Melasma is a form of hyperpigmentation that is very common among Asians and it
typically affects women. One will notice brown or grayish-brown blotches, and it usually appears on the forehead, chin, cheeks, upper lip, or nose.
Melasma is a word formed from Greek word “melas”, which means black, and it’s also known as chloasma, or the “mask of pregnancy”. Though, this condition affect mostly women, men can get it too.
This article will discuss if Melasma can fade off on its own, or whether aesthetic treatments are needed to reduce it.
Symptoms of melasma
First, it is always important to understand the symptoms. Melasma are patches of discoloration and are darker than usual skin colour. If other areas of the body are often exposed to sun, melasma can also develop.
Rest assured that Melasma doesn’t do any physical harm, but it may affect one’s self confidence and self-esteem.
Types of Melasma
There are 3 main types of Melasma: epidermal, dermal and mixed.
- Epidermal type – excess melanin taken up by keratinocytes in the superficial layers of skin.
- Dermal melasma – 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, research has shown 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
Can Melasma go Away on its own?
Melasma is different from scars. Pigmented scars may lighten over time as the skin renews, but untreated Melasma can progress to become bigger darker patches.
The 3 main causes of Melasma are genetics, hormonal changes and exposure to UV rays. That being said, there is no permanent cure for melasma but with melasma treatment, these pigmented patches can be lightened and held at bay.
Once the symptoms are known, it is best to seek professional help from a dermatologist or an aesthetic doctor.
At M-Aesthetic Clinic, we offer the full range of Melasma and pigmentation removal treatments with proven effective results.
Treating Melasma in Singapore
Before starting any treatments, Dr Ho Rui Ming will first assess your skin condition, determine the type of Melasma, understand your lifestyle habits and then he will personalise a treatment plan.
The treatment plan usually consists of laser treatments, oral medication, supplements and skincare. He believes that the best and most effective way to tackle Melasma is by treating it from a combination of different pathways.
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 almost pain-free.
Combination of different lasers for melasma and pigmentation
Developments and advancements 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.
How long must one go through this treatment plan?
Depending on the severity of the pigmentation, the number of sessions may vary from 5 sessions of laser treatment depending on the extent and severity of the pigment condition, with a gap of 2-3 weeks in between these laser pigmentation treatment sessions.
During the consultation, Dr Ho will meticulously examine and assess your skin condition to determine the best treatment plan
Tips to prevent Melasma from worsening.
- Use sunscreen everyday – Remember to apply sunscreen (min SPF30) everyday. Repeat application every 2 -3 hours if possible.
- Avoid direct strong sun exposure as much as possible. Avoid direct sun exposure, especially in the middle of the day. Wear wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses if you need to be outdoors. Do 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.
Melasma is a common problem that is treatable. Apart from diligently following the treatment plan, you must also be patient as results take a while. It is not advisable to ignore Melasma, thinking that it will disappear on its own as it may worsen, darken and become bigger patches.
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!