Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Is Micro Dermabrasion Good For Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation occurs when patches of skin become darker than the surrounding areas. I got my first sun spots (also known as age spots or liver spots) on my arms and chest when I was 23. I'm now 35. Sun spots are one of the most common forms of uneven skin tone and there's no hiding, they are ugly.

How Does Microdermabrasion Get Rid Of Hyper Pigmentation?

From what I understand, unevenly pigmented skin cells are stuck on the skin's surface which means skin resurfacing procedures can easily get to and remove them to uncover normally pigmented skin underneath. Of all these treatments for getting rid of uneven skin tone, microderm abrasion is, without a doubt, the least invasive procedure. What microbrasion does is peel off a very fine layer of skin by sandblasting it with a flow of aluminum oxide micro crystals.

You wouldn't think that would be enough to even out skin tone but it does help. In some cases, though, these cells are deeper in the skin and not so easily removed with microderm abrasions.

My darker sun spots, for example, saw an improvement but did not fade completely. If you have severe hyper pigmentation (and by that I mean darker patches) you may have to look at other treatments. Microdermabarasion also improves cell turnover which helps with the irregular pigmentation (so long as it's the superficial kind). The quicker old, unevenly pigmented cells are shed, the quicker they are replaced by new, normally-pigmented skin cells.

Many people try micro dermabrasion once and give up in disappointment. Because this exfoliation is so superficial you can expect to see results after 10-12 abrasions. I didn't have microderm abrasion specifically for my sun spots but for the stretch marks left from my pregnancy. However, I was pleasantly surprised with what it did for my spots after a full treatment.

Treatments For Hyperpigmentation Removal

I really thought I'd need laser to get rid of my sun spots but, fortunately, they were very small and faded away nicely with microdermabrasion. You, however, may have other, more serious forms of uneven skin tone so here's a short list of available treatments:

· Laser resurfacing - Normal laser skin resurfacing works by evaporating the first few layers of damaged skin to leave behind a fresh, evenly toned skin. Hydroquinone or mild chemical peels are often recommended before laser resurfacing for best results.

· Intense Pulsed Light - IPL is a type of laser that leaves no scars, can sometimes heal freckles or other mild sun spots without using peels or hydroquinone creams beforehand.

· Hydroquinone Creams - They bleach the skin by slowing down the production of melanin. Dark spots fade in a few weeks. They are usually used for hyper pigmentations which are not caused by hormonal changes.

· Hydroxy Acid Peels - They increase cell renewal rate and correct hyperpigmentation marks. Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) are water soluble acids and can help remove hyperpigmentation, while Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) are lipid soluble acids and increase the rate of exfoliation but are not particularly known to remove hyperpigmentation.

· Physician Formulas - These are more expensive skin pigmentation treatments but are very effective (Kinerase, Retin A, Renova, Avita etc).

What Causes Hyper Pigmentation?

Age or liver spots are the most common form of uneven skin tone. "Solar lentigines" (the medical term for this form of uneven pigmentation) appear due to sun damage. Areas most prone to age spots are those frequently exposed to the sun, like your hands, neck and face. Liver spots are caused by excessive sun exposure and the lack of appropriate SPF protection.

Melasma or chloasma spots look almost identical with age spots but they are larger and are caused by hormonal changes. You can get them on your face (temples and forehead), chest or abdomen, depending on what causes hyper pigmentation. Melasma appears most often because of hormonal changes (pregnancy or birth control pills, for example) and disappears after child birth or once you stop the birth control treatment.

Freckles are also signs of uneven skin pigmentation and can appear anywhere on the body, especially on the face, cleavage and hands. Freckles are usually inherited from parents.

Some forms of skin hyperpigmentation may be the result of acne or other skin conditions that could leave colored marks on the skin after healing. Cosmetic surgery, burns or injuries can also cause hyperpigmentation.

Another cause of hyperpigmentation may be drug treatment with amiodarone, tetracycline, minocycline, bleomycin, cyclophosphamide, chloroquine and quinacrine. If you have a history of taking any of these drugs and have uneven skin tone, it would be best to see a dermatologist.

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