Table of Contents
- 1 What is Pigmentation?
- 2 What are the Pigmentation Treatments Available ?
- 3 5 Reasons Why Your Pigmentation Treatment Is Not Working?
Having dark spots or pigmentation on the skin can be frustrating; they make us want to treat them immediately, especially if it’s on our face. We don’t think twice about spending money or time availing of the best pigmentation reduction treatments. There are a wide variety of treatments, ranging from medical skin peels to lasers, and non-invasive procedures, for treating the different types of pigmentation conditions you face from time to time. However, quite often, the results of pigmentation treatments may not match your expectations. Apart from dissatisfaction, patients feel disappointed and often lose self-confidence when their pigmentation treatments fail to reduce the dark spots substantially.
What is Pigmentation?
Before we dive down to why your pigmentation treatment is not working, it’s important to know why your skin gets pigmentation. Pigmentation develops when the body produces excess melanin in response to stimuli or trauma. For example, exposure to sunlight (UV rays), hormonal inconsistencies, pollution, or reaction to certain medications, and of course, ageing too.
While pigmentation develops in several forms, some of the most common skin conditions include freckles, melasma, solar lentigo, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). These are the most commonly seen skin complaints in this category. Some patients may even have a mixture of epidermal and dermal pigmentation on the skin. While there are many treatments available, lasers are among the most popular and effective non-invasive treatment modalities used for treating these conditions.
What are the Pigmentation Treatments Available ?
When we find that remedies like creams and lotions aren’t really helping, many of us opt for medical treatments such as chemical peels or non-invasive procedures such as lasers or radiofrequency microneedling. Pigmentation removal treatments generally work by targeting the spots with lasers, speeding up the regeneration of skin cells or exfoliation. The procedure essentially works by resurfacing the skin surface, stimulating collagen stimulation, and the formation of new skin cells. A combination of different lasers and wavelengths is prescribed for each of these conditions.
5 Reasons Why Your Pigmentation Treatment Is Not Working?
Depending upon the type of pigmentation disorder, skin condition, the extent of the skin disease, age, gender, genetics and other factors, a variety of treatments options are used for lightening pigmentation. But when treatment does not give satisfactory results, the alarm bells start ringing. Learn more about why your pigmentation treatment does not work and what you can do to achieve the best optimal results for your skin.
1. Inaccurate Diagnosis
Skin pigmentation can manifest in so many forms – melasma, sun spots, freckles, Hori’s Nevus…etc, most of these conditions share some common symptoms, which makes it a challenging task to distinguish one from the others. On the other hand, each skin pigmentation condition calls for an appropriate treatment regimen to be prescribed. Even the slightest error in diagnosing the condition can prescribe the wrong treatment. Using the wrong chemical peels, laser types, or settings can result in improper treatment that will not cure your pigmentation condition or, worse, aggravate the condition. So, an accurate diagnosis of your pigmentation disorder is crucial for ensuring effective and appropriate treatment. Consult a good doctor who has the certification and the experience too.
Lasers can indeed treat pigmentation issues. It’s also true that there are a variety of different lasers, each one suitable for treating certain specific skin conditions. Certain lasers may not be ideal for conditions such as melasma as they might cause the disease to worsen or make it more complex to treat. That’s why using the correct laser or the right combination of lasers and the appropriate wavelength are equally important for successfully treating any pigmentation problem.
3. The frequency between treatments
Skin pigmentation treatments usually need some time to take effect. In the case of laser treatments apart, you need to undergo a sufficient number of sessions in the initial stages of the treatment at regular intervals or frequency. The doctor decides the frequency of sessions after analysing the factors such as your skin condition, age, and extent of treatment required. Too long a gap between treatment sessions can negate the impact of treatment and leave you feeling disappointed. As your doctor will explain, initially, the sessions have to be spaced at relatively small gaps of 1-2 weeks or so. This approach ensures that the benefits of laser treatment sessions are sustained.
4. Underlying Skin Ageing & Sun Damage
While treatments help remove existing pigmentation, the underlying pigment cells may be hyperactive, and therefore continue to produce excess melanin. Usually, genetic makeup plays a role in such cases. With increased production effectively overtaking the reduced pigmentation, there may not be much improvement in the overall situation after you undergo pigmentation treatment. In such situations, a multimodal approach would be required to tackle the hyperactive nature of the pigment cells. Additional treatment options include pulsed RF microneedling, topical medical-grade creams such as cysteamine or hydroquinone.
5. Inadequate Sun Protection
Particularly in hot and sunny climates such as Singapore and neighbouring countries, neglecting to apply suitably strong sun protection cream can worsen pigmentation conditions. Especially, if you have undergone a skin pigmentation treatment recently, it’s crucial to protect your skin from sun exposure by applying sunscreen cream with SPF ranging between 30 and 50. Make sure to apply sunscreen whenever you step outdoors into the sun. Also, replenish the sunscreen cream after every few hours in the sun. This way, you can prevent re-activation of the melanin-production process following treatment. You could also try oral supplements such as colourless carotenoids, and topical application of vitamin c serums can prevent the pigmentation from flaring up again.
Avoiding the pitfalls of skin pigmentation treatments is easy when you know how things work or don’t. Getting the right advice and the appropriate treatment will not only help you treat a host of skin conditions like freckles, melasma, and PIH, but it will also save you time, cost and inconvenience. Consult a certified practitioner, but ensure that training is backed by years of experience and credentials.