Have you ever heard of melasma? Most people have not, even if they happen to have it on their face.
Melasma is a chronic skin condition in which people (usually women) have abnormal dark brown or tan blotchy pigmentation on the face.
This can develop during pregnancy (the so-called “mask of pregnancy”) because of hormonal swings in the body. Unfortunately, it often fails to resolve after delivery and becomes a cosmetic nuisance.
Most patients will have large blotches on the cheeks or forehead, but occasionally thinner patches of pigmentation will show over the eyebrows or upper lip.
Melasma can be a real bugaboo to treat, and most of the time we manage rather than cure it. We instruct patients to diligently use sunscreen every day, even in the winter. Unprotected sun exposure causes the abnormal pigmentation to darken significantly. A topical skin lightening medication called hydroquinone can help in fading the blotches. We like the Obagi Medical skin care system for this purpose.
New Advances in Laser Treatment
We have experienced varying degrees of success in using laser to treat melasma over the years. Laser applications which treat superficial pigmentation due to sun damage tend not to work as well when the pigment is deeper as in melasma.
Recently though, we have begun using our new tattoo removal laser (Enlighten) to go after this very stubborn pigmentation. This laser has the ability to deliver energy pulses very quickly (750 trillionths of a second) which allows it to break down very fine pigmentation so that the body can absorb it. We use this to our advantage in tattoo removal, but it seems to help in this challenging situation as well.
Please give us a call at (360) 823-0860 if you would like us to evaluate your skin and give you some treatment options!