People around you see them as irregular patches of brown pigment on the cheeks, upper lip, forehead, chin or nose. You see them as embarrassing confidence-killers, especially if others are mistaking the blotches for something worse such as dirt or hair! But don't worry, you are not alone. Hormonal pigmentation (or melasma) affects a great number of people, especially women in their younger years.
What is hormonal pigmentation?
Hormonal pigmentation or melasma is most common in women and affects more than 40 million people worldwide. It appears as irregular patches of brown skin on the forehead, cheeks, upper lip, chin and nose and is more commonly seen in people with darker complexions. It is not dangerous but can be unsightly and embarrassing for those who suffer with it.
What causes melasma?
Melasma is caused by an increased production of melanin and there is often a family history.
Melasma usually occurs during times of hormonal fluctuations associated with pregnancy, oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy. For some, the condition fades after childbirth, hormone therapy or discontinuation of oral contraceptives. For many it does not and it can prove to be very difficult to successfully remove.
What is the treatment for melasma?
Sun protection is the most important part of treatment since the pigment will continue to darken with exposure. Traditional methods used to remove melasma include chemical or acid peels, dermabrasion, bleaches, pulsed light and traditional laser treatments. Many of these can result in significant downtime with transient and lacklustre results and have risks of adverse complications.
At Laser Skin Care we have the latest in Fraxel Dual technology offering revolutionary, non-invasive melasma laser treatment.
Why is Fraxel Treatment more advantageous over other laser treatments for pigmentation?
- It improves all types of melasma pigmentation.
- It can be used on all skin types, including darker complexions, but at lower settings and multiple treatments may be required.
- Lightening of the pigment can be seen within a few weeks.
- It improves texture and radiance of he skin.
- It also improves sun damage, brown spots and wrinkles.
An alternative to Fraxel laser is Q-switched Nd:YAG laser. At Laser Skin Care we have the Cynosure Revlite Laser, and this can be employed for melasma treatment and can be very effective. YAG laser requires a course of treatment, in general a minimum of 3-4 treatments spaced 4 weeks apart. One advantage of YAG laser treatment is the minimal downtime associated with the treatment.
Pigment Fading Preparations
Pigment fading creams, gels or serums are an important adjunct in the management of melasma or hormonal pigmentation. Our doctors will usually prescribe medical strength pigment fade cream. In addition, Vitamin C serum &/or Niacinamide serum can be beneficial.
UV light exposure is very important in prevention and improvement of hormonal pigmentation. Good SPF 30 sunblock and Vitamin C serums can assist. UV tinting in the car is important.
1 month post 1 treatment
1 month post 2 treatments
Baseline and 2 months after 4 treatments
Baseline and 3 months after 1 treatments
Please note that melasma treatment with laser does not necessarily prevent recurrence. Some form of ongoing treatment is usually needed.