Table of Contents
- 1 Identifying Melasma
- 2 What Causes Melasma?
- 3 Popular Laser Solutions for Melasma
- 4 Laser Equipment for Melasma/ Pigmentation Treatments
- 5 How Do I Choose Which Laser is Best for My Skin Pigmentation?
Melasma has the reputation of being a harmless yet stubborn skin problem.
Despite treatment, this pigmentation disorder can trouble us repeatedly. Left untreated, it can turn into a cosmetic and sociological nightmare. Effective treatment for melasma, hyperpigmentation, solar lentigo, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, age spots and liver spots, are available. All it takes is a combination of proper consultation, accurate diagnosis, appropriate treatment, and an experienced doctor. Instead of choosing the popular laser treatment, which may or may not be suitable for you, speak to an experienced medical practitioner to learn about your condition and how you can treat it effectively.
Melasma is also known as the ‘mask of pregnancy’ or chloasma because of its prevalence in pregnant women. Melasma basically means “black spot.” The skin disease is characterised by the appearance of light to dark brown, and sometimes blue to grey patches on the skin. They generally appear as flat patches or resemble large freckles.
While melasma usually develops on six areas of the body. However, it is the face that is mostly affected, with dark patches appearing on areas such as the cheeks, upper lip and forehead. The forearms are another prime area for melasma afflictions. However, it can also appear on the neck area for people in their 50s. The affected skin area tends to darken and lighten with the passage of time. Also known as chloasma, the condition can worsen especially in Singapore’s tropical climate.
What Causes Melasma?
The common villains in the case of melasma, happen to be radiation, and hormonal imbalances usually during pregnancy and after childbirth. Radiation occurs in the form of ultraviolet (UV), visible light, or infrared light, that is generally caused by exposure to sunlight.
The other possible factors behind melasma, include medications such as oral contraceptive pills loaded with estrogen and progesterone, hypothyroidism, and phototoxic drugs which induce sensitivity to sunlight.
Even LED screens, such as TV, computer, laptop, tablet, and cell phone screens, are potential triggers for the condition. So, it’s advisable to avoid long-drawn sessions in front of the TV or laptop, or even with certain kinds of cosmetics.
- It occurs on the top layer of the skin. (epidermis)
- Patches are dark brown with well-defined borders .
- It is quite responsive to treatment.
- It occurs in the second deeper layer of the skin known as the dermis.
- Patches are light brown or bluish in hue, with borders that are fuzzy.
- Requires a multi-modal approach treatment.
- It can be found on both epidermis and dermis layer of the skin.
- Patches are a combination of brown and blue.
- It is relatively responsive to treatment.
Popular Laser Solutions for Melasma
Truth be told, there isn't the best laser treatment for pigmentation.
Considering the stubborn nature of the skin problem, light-based procedures are recommended for safe, reliable and convenient treatment. Depending upon factors such as extent, depth, age, gender, and causes of pigmentation, non-ablative fractionated lasers, or low fluence Q-switched lasers, are most commonly used in treatment.
While laser treatment for hyperpigmentation has been acknowledged as an effective solution for skin pigmentation problems, especially melasma, several queries arise in people’s minds. The most common questions asked would be what is the best laser for pigmentation and melasma? To find out which laser is the best, let’s take a quick tour of laser land.
Laser Equipment for Melasma/ Pigmentation Treatments
1. Q switched Nd:YAG Laser
Q switched Nd:YAG Laser is an effective and safe mode of laser treatment of hyperpigmentation. Operating at wavelengths of 532nm and 1064nm, Q switched Nd:YAG Laser can treat pigmentation at the superficial levels and the deepest permissible levels below the skin surface. Moreover, the laser is specifically designed for uniform distribution of the laser beam in order to achieve optimal results. Because of its uniform beam pattern, there is a substantial reduction in occurrence of side effects such as hyperpigmentation. The procedures are quick, and with zero to minimal downtime. As a result, it can be done during your afternoon lunch break.
2. Picosecond Q-switched Nd: YAG or Alexandrite Laser
Picosecond Nd: YAG or Alexandrite laser operates at 1064nm & 532nm frequencies. Not only is its ultra-short pulse more effective in lightening pigmentations, the pico laser is also comfortable and has minimal to no downtime. This means that you can undergo this treatment and return to your daily activities easily. Since this laser is equipped with the largest spot size, treatment is faster leading to shorter downtimes.
3. Picosure 755nm Ultra-short Picosecond Laser
Picosure is a pigment-seeking lasers that is also effective in handling sun spots, fine lines, and uneven skin tone and texture . This procedure uses ultra-short laser pulses, each lasting one trillionth of a second, to target skin’s sub-layers to create minuscule cavities in the target area, and lay the ground for skin regeneration. One of the popular procedures is that it operates on 755nm wavelength, which has a better absorption when it comes to dealing with pigments. It is relatively comfortable and provides results without damaging the superficial layers of the skin. It is effective in treating pigmentations on the face, chest, back, hands, and legs.
4. Pro Yellow Laser
An effective way to handle obstinate pigmentation issues, this procedure involves the use of wavelength (577nm) lasers that offer the best absorption while treating spots, pigmentation, and blood vessels. As opposed to the 532nm wavelength of green lasers, yellow laser wavelength produces a 40% greater absorption in the blood. With yellow laser treatment requiring far less power to function, it delivers several distinct advantages. including:
- Substantially reduces the risk of side effects, like burns or altered pigmentation.
- The technology is capable of treating vascular lesions at much lower power.
- Suitable for treating both, light and darker skin types.
- Delivering fractional laser scanning for rejuvenation on I to V skin types
- Effectively treating patients suffering from both, epidermal melasma and VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor) simultaneously.
- Its wide effectivity range allows safe treatment of pigmented lesions in skin type from I to V
5. FOTONA Laser
Operating two complementary laser wavelengths, this versatile device has wide-ranging applications in hyperpigmentation conditions, including melasma treatment. Essentially, the FOTONA laser bypasses the skin surface harmlessly, penetrates the dermis layer, and generates thermal energy to break up the melanin pigments into smaller particles and in which the body expels naturally. Fotona laser is well tolerated by the skin so it is suitable for all skin types.
Fotona's Nd:YAG wavelength device uses thermal energy to effectively reach the dermis layer of the skin to help shatter the pigments into pieces without harming the skin. The shattered pigments are flushed out of our bodies naturally. At the same time, this non-invasive laser treatment for pigmentation also facilitates collagen synthesis that helps to improve the appearance of fine lines and pores.
Fotona's Er:YAG wavelength device is ideal for brushing away surface-level imperfections and regenerating new skin cells. Water in the skin cells selectively absorbs this laser wavelength, leading to collagen production. Due to the precise action that allows layer-wise ablation at the micronic level, treatment with this laser brings about a significant lightening of the pigmentation. This treatment also helps smoothening and firm the skin.
How Do I Choose Which Laser is Best for My Skin Pigmentation?
With the complexity of treating melasma, there isn't a best laser treatment for melasma or pigmentation. It requires a combination of different technologies, devices, and medical expertise to address these conditions effectively. At Ensoul Medical Clinic, the doctors will painstakingly study each patient’s skin condition and prescribe the appropriate treatment regimen by synergizing a combination of treatments suitable for their patients. This customized approach to treatment sets the tone for repairing damaged skin and lighten melasma at Ensoul Medical Clinic.
Taking that leap of faith – to skin that’s alive and young again
Following a detailed assessment and consultation with an experienced aesthetic physician, you are finally ready to take the plunge.
You are now ready for the journey to regain healthy-looking skin.
What Happens During a Laser Pigmentation Removal Procedure?
1. Cleansing of targeted treatment area.
2. The doctor will provide you with a pair of protective eyewear or goggles during the treatment.
3. The doctor will customize 4-5 different types of lasers depending on your pigmentation and melasma conditions. The treatment sessions usually last around 15 minutes at a time.
4. Light and medium cases of melasma are treated with non-ablative laser. Hence, patients experience zero to minimal discomfort during their treatments. For non-ablative laser treatment, some patients would have some redness and should subside in half an hour or so. This setting for laser is as good as what they call “the lunch time treatment.”
What Happens to Your Skin and What You Need to Do after a Laser Pigmentation Treatment?
1. The laser treatment creates small reservoirs on the skin. So, making it the best time to deliver the essential vitamins to maximise overall rejuvenation.
2. After laser treatment, the pigmentation acts by using the body’s lymphatic system to flush out the pigment in the skin surface. It could take between 4-6 weeks for the body to process the broken pigmentation.
3. Use a gentle cleanser and water-based moisturizer
4. Avoid exposing the treatment area to sunlight. Apply sunblock with SPF 30 or above before venturing out.
5. Take utmost care of the treated areas and follow precautions faithfully. If we’re careless about precautions – pre and post treatment - most skin pigmentation issues will definitely return to haunt us.