Skin Pigmentation Causes & Treatments
Something that we see very commonly in our practice our patients that come to us to look for treatments for pigmentation. So pigmentation is something that’s really common. It’s common to all of our clientele because pigment doesn’t discriminate, it can be something that effects all skin types quite universally. So what is it exactly? It’s something that caused by melanin. So melanin is something in all of our skin that we all have, and it’s responsible for giving us each our unique skin color. So melanin has a good, it’s a good thing. It also has a protective role, and it absorbs harmful UV light from the sun, and protects us from the damaging effects of these UV rays. However, if they get overexposed to sun, then they can malfunction and start to overproduce and become really dark in color, and give us an uneven skin tone. So that’s pretty much what pigmentation is.
And as [Yaz 00:00:59] mentioned, the reason that we see it so commonly across our clinics is because we live in Australia and we have a culture of sun worship, so often we hear a lot of clients coming in saying when they’re a big more mature, “In our 20s we didn’t know the importance of using sunscreen, so we used to sit out at the beach with baby oil on, basically cooking our skin.” So it’s something that we do see a lot of it.
Absolutely. And it’s not just sun that can cause pigmentation, there are other factors as well such as hormones, internal and exogenous, so things like the pill and various medications. Also, trauma to the area can leave behind some pigmentation as well, so it’s not just the sun.
So Yaz touched briefly on hormonal pigmentation, so that’s called melasma, and it can occur throughout various stages of growth. Often it comes up during pregnancy, or ladies report either starting or stopping the pill-
The pill, yeah.
Is also when they notice it a little bit more. So this type of pigmentation doesn’t look like individual dark spots, it looks like a general shading over the skin with undefined borders, and usually it happens maybe across the top of the cheeks is quite common, the upper lip, and then in the forehead as well.
Yeah, exactly. So that’s a really good description, and now lets talk about what we can do to treat these problems.
So basically what we like to do is a combination of modalities, so we like to combine lasers, IPL therapy, home care and-
Chemical pills, thank you, as well. So the first thing that we like to start off with is something that’s the gold standard in the industry for pigmentation and melasma, and that’s the 10-64 Q-switched laser. Essentially what this does is it shatters the pigmentation into tiny manageable pieces for your body to be able to then clear from the skin, so that’s a really great and wonderful treatment. Also, a side effect of that treatment, if you will, is that it helps reduce pore size and can help with skin tightening as well, so you get a dual benefit. The next thing that we would like to touch on is IPL, so that’s Intensive Pulse Light Therapy, and that basically cooks the pigment, so it makes it go dark, it comes to the surface and flakes off. The next thing we like to do is chemical peels, so that essentially helps remove the first few layers of dead, useless skin, and with it any superficial pigment as well, helping it to become lighter.
The most important thing I should say when it comes to pigmentation is SPF. If you can protect your sun, your pigmentation every single day from the sun then you’re already helping us out.
Prevention is better than the cure.
Exactly. And a lot of our clients say, “My pigment looks worse over summer, and in winter it looks lighter,” and that’s because the melanin becomes really active in summer and appears darker.
Yeah. The other thing we hear a lot of is clients that come in and say, “Oh, I’ve had my pigment treated three years ago but it’s all come back.” And the goal of treatment, when we’re talking about pigmentation is never to get rid of it 100%, because the thing is you’re always going to be stimulating those melanin cells to produce more melanin. So after an initial course of treatments there’s always the maintenance phase of treatment as well, so you’ll always be coming back just to suppress that melanin from coming up and forming pigmentation.
All right, so both of, so all of those treatments, I should say, are available at both of our locations, so if you have any more questions, or if you’re unsure if you have pigment or melasma or what it is just come in and ask us. Dr. Solomon is really wonderful at helping identify which treatments would be best as well, and we can hope to see you soon.
So the best thing to do would be to come in and have a VISIA scan, and what that is is basically just like an X-ray of your skin, and then we see what’s going on underneath and we can really see the pattern of sun damage under the skin, and then we can make our recommendations on what we think would be the best treatment modality to get you the best results for your type of pigment.