Low-fluence Q-switched neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet (1,064 nm) laser for the treatment of facial melasma in Asians

Dermatol Surg. 2010;36(1):76-87. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-4725.2009.01383.x.


Background: Pigment lasers have been used in melasma with unsatisfactory results.

Objective: To determine the effectiveness and safety of 1,064-nm Q-switched neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet (QS-Nd:YAG) laser treatment of melasma in Asians.

Materials and methods: Split-face randomized study comparing combination QS-Nd:YAG laser and 2% hydroquinone with topical treatment in dermal or mixed-type melasma. Twenty-two patients were treated with 1,064-nm QS-Nd:YAG laser, 6-mm spot size, 3.0- to 3.8-J/cm(2) fluence for five sessions at 1-week intervals. Pigmentation was objectively recorded using a colorimeter (lightness index score), and subjective assessments were evaluated using the modified Melasma Area and Severity Index (mMASI) score.

Results: After five laser treatments, statistically significant improvement of melasma from baseline was observed in colorimeter (p<.001) and mMASI score (p<.001) on the laser side. The laser side achieved an average 92.5% improvement in relative lightness index and 75.9% improvement in mMASI, compared with 19.7% and 24%, respectively, on the control side (p<.001). Mottled hypopigmentation developed in three patients. During follow-up, four of 22 patients developed rebound hyperpigmentation, and all patients had recurrence of melasma.

Conclusion: QS-Nd:YAG laser treatment for melasma in Asians produced only temporary improvement and had side effects. Common complications were hypopigmentation, melasma recurrence, and rebound hyperpigmentation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Adult
  • Asian People
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Dermatologic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroquinones / administration & dosage
  • Lasers, Solid-State
  • Low-Level Light Therapy*
  • Male
  • Melanosis / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin / radiation effects*
  • Skin Pigmentation / drug effects
  • Skin Pigmentation / radiation effects*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Hydroquinones
  • hydroquinone