There are many causes of unsightly pigmentation. Some are temporary, others permanent. Getting the right diagnosis is key to determining which pigmentation treatment is best for your skin condition.
Causes of Pigmentation
The causes of pigmentation can be broadly divided into the following categories:
- Sun damage: age spots, freckles
- Hormonal: melasma
- Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
- Benign Skin Growths: Seborrheic Warts, Skin Tags, Viral Warts
- Congenital: Naevus of Ota
- Unknown: Hori’s Naevus (ABNOM)
Some of the above pigmentary changes respond well to simple treatments like IPL and peels. Others only respond to treatment with pigment lasers. Occasionally, there may be more than one type of pigmentation present, so a mixture of treatments will be required.
Chemical Peels strip off the superficial skin surface. As the abnormal pigment cells are frequently superficial, they can be exfoliated off in this manner. Chemical peels work well for reducing PIH caused by acne and other skin trauma, plus evens out the skin tone.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is excellent for lightening freckles and age spots caused by sun damage. This treatment can be used to specifically target the melanin in pigmentation, so normal skin is spared. However, IPL devices are not strong enough to penetrate deep into the skin, so deeper pigmentation does not respond to IPL. With each successful treatment, the pigmented spots get darker, then fall off.
Cautery is used to burn off pigmented skin growths such a seborrheic warts, skin tags and viral warts. These are thick clumps of abnormal tissue, so debulking is the most efficient means of removal. Although the skin will take time to heal, the difference is immediately visible. The thick dark plaques commonly seen in the elderly can be removed quickly and painlessly.
Melasma, a genetic condition affecting women, deserves a special mention. It can be resistant to traditional pigmentation treatment. In fact, it can sometimes rebound with worsening colour and a deposition of pigment deeper into the skin after laser therapy. Melasma responds well to Estelan Depigmenting Treatment and RF Soft Plasma Peeling.
At Simply Aesthetic, we only offer non-laser pigmentation treatments, so we are able to treat all forms of pigmentation except Naevus of Ota and Hori’s Naevus.