Melasma which is a common pigmentary problem typically affects Asian women and usually present in brown or greyish-brown blotches, typically on the forehead, chin, cheeks, upper lip, or nose.
Melasma originates from the Greek root “melas”, which means black, and it’s also known as chloasma or the “mask of pregnancy”. Though, this condition affects mostly women, men can get it too.
Symptoms of melasma
It is easy to spot symptoms of Melasma. One will see patches of discolouration and these patches are darker than usual skin colour. Common areas in which Melasma usually appear are on the face and it may be symmetrical, with matching marks on both sides of the face. If other areas of the body are often exposed to the sun, melasma can also develop.
However, Melasma doesn’t do any physical harm, but it may affect one’s self-confidence and self-esteem. But untreated Melasma can progress to become bigger, darker patches.
Types of Melasma
Although it looks like the same type, it is important to know that there are 3 main types of Melasma: epidermal, dermal and mixed.
- Epidermal type – identified by the presence of excess melanin taken up by keratinocytes in the superficial layers of skin.
- Dermal melasma – distinguished by the presence of melanin deposited in the deeper dermis and/or ingested by melanophages (cells that ingest melanin) throughout the dermis.
- Mixed type – mixture of both the epidermal and dermal type.
Causes and risk factors of melasma
There is no clear evidence on what causes melasma. However, it is known that darker-skinned individuals are more at risk as compared to fairer skin individuals. Estrogen and progesterone sensitivity are also associated with the condition.
Risk factors are:-
- Birth control pills
- hormone therapy
- Thyroid disease
- Long exposure to sun
- Not wearing sunblock
Solutions to treat Melasma in Singapore
For starters, over-the-counter-creams and skincare with skin-bleaching agents such as hydroquinone can help, but it can only control it at the surface of the skin and it does not help in tackling the root of the problem.
At M-Aesthetic Clinic, Dr Ho Rui Ming, with years of experience has successfully treated many individuals who have Melasma and reduced the appearance with personalised melasma treatment plans
1.Proprietary whitening creams
Creams that are formulated to combat pigmentation, as well as dull complexion, help to control and treat Melasma.
2. Oral tablets
Medication containing Tranexamic acid helps to lighten the dark Melasma pigmentation.
Other lightening supplements include Heliocare Max 240 Purewhite Radiance.
It contains additional dose of Fernblock®, which 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.
There is a recent study conducted in the National Skin Centre, Singapore that reported 62% improvement in melasma was observed 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
3.Combination of different lasers for melasma
Non-surgical procedures such as Laser Treatments help to treat Melasma. Apart from being very effective, these laser procedures often require no to almost minimal downtime and are quick and pain-free.
Spectra XT Laser
Spectra XT Laser, a one of a kind photo-enhancer based laser treatment, is safe on most skin types and is a fantastic way to not only treat Melasma but brighten up your skin without the longer downtimes associated with other procedures!
The Spectra XT Laser is able to penetrate into the deep skin layers to target pigmentation/ Melasma that is situated even in the deep skin layers.
It doesn’t use any harsh formulas or abrasive scrubbing tools, which means no bleeding and adverse chemical reactions; yet promises the instant brightening effects one would expect from a professional face peel.
The Spectra XT Laser session takes about 15-30 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, pigmentation and other signs of sun damage
- 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, several sessions of Spectra XT Laser are needed.
Thulium BB Laser
The Thulium BB Laser is a stronger laser treatment that effectively targets Melasma, pigmentation , brightens & smoothens the skin and improves enlarged 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 Melasma, freckles, sunspots and age spots while renewing damaged skin and stimulating collagen production.
The wavelength penetrates the upper dermis while not causing the upper epidermis 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.
Here are some tips to prevent Melasma from worsening.
- Use sunscreen – It’s important to apply sunscreen (min SPF30) everyday. Repeat application every 2 -3 hours if possible.
- Avoid sun exposure as much as possible. Try to avoid direct sun exposure, especially in the middle of the day. If you have to be outdoors, wear wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses. Also, avoid saunas and steam rooms, as excessive heat may also stimulate pigmentation.
- Lightening products. Products containing ingredients such as azelaic acid and ascorbic acid may be used during pregnancy—but best to check with your doctor. It targets melasma by inhibiting pigment production.
- Avoid traditional skin-bleaching and lightening creams. Products containing hydroquinone, retinoids, and steroids are a big no-no during pregnancy.
At M-Aesthetic Clinic, we have the full range of Pigmentation Treatments which include laser treatments, supplements and medications to treat Melasma.
Dr Ho believes that although every individual is unique and he takes into account on their lifestyle habits, budget, condition and severity of the hyperpigmentation. Based on that, he plans a suitable treatment plan for each individual, tracks and records the process for best results. He also believes that combining different kinds of treatments, supplements and medication can help to better tackle Pigmentation and Melasma for better results.
We are always available should anyone have questions with regards to Pigmentation and Melasma. If you have these symptoms, 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!