Understanding Pigmentation

March 20, 2018

The Correct Treatment for your exact Pigmentation

What is Pigmentation?

As simply as we can put it, pigmentation is a colouration of the skin, which can take the form of an evenly glossed bronzed skin-tone or an uneven blemish to one’s aesthetics.

This can take the form of freckles, sun spots, age spot or normal skin pigmentation.

Ultimately, the results of irregular pigmentation are a blotchy skin-tone & very often a dull complexion. Do not let the explanation stop there however… correct treatment requires a deep understanding of the different types of pigmentation, because to effectively attain a result we will need to treat the cause of the condition & the eliminate the existing undesired symptoms.

Treating the cause means inhibiting the mechanism creating the pigmentation in the first place, while treatment will require us to eliminate the existing pockets of melanin causing uneven pigmentation.

What’s new in the world of Pigmentation?

As our understanding deepens – we have the ability to tackle different forms of pigmentation in the different layers of skin.

You need to evaluate & understand your specific pigmentation before making a treatment selection.

Freckles – these are forms of hyperpigmentation & occur more commonly in people with fair skin. They appear more frequently in areas of skin that are regularly exposed to sunlight. The key treatment indicator with freckles, if you wish to correct the pigmentation issue, is to understand the exact cause.

  • Genetics– in the case of genetic freckles we must understand that sun exposure will only worsen the condition & immediate broad-spectrum sunblock action should be taken. The second key element to understand is that genetic freckles develop from deep within the dermis & to clear this type of pigmentation it will take very accurate treatment to eradicate the pockets of melanin still making its way to the surface.
  • Overexposure to Sunlight– freckles are pockets of pigmentation that will only worsen with exposure to sunlight. The key to treating sun exposure freckles is to treat the skin actively with a broad-spectrum sunblock & begin inhibiting the production on melanin in the skin.

 

Sun Spots – they are also commonly called age-spots because they appear more regularly in older skin; and in areas over-exposed to the sun (very common on the cheeks, temples, nose & hands). Apart from giving away our age, we must remember that pigmentation is a way of our body protecting itself from sun damage. The more exposure we’ve had in our youth – the larger our sun spots will become & the more visible too. This also makes treatment more difficult.

Key elements to consider:

  • Pigmentation presenting as age-spots will have high concentration of melanin through the skin layers. This makes treatment protocols very specific as we will need to target not only melanin production at a cellular level but also target a history of melanin in the different layers of skin. This means multiple treatments using multiple tools to eliminate the visibility of pigmentation in each specific layer of skin.
  • Lifestyle habits will need to change to complete the treatment. This means your body is trained to produce melanin in reaction to a lifestyle of sun exposure. We need habits to change to aid in minimizing production of melanin.

 

Melasma – this form of pigmentation can lead to individuals feeling extremely self-conscious as the appearance is very widespread & very noticeable. Melasma is characterized by large blotches of pigmentation that appear across the cheeks & very often spreads to the forehead. Melasma most often, affects individuals with darker complexions. The most common cause of melasma is hormones i.e. during pregnancy or when changing birth control pills for example, but melasma issues can also be genetic.

Treatment of hormonal melasma can be extremely complicated.

How do we treat the cause, when the cause is purely hormonal? To complicate matters further – any aggressive treatment will create a sensitivity to the sun which could make the skin susceptible to other forms of pigmentation.

So how do we go about treating Melasma? The first key element is prevention. If you are concerned with Melasma running in your family or you are preparing to start a family – then prepare your skin with melanin inhibiting products & treatments which could include supplements like Crystal Tomato or Skin Brightening treatments, plus always ensure you are using a broad-spectrum SPF.

To tackle existing Melasma we need to gently address the visible melanin in the skin from the surface towards the deeper skin layers using a combination of approaches.

Key factors include eliminating visible pigmentation (from the surface) using light chemical peels & targeting deeper concentrations of pigment with laser, being careful to minimize aggressive treatments that increase risk to other forms of pigmentation.

Treatment of Melasma is an ongoing process until the hormonal issues causing the increased pigmentation to have ceased. A very common mistake when treating Melasma is opting to wait until the hormonal issues have cleared but by then the pigmentation has set in & treatments will need to become more aggressive.

 

Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation – this is a type of pigmentation caused by an injury to the skin. Very often this can be from an overly aggressive laser or chemical peel treatment; hence our insistence on understanding your skin type & running a complete skin analysis before beginning a treatment cycle.

Please note this may also be caused by acne or squeezing pimples, so it is always wise to speak to your doctor or therapist if you are suffering from these conditions.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is caused when as your body heals post-injury & it produces excessive melanocytes which increase the production of melanin, especially when exposed to the sun.

To prevent this, it is important to avoid sun exposure post-aesthetic treatments but also to avoid overly excessive treatments in the first place.

There are of course other types of pigmentation & therefore different treatment protocols. From solar lentigines to simple uneven pigmentation. We at Dr HAACH can treat it all, so long as we match your pigmentation to your skin type & then to the correct treatment protocol.

It is imperative that you not only work with a doctor or therapist who has a deep understanding of pigmentation types

But also, the treatment tools such that the correct treatment choice for you, your skin & your desired results is made. You can visit Dr HAACH to treat your pigmentation – simply call us to book your appointment to find out more.