Melasma is a pigmentation disorder of the face that occurs most commonly in women that are pregnant or using an oral contraceptive. Unfortunately it is not well understood but is likely caused by several factors including sun exposure, hormonal imbalance, and genetics.
Treatment involves laser technology with a specific laser wavelength. This is known to be a very successful treatment that will lighten or remove the pigmented lesions from the skin.
The symptoms can include dark patches and spots on the cheeks, forehead, nose and upper lip. Melasma is a purely cosmetic concern however it does often relate to hormonal imbalances in some women that should be addressed.
Cutting edge melasma treatment is now available with the Discovery Pico laser.
What Causes Melasma?
Melasma can be a result of genetics, endocrine dysfunction, certain medications, specific nutritional deficiencies, and hepatic (liver) dysfunction, hormones such as oestrogen, progesterone and thyroid hormone, and sun exposure also contribute to the condition.
Hormones stimulate the production of melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells in our skin. The pigmentation tends to be symmetrical, unlike the unsymmetrical patterns of melanoma, the dangerous form of skin cancer.
While aesthetically distressing, the hyper-pigmentation of melasma is harmless and can be left untreated if preferred. Asian or Mediterranean skin find increased spots of pigment difficult to camouflage and are often the first to seek treatment. These skin types have a higher level of melanin to begin with, thus making it more reactive to the triggers for melasma.
Some cases of melasma will resolve by themselves particularly a few months after pregnancy or following the cessation of the contraceptive pill or other hormonal modulations.
Persistent and recurring cases can however become long term unless addressed properly. Total sun avoidance can bring relief. It is however important to remember that some sun exposure is essential for Vitamin D absorption a critical vitamin for health and well-being. Using an SPF 30 zinc oxide based sunscreen is highly recommended on the pigmented areas during sun exposure.
How do you treat Melasma?
Specific laser wavelengths has been very successful at removing melasma pigmentation. Our protocol actually uses 5 different applications to collapse the deeper vessels and to break up the pigment. A combination of Pico, Photo-Thermal, Non-Ablative fractional and Q -switched lasers are used. Laser treatments are often spaced four weeks apart. We like to use a healing low level light laser therapy following our Pico Plus laser melasma facial to help in the healing of the skin.
Does the treatment hurt?
Common in many laser dermatological treatments, some temporary irritation and mild swelling in the treated areas can occur. Pain is generally tolerated due to the low energy use of the laser however numbing cream might be required for some. A light snap sound will be heard and a mild sensation similar to an elastic band flicked on the skin during the procedure. While the treatment uses low laser energy, it is high enough to break up the pigment sufficiently without heating the skin excessively.
What to expect
We will be applying a chemical free moisturiser and sunscreen on your face immediately after the treatment. Your skin can look grey in the treated areas one to two days after treatment has occurred. This colour represents the deadening of the pigment and should resolve soon after. Appointments should ideally be scheduled 4 weeks apart. 4 to 6 treatments are often required, varying from patient to patient. We can also recommend health care providers to assist you in looking in depth at the cause of your condition. Stress, oestrogen dominance, vitamin and mineral assessment, thyroid hormone levels would likely be investigated. Good skin care comes from inside as well as out.
Investing in good skin care
Ingredients that are anti-inflammatory, non- comodogenic, UV protective and lightening are ideal for melasma.
Tyrosine is an amino-acid that is required to make melatonin so we recommend the use of tyrosine inhibitors in your skin care regime such as Vitamin B3, Vitamin A and C (Kakadu Plum, Pomegranate). Other skin lighteners are Kojic Acid (from Shitake mushrooms), Liquorice Root, Bearberry and Cranberries ( Alpha-Arbutin),Azeliac Acid and Green Tea. We do not recommend Hydroquinone as it is considered carcinogenic (cancer causing). We strongly recommend you apply daily a physical barrier sunscreen that contains zinc oxide.
DisclaimerThe information contained on this site is general in nature and for informational purposes. Read more….
For any health concerns, Dr Julie Epstein MBBS FRACP, an Integrative Consulting Physician with a long term interest in internal Anti-Ageing Medicine and Hormonal Imbalances is available for consultation at our premises. She investigates the whole body ecosystem and its balance rather than organ specific medicine. Evidence based medicine underpins Dr Epstein’s assessments, diagnoses and treatments.