Sunspots, melasma, big brown patches — whatever the cause is, it can be treated with medical laser treatments, performed by an experienced medical professional.
In this article, we give you a background on how long it takes to effectively remove pigmentation.
Types of pigmentation
But first, let’s understand the various types of pigmentation conditions. It can be classified into 3 main classifications – Epidermal, Dermal & a mix of both. The diagram below illustrates the layers of the human skin.
Symptoms of melasma
Melasma is manifested as patches of discolouration and is darker than usual skin colour. Common areas affected are usually on the face and it may be symmetrical on both sides of the face. Other areas of the body which are often exposed to the sun, can also develop melasma.
Melasma typically appears on the:
- bridge of the nose
It can also develop on the neck and forearms. Untreated Melasma can become more severe and progress to become bigger patches.
Types of Melasma?
There are 3 types of Melasma: epidermal, dermal and mixed
- The epidermal type is identified by the presence of excess melanin only in the superficial layers of the skin.
- Dermal melasma is distinguished by the presence of melanophages (cells that ingest melanin) throughout the dermis.
- The mixed type includes both the epidermal and dermal type.
Causes and risk factors of melasma
There is no clear evidence on what exactly causes melasma but there is a strong genetic predisposition in those affected by Melasma.
Other causes/ triggers include:
- Estrogen and progesterone sensitivity are also associated with Melasma
- Hormonal treatment: Birth control pills that contain Estrogen and Progesterone, Hormone treatments
- Exposure to UV rays / Sun
- Thyroid disease: Hypothyroidism
Here are some tips to prevent Melasma from becoming more severe.
1. Use sunscreen. It’s important to apply sunscreen (min SPF 30) everyday.
2. Avoid sun/UV exposure. Try to avoid direct strong sun exposure, especially in the middle of the day. Also, avoid saunas and steam rooms, as excessive heat can also worsen melasma.
3. Topical lightening products. Products containing ingredients such as kojic acid and glycolic acid may be used during pregnancy—but best to check with your doctor. It helps minimize the intensity and severity of Melasma by inhibiting pigment production.
4. Avoid traditional skin-bleaching and lightening creams. Products containing hydroquinone, retinoids, and steroids are a big no-no during pregnancy.
How to treat Melasma?
Thankfully, we have the full range of Melasma treatment options available in our Singapore Clinic.
At M-Aesthetic Clinic, Dr Ho Rui Ming with years of experience has an effective Melasma treatment programme. He believes that a combination of different treatments that target the different pathways of pigmentation production can help to effectively treat/ reduce Melasma.
1. Proprietary whitening creams
The Ultra Whitening Complex is an intense proprietary-only whitening cream that combines multiple, effective proven whitening ingredients to treat pigmentation.
2. Oral tablets
Certain oral medications target pathways in pigmentation formation and helps to lighten different pigmentation conditions.
A well-known supplement that is proven to help to reduce pigmentation is Heliocare Max 240 Purewhite Radiance.
Containing an additional dose of Fernblock®, it has an excellent antioxidant property that is able to reduce free radicals by up to 50%, preventing the formation of hyperpigmentation caused by UV rays.
A recent study conducted in National Skin Centre, Singapore, showed a 62% improvement in melasma when compared to baseline in just 12 weeks.
Furthermore, Purewhite Radiance Max 240 is enhanced with the exclusive blend of White Tech Complex where it controls and blocks the main enzyme that is responsible for melanin production. The blend in White Tech Complex consists of Pomegranate extract, L-Cystine, vitamin C and B3, all clinically proven to promote skin fairness and radiance
Combination of different lasers for melasma and pigmentation
Developments and advancement in technology have introduced more options for non-surgical procedures especially in Laser Treatments. Apart from being very effective, these laser procedures often require no to almost minimal downtime and are quick and pain-free.
Spectra XT Laser
The popular laser treatment, which has no downtime, is the Spectra XT Laser or also known as the “Hollywood Peel”. This is a one of a kind photo-enhancer based laser treatment that is performed only using the Spectra XT ™ laser.
The procedure is safe on all skin types and is a fantastic way to brighten up your skin without the longer downtimes associated with other procedures!
It uses no harsh formulas or abrasive scrubbing tools, which means no bleeding and adverse chemical reactions; yet promises the instant effects one would expect from a professional face peel.
The Spectra XT Laser session takes about 30 minutes. The Spectra carbon lotion is applied to the skin first and the laser heats the carbon lotion to penetrate into the pores for a deep exfoliation. Then, the laser removes the carbon. With it comes dead skin cells and anything that was clogging the pores, leaving your skin clear, bright and toned.
What kind of improvement can I expect to see with this treatment?
- Improves melasma and other signs of sun damage
- Treats pigmentation
- Improves skin tone, texture and elasticity
- Brightens and tightens skin for a natural, well-rested look
- Reduces all types of acne
- Controls sebum production
- Reduces redness from inflamed acne
For best results, subsequent sessions of the Spectra XT Laser are needed.
Thulium BB Laser
The Thulium BB Laser is a stronger laser treatment that effectively targets facial pigmentation, Melasma, brightens the skin and improves size of pores. In South Korea, many call it the BB Laser because of its ability to improve the texture and tone of the skin, just like when applying BB cream to the skin.
Thulium BB Laser is a unique sub-ablative thulium 1927nm laser for skin resurfacing and rejuvenating. The laser’s wavelength penetrates to a level between the lower part of the epidermis and dermis where it is able to target freckles, sunspots, age spots and Melasma while renewing damaged skin and stimulating collagen production.
The wavelength penetrates the upper dermis while not causing the upper layer to peel.
What kind of improvement can I expect to see with this treatment?
- Improvement in pigmentation & Melasma
- Skin brightening/ Fairer skin
- Smoother, younger looking skin
- Pore tightening
- Overall improvement in skin texture and tone
- Improvement in fine wrinkles
Thulium BB Laser can be combined with Spectra XT Laser to successfully reduce appearance of Melasma.
Duration needed to see results
Sadly, pigmentation usually does not go away or lighten significantly in just 1-2 sessions.
There are factors that affect the duration to see results:
- Skin condition/ individual skin cell response – some skin may take a longer duration to see results due to differences in response of each individual’s skin cells
- Pigmentation Type and severity – More severe pigmentation will need longer duration for results
- Ability to follow through with the treatment plan – If you quit halfway, the pigmentation will not be treated 100%, bringing you back to the original state
- Lifestyle habits – Application of sunblock, staying away from the direct sun exposure, wearing a hat when heading out in strong sunlight will help to ensure your skin is constantly protected from the harmful UV rays.
We have come up with a summary of the type of pigmentation and the approximate number of sessions needed to effectively remove the pigmentation.
|Dermal pigmentation & Mixture
|Spectra XT Laser||5 sessions||10 sessions|
|Thulium BB Laser||3 sessions||6 sessions|
|Estimated Duration of Time for the combined treatments of Thulium BB Laser & Spectra XT||5 months||6-8 months|
At M-Aesthetic Clinic, Dr Ho Rui Ming will do a skin assessment to identify the kind of pigmentation you have, and recommend a suitable pigmentation removal treatment.
How to increase the effectiveness of the treatment?
For effective results, patience is required and you have to be committed to the programme. Apart from receiving laser treatments, a daily skin regime that includes applying sunblock and whitening cream is also important. Wear a hat or bring an umbrella whenever you head out to minimise exposure from harmful UV rays.
After completing the series of treatments and if you subsequently do not take care of your skin, new pigmentation can appear over time. Hence, it is very important to maintain a good regime to prevent new pigmentation from forming.
We recommend a religious daily usage of sunscreen for both short and long-term treatment of skin pigmentation. If possible, avoid prolonged sun exposure. Whenever you need to step out, reapply your sun block and a cap or a hat to reduce sun damage.
To keep pigmentation at bay, we also recommend a monthly or bi-monthly session of the Hollywood Peel Laser and in combination with the Thulium BB Laser for even better results.
Pigmentation may be a nuisance, but with patience and determination, it can be treated.
Dr Ho believes that every individual is unique and he takes into account their lifestyle habits, budget, condition and severity of the pigmentation. He then plans a suitable treatment plan for each individual, tracks and records the process for best results.
Should you wish to treat your pigmentation, contact us right away and schedule an appointment now with Dr Ho Rui Ming so that he can come up with the most suitable and effective plan for you!