heals, typically about one week after treatment. Improvements will continue to progress for months after treatment.


This non-ablative laser creates micro-channels with minimal disruption to the skin’s surface layer for faster healing and reduced downtime. Initial results are visible soon after your treatment and continue to improve as collagen production increases.

skin discoloration before and after laser treatment
treatment for skin pigmentation results


This laser emits precise levels of laser energy directly into the pigment in melasma, pigmentation, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, age spots, and freckles. The pigmented marks absorb the energy to break up and treat discoloration.


This laser delivers short pulses of laser energy into the pigment in age spots, freckles, brown spots, and melasma, breaking it into small particles that the body can dispose of naturally. There is little to no downtime after treatment, and side effects like swelling and skin redness should not prevent you from engaging in your regular activities. The initial results are evident as soon as the skin heals.


This laser combines nanosecond and picosecond wavelengths to break pigmented spots into fragments. It is one of the most advanced treatments for removing undesirable pigmentation and discoloration on the skin, targeting melanin without damaging the surrounding skin or tissue.

Ruby laser

This Q-switched laser has a 694nm wavelength specifically designed to treat pigment in freckles, sun spots, lentigos, age spots, and melasma. The laser pulses shatter pigment into microscopic particles so the body can flush them out naturally.

solutions for skin discoloration infographic

Topical Treatments

Mild skin discoloration may be treatable with over-the-counter products such as:

Chemical solutions

Acidic solutions can help exfoliate or shed the top layer of your skin. This process allows new skin cells to emerge and replace damaged ones to even out your skin tone. Examples of acids for facial discoloration include:

  • Alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic, lactic, citric, malic, or tartaric acid)
  • Azelaic acid
  • Kojic acid
  • Salicylic acid
  • Vitamin C (l-ascorbic acid)
  • Retinoids

Retinoids boost skin cell turnover, reducing the overall appearance of discolored skin.

Prescription products

Your board-certified dermatologist may also prescribe lightening products like hydroquinone or cortisone to help fade dark spots. They may also prescribe retinoid or tretinoin with more potent formulas, or oral tranexamic acid, which reduces the amount of melanin in the skin.

Preventive Measures

Preventing skin discoloration can help protect your complexion. Preventive measures you can take include:

Limit sun exposure

Diligently apply broad-spectrum sunscreen everyday, even on cloudy days, to prevent sun-induced discoloration. You can also wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face.

Use gentle skincare products

Strong or harsh products can sting and burn the skin which can cause skin irritation and trigger hyperpigmentation.

Keep hands off bug bites and other skin injuries

Picking at a spot increases inflammation which can lead to discoloration.

Treat spots immediately

The sooner you treat discoloration, the easier it is to treat. Seek advice from your board-certified dermatologist, who can recommend the right spot-treatment products you can use.

Schedule a skin discoloration treatment in New York

The board-certified physicians at Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York specialize in treating various skin conditions, including skin discoloration. With access to a wide range of laser devices, they can create customized treatment plans that address skin discoloration for both medical and cosmetic reasons.

Our in-house research center also studies the most cutting-edge devices to provide patients with the safest and most effective skin treatments. Contact us to schedule a consultation and learn more about treatments for skin discoloration.

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