What You Need to Know About Melasma

Have you noticed large brown patches on your face?  Specifically on your forehead, cheeks, nose or upper lip?  If so, chances are, you’re suffering from melasma.  If you’ve tried over the counter skin products that claim to lighten this pigment, you are more than likely frustrated with the lack of results.  In this blog you will find helpful tips on what you need to know about melasma and how to manage it.  If you’re ready to clear your skin and ditch the makeup, contact our office today for a complimentary skin evaluation.

What is Melasma?

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Melasma are brown or gray patches on the skin.  This pigment is typically hormonally induced from pregnancy or women taking birth control. Sun exposure can attribute to the pigment as well, making it appear darker on the skin.  It is a condition where the body produces excess melanocyte cells that clump together.  The result of this is dark patches that are stubborn and hard to cover. Due to the fact that the pigment is caused primarily by hormones, many  women will see this discoloration fade after pregnancy or at the cessation of birth control.  While melamsa is not painful, it can cause emotional distress for the close to 6 million women in American alone that suffer from this pigment.

While it is hard to treat, it’s not impossible.  Aside from hormonal changes there is no real cure for melasma.  However, over the years with the evolution of clinical skin care, there have been huge strides in the treatment of melasma.  At our Kansas City area Medical Spa, our licensed estheticians, Heather and Natalie have had extensive training with the treatment of melasma.  As with any pigment, melasma can be located at the surface of the skin(epidermal) or deep in the skin(dermal).  It is impossible to see where your melasma lies with the naked eye.  We offer complimentary skin care assessments, where your esthetician will take your photos with our Visia skin analysis system.  This will allow them to see the exact severity and placement of your melasma.  Because of this, they will be able to formulate a completely customized product and treatment plan just for you.

Options for Treating Melasma

Clinical skin care has come a long way over the years.  With that so has the treatment of melasma.  The most know treatment for melasma is the use of the prescription product hydroquinone.  Hydroquinone is a bleaching agent that is used to lighten hyperpigmentation on the skin.  This product delivers the best results when used in combination with a Tretinoin(Retin-A) product. Laser treatments and chemical peels can also be beneficial in the treatment of melasma.  Listed below you will find specific options that we offer at our MedSpa to treat and lighten this stubborn pigment.

  • Obagi Nu-Derm – this is a full product line to be used at home.  For years Obagi Nu-Derm has been the gold standard in melasma treatment.  Formulating each product to work synergistically together, to give dramatic results while keeping the skin healthy.  From the cleanser and toner that keep the skin pH balanced,  to the AHA exfoliation and bleaching products, your skin will transform in just a few short weeks.  The main ingredients in the Nu-Derm line are hydroquinone and retin-a.  Using a retin-a product will increase the cell turn over and allow the products to penetrate into the skin.  With adding AHA ingredients in some of the products, you will see enhanced skin tone and get more benefit from each product.  While the results from Obagi Nu-Derm are amazing, it is not a long term product line.  Most women choose to use it through the fall or winter to rid excess pigment from the summer. Your esthetician will determine which products will be best for maintenance during your Obagi ‘off-season’.
  • Halo – This hybrid dual wavelength laser targets the surface and depth of the skin simultaneously. After your skin assessment, your esthetician will determine the appropriate settings for each wavelength to deliver the best results.  After an hour of numbing with a powerful topical anesthetic, your provider will administer the laser over your skin.  The treatment takes approximately 15-20 minutes.  The recovery process after Halo is very easy and fast, with beautiful skin revealed in around 5 days. Once you’ve fully recovered, Natalie or Heather will give full recommendations of the proper skin regime for you to maintain your results.  Adding a topical anti-oxidant and sunscreen will be imperative for long lasting results.
  • ViPeel – Superficial pigment is easily treated with  a series of powerful chemical peels.  Typically after a 3-4 month cycle of the Obagi Nu-Derm product line, adding a chemical peel or two will enhance your results and give a great rejuvenation.  Applied in the office, this self-neutralizing peel will remove surface skin and pigment with no discomfort and around 3-5 days of peeling.  Following your peel, your esthetician will recommend the proper products for you to continue treating your melasma and seeing beautiful results

What not to do with Melasma

There are some specific no-no’s when you have melasma.  Prior to any treatment or product, always consult with a professional to get a proper diagnosis.  Improperly treating melasma can have some hard to reverse side effects.  Heather and Natalie, our licensed estheticians will explain all of the treatments that are safe and that are not during your complimentary skin care consultation.  There are 2 main things you want to avoid when you have melasma

  1. BBLBroad band light, or IPL, is a light based treatment used to target hyperpigmentation.  However, using this on melasma will darken the pigment and potentially bring more to the surface.  Melasma is stimulated by heat and light- which is exactly what this treatment is.
  2. Sun Exposure– this one can definitely be more tricky to avoid.  You want to avoid the sun as much as you can to prevent melasma from re appearing or darkening.  Sun exposure stimulates melanin production.  This can ‘wake up’ and dormant or lightening melasma and bring it to the surface.  Professional skin care products, including a stable Vitmain C, a daily discoloration corrector with Tranexamic acid and broad spectrum SPF(re apply every 2 hours), and seek the shade, wear a hat and avoid the sun as much as you can.

Maintenance

In most cases, maintenance for melasma is required.  Continuing with monthly Diamond Glow facials and Obagi, Halo or ViPeels yearly will continue to improve your skin over time.  As with every skin condition, it is different on everyone and your esthetician will formulate the best maintenance program for you.  If you’re ready to clear your skin and ditch the filters, contact our Kansas City MedSpa today to get started.

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