Brown spots. Age spots. Liver spots. They don’t sound nice, and they certainly don’t look nice. Significant hyperpigmentation can make you appear years older than your chronologic age. Getting rid of them can take time, and keeping them at bay takes diligence, but we consider it a worthy endeavor.
Hyperpigmentation comes from melanin production, and is a direct result of irritation and inflammation. The biggest culprit is that lovely warm ball of light in the sky. Other causes of inflammation are acne, injury, and even the things we do to look prettier like phototherapy, peels, and laser treatments. Add a hefty dose of hormones like those that elevate during pregnancy or with birth control pills and hormone replacement, and your skin can look dirty, dingy, and lose its glow.
Melasma, sometimes referred to as the “mask of pregnancy”, is a common medical condition where people suffer from an abundance of a hormone that stimulates melanin production. Unfortunately there is no medical treatment or “cure”, but your hormone levels may change with age. In these patients even sun exposure on your arms or legs can worsen the large patches of pigmentation on your face. Control using skin care is key, and phototherapy is best avoided.
Prevention is Key
It may get old to hear us preach about sun protection, but it is a key part of reducing your hyperpigmentation. Use your sunscreen daily, and re-apply as needed. Remember that the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is only reliable for two hours.
Medical Skin Care
Hydroquinone is a prescription strength skin brightener that disrupts the cycle of melanin production. Found in products like Obagi Clear and Blender it can be used as part of your regular skin care, and is highly recommended both before (2-6 weeks) and after your skin procedure to reduce hyperpigmentation in response to your treatment. Botanical skin brighteners like IS Clinical’s White Lightening and Epionce MelanoLyte can also be used alone or in conjunction with hydroquinone. A retinoid (Retinol or Retin A) should be incorporated into your skin care regime to turn over your skin, reduce pigmentation, and stimulate growth of the good collagen producing cells that diminish with age. For best results use sun protection daily (and throughout the day), alternate every few months between hydroquinone and a botanical brightener, and use the strength of a retinoid that you can tolerate daily.
We have multiple treatments that can be used in addition to skin care to help treat hyperpigmentation. Broad Band Light (BBL) a phototherapy or light treatment targets the browns and reds in your skin. This, like many other treatments, is best done in a series. It can also be performed in conjunction with other helpful treatments like Microneedling, Intracel (Microneedling with radiofrequency which is a form a heat that treats deep textural problems in the skin), our Halo Laser, or Sciton Micro Laser Peel and Profractional. Again, before and after any treatment medical skin care and sun avoidance is essential for getting and maintaining beautiful results.