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Dr. Shah’s Mailbox

Sejal Shah, M.D. is a board certified dermatologist and skin of color expert at Schweiger Dermatology in NYC. Her expertise is in laser and light based treatment for acne, acne scars and wrinkles in patients with darker skin types. She frequently gets emailed questions from patients all around the country seeking her expert advice. Here are a few questions and answers to share with you. Q: I am a 34 year old Indian woman who lives in Brooklyn, New York. I have had bad acne scarring for years. I have read that lasers are not safe for my skin type. Is that correct or are there any laser treatments that could help my acne scars?" A: I am happy to report that there are several lasers that we use to treat acne scarring which can safely be used in your skin type. The Laser Genesis and Fraxel Restore are both "color-blind" lasers that have safely been used with people of darker skin. Both deliver heat to the dermis and help rebuild collagen that has been broken down by acne scars. Laser Genesis is a non-aggressive treatment and has no downtime and no discomfort. Fraxel Restore is a non-ablative resurfacing laser which does not break the skin surface so there is minimal downtime. A numbing cream is applied to a skin for 1 hour prior to the procedure to minimize any discomfort. Immediately after the treatment the treated skin will be swollen for 1-2 days and red for a few days. As the redness subsides you may have some mild peeling and transient bronzing of the skin. Generally the skin looks back to normal in 1-2 weeks. Both these lasers require a series of treatments. Lastly, we use the MiXto CO2 laser, an ablative fractional carbon dioxide laser, to treat focal areas of scarring in darker skin types. This is the most aggressive option and has approximately a week of downtime after which the skin may still appear pink for a few weeks. However because it is much more intense it only requires 1-2 treatments. Q: "Hi Dr. Shah: I am a 24 year old Chinese female from San Francisco, California. I have dark marks on my face from acne 3 months ago. What causes this? Are there any topical medications I can apply to help and is it necessary for me to see a dermatologist or can I buy these at a drug store? Thanks!" A: Dark marks after acne are a common occurrence for people with skin of color. The inflammation from the acne causes the pigment producing cells in the skin to make more pigment, or melanin. Unfortunately after the acne clears the dark marks, or postinflammatory hyperpigmentation, can persist for months or even years. There are over-the-counter (OTC) treatments available which contain hydroquinone 1% or 2%, various antioxidants, such as vitamin c, or other cosmeceutical agents, such as soy, niacinamide, glycolid acid and kojic acid, that have lightening properties. However, prescription strength hydroquinone, such as EnlightenME (available at Schweiger Dermatology), is the gold standard lightening agent. Prescription strength topical retinoids or azeleic acid also have the ability to lighten dark spots. It's a good idea to have a consultation with a dermatologist who can recommend not only prescription products but also effective OTC products as well as chemical peels and laser treatments If you would like to ask Dr Shah a question, please email us at with “Question for Dr. Shah” in the subject. To schedule an appointment with NYC Dermatologist Dr. Shah please click here.
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Schweiger Dermatology

110 East 55th Street
New York, NY 10022

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We Serve the following areas within New York City: Midtown East, Midtown West, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Midtown Manhattan, Greenwich Village, East Village, West Village, Soho, Tribeca, Murray Hill, Gramercy, Wall Street, Hell’s Kitchen, and the Burroughs of Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island.

NYC Cosmetic Dermatology