Melasma Causes & Treatment
What is Melasma
Melasma is a very common patchy brown, tan, or blur-grey facial skin discolouration, usually seen in women in the reproductive years.
It generally forms on the forehead, upper cheeks, upper lip, and chin of women who are between 20 to 50 years old. Factors such as exposure to sunlight, intake of birth control pills and similar external hormones, and internal hormonal changes such as those caused by pregnancy. People suffering from melasma are usually found to have a history of constant exposure to sunlight, while heat is also believed to be responsible for the condition. Melasma is most prevalent among pregnant women, particularly from Latin and Asian descent. It has been observed in relatively higher ratios in people with olive complexion, or darker skin - Hispanic, Asian, and Middle Eastern natives and ancestry.
What Causes Melasma?
Although the specific cause of melasma is yet to be conclusively determined, medical experts opine that several factors - pregnancy, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, family history of melasma, and race, could be the conditions favoring the manifestation of melasma, particularly in persons with a tendency for this condition.
Melasma occurring during pregnancy, is also known as chloasma. During pregnancy, women in their second and third semesters, experience a rise in levels of hormones such as oestrogen, progesterone, and melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH). Melanocytes, as many of us are aware, are the cells responsible for skin pigmentation. However, in the case of pregnancy-related melasma, increased levels of progesterone are believed to be the cause, and not oestrogen or MSH. Some studies have also established the link between increased incidence of melasma and progesterone therapy, in post-menopausal women.
Moreover, some products or treatments that cause skin irritation the skin, are known to result in increased melanin production, and thus increase melasma symptoms.
Similarly, persons having a genetic predisposition or family history of melasma are potentially more vulnerable the possibility of developing melasma. Such people must avoid exposure to sunlight, and step outdoors only after applying extra sunblock to prevent stimulation of pigment production.
Treatment for Melasma
Two types of patients are prone to suffer from Melasma;
1) Women who develop Melasma as a result of hormonal changes due to pregnancy or the use of birth control pills. For these individuals, the melasma condition will gradually subside after delivery, or once they stop using birth-control pills.
2) Individuals who are afflicted with long-term or permanentMelasma, following exposure UV rays and other factors.
While there are several treatment options available in the market, to reduce or eliminate these patches, not all treatments are uniformly effective for everyone. There are also instances where recurrence of melasma, may take place even after treatment concludes succesfully. Dr Thean is renowned for his long years of aesthetics experience in the field of pigmentation. He has specially designed this treatment that illuminates dark spots, using a range of lasercombinations, including the yellow laser. This method effortlessly treats the vast majority of undesirable skin spots. The treatment is also effective for addressing discoloration or redness, caused by blood vessels that are located amid the deeper network of veins, far beyond the usual depths that conventional lasers are able to access. Since pigmentations form in different levels of intensity, we offer a range of bespoke Melasma treatments in Singapore, with Dr Thean himself devising the combination of treatments best suited to treat your dark spots.
Frequently Asked Questions - Melasma
Q: How many treatment sessions are required to remove Melasma?
A: The results vary as it depends on the size, density of melanin and depth of the affected area. Typically, melasma will lighten after 1-2 treatments although in some cases more treatments may be necessary.
Q: Is the treatment painful?
A: The treatment procedure is comfortable and bearable. No topical numbing is required usually. After the treatment, there is a mild sensation of heat on the skin which may cause some redness which will subside in a few hours.
Q: Will melasma come back?
Melasma is typically characterized by having up and down periods where the symptoms heighten and lessen. While the laser light can help lighten or completely rid of the pigmentation factors such as sun exposure, hormones and your genetic disposition can play a role in a recurrence.
What happens after treatment?
After the treatment, you may feel slight redness which will subside after a few hours. The treated area will slowly lighten over the next few days to weeks as the pigmented area is gradually absorbed into the skin by your body's natural healing process. In some cases, the pigment may darken before becoming lighter.
Options to Treat Melasma
Dr Kenneth Thean