With summer long gone, many of us are well aware of the effects the summer sun had on our skin – freckles, dark patches, and uneven skin tone. No matter what you call it, in the aesthetic world these are all pigmentation issues and depending on the severity can be very difficult to address.
Some of us have been pigmenting since we were littles – yes those freckles are so cute but did you know that they are a result of uv damage? Some of us notice an increase in pigmentation or dark patches with hormonal changes – after starting birth control pills or pregnancy can be a trigger for these issues. And yet the remainder of us will see some sort of pigmentation changes as we age – the years of sun exposure finally showing on our faces. Whatever your “brand” of pigmentation issue, the team at AM has you covered.
Melasma – by far the most difficult pigmentation issue to treat, due to it’s depth in the skin. Melasma is characterized by larger patches of brown, tan or even grayish looking skin that can often appear in a butterfly pattern on the cheeks, on the forehead or on the upper lip. Melasma can be triggered by hormones changes, and is often exacerbated by heat, sun, or other stimuli.
If you have melasma and are serious about treatment, it will require some time and a daily commitment to medical grade products including prescription strength hydroquinone and retinol, such as ZO Medical’s Melamin or Melamin-C and Melamix. In-office procedures need to be recommended and performed with care. Deeper peels seem to have the best effects on melasma. Laser treatments are often recommended but sometimes the light can trigger worsening of pigmentation. Your provider should have experience treating this type of skin and do a thorough skin and health history before performing any type of procedure on your skin.
Sun Damage Hyperpigmentation – also called age spots or freckles, this type of pigmentation is more superficial, with small dark spots discoloring the surface of the skin. This can range from mild to severe, and would be treated similarly to melasma with prescription strength hydroquinone and retinol. Lasers and lights can be helpful depending on the severity of damage, and peels, such as the ZO 3 Step Peel, are an excellent way to minimize hyper pigmentation. Using a vitamin C product is also fantastic for sun-damage prone individuals as it can repair and prevent future damage. ZO Skin Health’s C-Bright is fantastic formulation for our spotty friends. Consistency is key, and like melasma patients a certain degree of maintenance will always be needed to keep your results for years to come.
Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation – Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is remaining darkness or redness left behind after an injury to the skin and can happen with acne breakouts, certain aesthetic treatments and cuts or scrapes. Anyone can be prone to hyper pigmentation but we often see it in those with medium to darker skin tones. Using a skin brightener and retinol all year-round can be an excellent preventative measure for those prone to PIH, ZO Brightenex is a combination brightener with retinol that can help minimize existing PIH, and Aknebright spot treatment works wonders on acne breakouts, preventing dark spots and minimizing inflammation. Regular mild peels such as the ZO Stimulator Peel or SkinMedica’s Vitalize Peels can be helpful at minimizing regular breakouts and help to break up any residual pigment.
Uneven Skin Tone – while all of our above issues are some form of uneven skin tone, this section is for those that have darker skin commonly found along the hairline or on the forehead, under the eyes, or some even have darkening on the neck. For those needing a little less aggressive of a blending, we love Brightalive from ZO Skin Health. This lotion brightens without retinol (although you could use one for additional blending benefits) and is very gentle. This is a great option for pregnant women and can also be used by any of our pigment-prone patients during a maintenance phase. As for in-office treatments, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) or mild peels are wonderful for treating uneven skin tone.
Not sure what your type of pigment is? Schedule a visit with your AM aesthetician to decipher your type and get your personalized pigment prescription!