An Effective Option for Melasma
Frequently, women present to our clinic with melasma. Patches of dark pigmentation that often present symmetrically on the cheeks, upper lip and/or forehead characterize melasma. Excessive melanin production is stimulated by excessive sun exposure, heat or hormonal changes. The onset of melasma is often associated with hormonal shifts such as use of birth control pills, pregnancy or menopause.
Worsening of melasma can occur with overstimulation of melanocytes. Excessive sun exposure is the most common cause. Some patients who seek treatment with some laser treatment, chemical peel or waxing find that they have increased pigmentation after these procedures. Physical exposure to heat is reported to play a role in worsening symptoms as well. Women who report avoiding sun exposure but are exposed to environmental heat such that found in the workplace present with worsening melasma.
At this year's American Society of Laser Medicine & Science, many experts discussed their success with laser toning. Laser toning utilizes a 1064-nm wavelength laser that targets the melanin in the cells and breaks it up gradually. Multiple passes are required to target the amount of pigment in the tissue. Laser toning reduces the appearance of melasma and evens out skin tone without downtime. Patients will experience heating of the skin with light, prickly, snapping sensation. It is a comfortable procedure and is safe for most skin types.
Long-lasting results are obtained with multiple treatments. Patients need to be informed that improvement is gradual. The number of treatments needed depends on the severity of their condition.
Laser toning does provide long-lasting results but cannot be claimed as a cure for melasma. A tailored skin care regimen, sun protection and minimizing heat exposure are essential factors leading to the success of treatment and maintenance of results.