Article medically reviewed by Dr. Gavin Chan (MBBS, cosmetic doctor, liposuctionist)
Templestowe Lower, Berwick and Beaumaris Clinics
Dr. Gavin Chan has a background in intensive care, anaesthesia, and emergency medicine. Since 2005, Dr. Chan has provided cosmetic procedures, including anti-wrinkle injections, dermal fillers, liposuction and laser treatments. He is a doctor trainer for various dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections. Read More
Your toddler has finally settled, the babysitter has arrived and you’re getting ready for a long awaited night out with your friends. But as you put your make up on, you see something smudged on your face. Thinking it may be Vegemite or even dirt, you rub at it – it doesn’t budge! Then you realise it’s a brown patch of pigmentation.
You know it’s been some time since you’ve paid attention to your own needs, let alone looking after your skin. Looking closer in the mirror, you can see your skin tone is uneven and making you look older than you are. Don’t worry though! Skin pigmentation on the face affects a lot of people, especially women.
What is melasma skin pigmentation?
Melasma is a form of facial pigmentation stimulated by UV radiation and your natural circulating oestrogens. This form of skin pigmentation is stimulated by oestrogen from the contraceptive pill, pregnancy and hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Melasma skin pigmentation usually affects women more than men and can be found on sun-exposed areas of your face including:
- Upper lip – sometimes creating a moustache appearance
- Forehead, and
- Bridge of the nose.
Most people who have hormonal skin pigmentation tend to have a more olive or dark complexion. While melasma doesn’t cause you any pain or discomfort, it can be distressing because it’s highly visible. Melasma can’t really be cured, but it can be treated so its effects are minimised. We address this type of skin pigmentation with laser, lightening creams, sunscreens, and tranexemic acid.
Is there a hormonal reason underlying the cause of your melasma?
Before you treat the skin pigmentation on your face, it’s important to determine if there are any reasons why your pigmentation has worsened. A steep rise in oestrogen levels will stimulate excess melanin production – this results in hyperpigmentation of your skin.
If you’ve been pregnant or had friends who are pregnant, you may have noticed dark, brown and blotchy patches of skin on your upper lips, forehead and cheeks. Chloasma (often called the ‘mask of pregnancy’) can affect 50-75% of expectant mothers. And if family members have had this skin pigmentation issue, it’s more likely you will develop chloasma.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding we do not perform skin treatments targeted at melasma, however you can adopt a preventative approach. You can read further on in this blog for preventative skin care options. Consulting one of our skin therapists will help you match the best skin care for your skin pigmentation.
2 Oral contraceptives
If you’re taking oral contraceptives and notice blotchy brown patches appearing on your face, it’s important consult with a Cosmetic Doctor. The sooner you start treating your melasma, the better! Call us on 1300 863 824 to book your consultation in.
3 Hormone Replacement Therapy and Melasma
If you are on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and develop blotchy, brown skin symptoms of melasma, you will need to take extra care to:
- Use sunscreen throughout the day
- Stay out of the hot midday sun
- Wear a hat
- Consult with one of our practitioners about an appropriate melasma pigmentation treatment for your skin.
4 Exposure to UV rays
The appearance of melasma on your face can turn darker with exposure to the sun. If you’re pregnant, on the contraceptive pill or on hormone replacement therapy, you will need to apply sun protection cream in the morning and throughout the day. It’s also important to regularly wear a hat and sunglasses.
Melasma skin pigmentation treatment options at Victorian Cosmetic Institute
When you’re looking for treatment options for your skin pigmentation, we suggest you consult with a trained cosmetic practitioner. Misdiagnosis or going down the wrong treatment path could make your melasma worse.
Treatments are a long-term commitment and there are no quick fixes, but we offer some of the best tools available to give you optimal results. Having a professional consultation with us is an important step to getting your melasma treatment correct. Your skin pigmentation treatment needs to have a multiple modality approach and this may include topical or oral prescriptions. Meeting with our Cosmetic Doctors gives you peace of mind that you’re getting the highest quality melasma hormonal pigmentation treatment available in Melbourne.
This video by Director and Founder of Victorian Cosmetic Institute, Dr Gavin Chan discusses the treatment of hormonal pigmentation and includes examples of before and after treatment pictures
Medlite laser treatment
Medlite laser treatment may be used to treat your hormonal pigmentation. Over a course of 6-8 sessions, the laser wavelengths treat the most highly pigmented areas of your face. Using short pulses the Medlite laser delivers minimal heat to your face, giving you less downtime and minimal redness. Most of our patients choose to go back to work after their Medlite skin pigmentation treatment.
Fraxel laser treatment
Fraxel laser treatment is another option we can use to treat your melasma. The Fraxel laser treats a fraction of your skin when it fires micro-columns of energy into the affected area. With two wavelengths available it’s able to penetrate to different depths and target your melasma at all levels.
Topical melasma treatment
Another option your cosmetic doctor may suggest for your skin pigmentation is a Kligman’s formula prescription skin lightening topical treatment. Well-known dermatologist, Albert Kligman, has formulated this melasma treatment. It combines hydroquinone, dexamethasone, and tretinoin (a retinoid). This effective treatment offers minimal adverse effects. This is not an appropriate if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
The oral medication, tranexemic acid, can also be used to treat your melasma effectively. Traditionally used to stop bleeding (like heavy menstrual bleeding or bleeding post dental extraction) in smaller dosages it can be used to prevent the formation of melanin (pigmentation) in response to UV radiation.
Your Cosmetic Doctor may also recommend a Melasma package, which combines:
- A series of MedLite lasers
- SkinMedica Lytera skin brightening system
- La Roche Posay Anthelios XL 50+ sunscreen, and
- Tranexemic acid
To find out how our package can help your facial skin pigmentation call us on 1300 863 824.
Melasma skin pigmentation treatment options if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
While we can treat hormonal skin pigmentation that have been caused by your pregnancy, the treatments above aren’t suitable if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
Our skin therapists can help tailor a preventative approach to your melasma skin pigmentation. We recommend the following products but please note that only one of the following serums should be used i.e. Aspect Dr Complete Pigment Serum, Synergie Practitioner Vanish + or Osmosis MD Enlighten.
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL 50+ Ultra Light Fluid Sunscreen. This very high SPF sunscreen provides broad photostable UVA/UVB sun protection. It’s ultra-light weight texture and non-greasy finish is also incredibly water resistant http://shop.vci.com.au/products/la-roche-posay-anthelios-xl-50-extreme-fluid
- Aspect Dr Complete Pigment Serum improves skin pigmentation while preventing future pigmentation developing. This serum lightens the appearance of pigmentation while improving your skin tone. https://shop.vci.com.au/collections/aspect-dr/products/complete-pigment-serum
- Synergie Practitioner Vanish + (requires consultation with our skin therapist)
- Osmosis MD Enlighten can dramatically lighten your skin, calm inflammation, remodel scarring, hydrate and protect against UV rays https://shop.vci.com.au/collections/osmosis-md-skincare
- Synergie Minerals are 100% Australian made and owned. With no toxic ingredients, this highly active skincare range has high levels of physical sunscreen in them. They can be applied and reapplied safely throughout the day https://shop.vci.com.au/collections/synergie-minerals
Fed up with your melasma skin pigmentation?Arrange your consultation online today.