Cosmetic Surgery

Skin Pigmentation or Melasma

Melasma, Chloasma, Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation, PIH, Photoaging, Liver Spots, Hyperpigmentation, Age Spots, Sun Spots, Freckles

The differ­ence between freckles and problem pigment­a­tion is:

  • While facial freckles though appear quite cute, larger, darker pigment­a­tion patches don’t;
  • Freckles gener­ally go faint in winters and darken in summer due to exposure to sun; problem pigment­a­tion however does not fade out like freckles, and can be a cause of distress.

You might have noticed these appearing as your skin ages, or if you have had a sun burn. These are common on the face, neck, arms and hands. Facial pigment­a­tion gener­ally occurs secondary to damage to the way the pigment cells in your skin work. This damage is commonly caused by Sun Exposure over time, but can also be caused by Sun Burns, and Hormones.

One of the commonest causes is Melasma, common amongst women who have darker skin types, this condi­tion gener­ally triggered by preg­nancy or condi­tions causing disrup­tion of the normal hormone levels like consump­tion of the Contraceptive Pill. The other common cause of facial pigment­a­tion is PIH or Post Inflammatory Hyper-Pigmentation. This can be brought about by flare-ups of Acne, Eczema or as a side effect of a Chemical Peel or Facial.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the causes of pigmentation on the face?

There are multiple causes of facial pigment­a­tion, the commonest are sun exposure, sun burns, Melasma, PIH. At the bottom of all the pigment­a­tion prob­lems is a change in beha­viour of the Melanocyte (the cell that makes the pigment in our skin). While in a normal skin type which can tan or is coloured, the pigment cell (melano­cyte) can switch on and produce more pigment as a response to sun exposure, which is the process of putting on a Sun Tan, which reacts differ­ently in pigment­a­tion prob­lems. Sun Burns, Excessive Sun Exposure, Hormones of Pregnancy, other Endocrine (Harmonal Problems), Chemical Injury (Chemical exposure or peels), Thermal Injury (Burns or Laser or IPL treat­ments), Mechanical Injury (Trauma, Abrasions, Microdermabrasion, Microneedling) can all cause a damage to the DNA of the pigment cell, causing it to produce pigment all the time, regard­less of sun exposure. This damaged melano­cyte there­fore ends up creating a pigment­a­tion patch.

Does my foundation with +SPF 10 cover me from pigmentation problems?

Unfortunately, makeup with added SPF does not quite protect you in the same fashion as a Sun Screen with SPF 30 or more would.

Can pigmentation be removed?

While most pigment­a­tion can be reduced or faded to a large extent, there might be some residual pigment­a­tion left behind after treat­ment that needs you to continue with special skin care and skin protec­tion routines. This limit­a­tion in pigment removal owes itself to the fact that all the treat­ments designed for pigment­a­tion, reduce the amount of pigment present in the skin, but don’t gener­ally inac­tivate or remove the damaged Pigment Cell.

What is the best cream for pigmentation?

There is no one best cream for pigment­a­tion. While the strongest cream that can be used by doctors is Hydroquinone, other Brightening Serums and Creams containing, Mulberry extract, liquorice extract, glycolic acid, Arbutin, Kojic acid, Vitamin C, Niacinamide, Azelaic acid, or Vitamin A (retinol) can also be helpful under doctor’s prescription.

How is Melasma on face treated?

Melasma is a common condi­tion amongst women of colour and is gener­ally triggered by preg­nancy, birth control pills or other hormonal medic­a­tions. While it does fade with time and sun protec­tion in some women, in most patients treat­ment is needed. The treat­ment gener­ally is a combin­a­tion of skin care routines and in clinic proced­ures such as Chemical Peels, TCA (Trichloroacetic peel).

What are the types of hyperpigmentation?

Common types of hyper­pig­ment­a­tion are Freckles (Ephelides), Solar lenti­gines (Liver spots or sun spots), Melasma, Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

What Home Remedies exist for pigmentation?

While there are no potent home remedies for pigment­a­tion, you can certainly prevent it by metic­u­lous sun avoid­ance or sun protec­tion. You can also observe what is causing a flare up of the pigment­a­tion and stop the cause, such as discussing altern­ative contra­ceptive methods, if you think that your OC pill is causing worsening of the pigmentation.

Can Laser get rid of pigmentation?

You will have to be examined by our doctor to decide if Lasers are going to play any role in managing your pigmentation.

What treatments can I use to get rid of my skin pigmentation?

Please under­stand that there is no silver bullet for skin pigment­a­tion as it is very diffi­cult to remove the damaged pigment cells perman­ently. Most of the treat­ments for pigment­a­tion are designed to either REMOVE THE EXISTING PIGMENTATION IN THE SKIN CELLS or to REDUCE THE PRODUCTION OF THE DAMAGED PIGMENT CELL. Very seldom with very Deep Chemical Peels or with Laser Resurfacing, a propor­tion of the damaged Pigment Cells will be removed.

Treatments that remove existing pigment­a­tion range from Chemical Peels, Dermabrasion, CO2 Lasers, Erbium YAG lasers, Q Switched Lasers, Intense Pulse Light (IPL).

Treatments that reduce existing pigment­a­tion start with regular and sincere use of Sun Screen and Sun Avoidance. Orally admin­istered Tranexamic Acid (Cyklo‑f, Cyklokapron, Menstralite, tablets) can tempor­arily lighten skin pigment­a­tion in certain condi­tions. Topical applic­a­tions of Hydroquinone, Kojic Acid, Arbutin, Bearberry, Liquorice, Vitamin C and other molecules will further lighten the pigment by redu­cing the produc­tion of the pigment by the damaged Melanocyte.

Approximate Costs

An accurate estimate of the costs is only possible after an in-clinic consulta­tion with Dr Prashant. We charge a £50 deposit to secure your consulta­tion with Dr Prashant, this amount will be deducted from the costs of the treat­ment you go on to have at our clinic.

Please contact us to find out more.