A review of combined treatments for melasma involving energy-based devices and proposed pathogenesis-oriented combinations

Joseph N. Mehrabi, Efrat Bar-Ilan, Shehadeh Wasim, Amir Koren, Lior Zusmanovitch, Fares Salameh, Gila Isman Nelkenbaum, Tamir Horovitz, Eyal Zur, Ting Song Lim, Jacob Mashiah, Ofir Artzi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Melasma is an acquired disorder of hyperpigmentation, affecting a million individuals worldwide. Energy-based devices (EBDs) employed to treat melasma include various types of lasers, intense pulsed light (IPL), and radiofrequency (RF). Recent studies have attempted to address recalcitrant and recurring melasma by combining energy-based devices with topical or oral medications. Objective: This article reviews EBDs-based augmented treatment for melasma and suggests practical pathogenesis-oriented treatment regimens. Treatment algorithms are proposed to address various components of melasma. Methods: A systematic PubMed search was conducted acquiring information from various studies on combination treatments of melasma involving EBDs. Results: The 286 retrieved articles were filtered by title to contain at least one type of energy-based modality such as laser, IPL, or RF along with at least one other treatment method. Based on their subject matter, combinations were further categorized into the subheadings: laser plus medication, laser plus laser, and IPL- and RF-containing treatment methods. Conclusion: There are many energy-based combination treatments that have been explored for mitigation of melasma including laser therapy with medication, multi-laser therapies, IPL, RF, and microneedling devices. Melasma is an exceedingly difficult condition to treat, however, choosing the appropriate tailor-made treatment combination can improve the final outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-472
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cosmetic Dermatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022


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