Skin pigmentation, or melasma (muh-LAZ-muh) is a common skin problem. It causes brown to gray-brown patches, usually on the face. While most people get it on their cheeks, bridge of their nose, forehead, chin, and above their upper lip, it also can appear on other parts of the body that get lots of sun, such as the forearms and neck.
The treatment involves four stages:
Daily sunscreen applications — Use the highest protection factor every morning. I can dispense a sunscreen to you.
Bleach – Apply a prescription drug to the dark areas each morning after washing your face. (Then apply the sunscreen, then make-up)
Topical Retinoid (i.e. RetinA or Tazorac) – These creams not only help smooth wrinkles, but help lighten abnormally dark areas. An instruction sheet will also be provided for nightly use.
Light chemical peels – A very mild acid is applied each visit. This causes a light flaking or peeling after a few days. There may be very slight stinging. Your face may be a little bit red when you leave, but you can apply make-up. Generally swelling is minimal and moisturizer can mask peeling. Peels are done every 3-4 weeks until a good result is achieved (usually 2-3 months), and then performed as needed. During the winter, most patients do not need peels, they simply use the sunscreen, RetinA and bleach, while during the summer, they will need more peels to treat recurrences of the pigment.
A heavier peel can achieve results quickly. However, this may cause slight swelling and redness for about a week. The goal of a peel is to make the bleaches and retinoid work better. Heavy peeling may actually worsen the condition. Some patients may also choose to add Dermapeel/Micro derma peel to the treatment regimen. This gently scrapes the top layers of the skin. You can wear make-up immediately after a dermapeel. There is no “down time”.
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If you have pigmentation, schedule an appointment with Dr. Ginsburg to learn more about treatment options. Fill out the form below, or call us at (205) 592-4880