Friday, September 5, 2008


Let’s talk hyperpigmentation. This is a condition where dark patches appear on the skin. This darkening takes place when an excess of melanin, brown pigment that produces normal skin color, forms deposits in the skin.
Age spots (Solar Lentigines) are a common form of hyperpigmentation. They are caused by sun damage. They are dark patches usually found on the hands and face. Damage from the sun occurs from repeated sunburns early on during youth. Melasma, sometimes called the pregnancy mask, is caused by hormonal changes like pregnancy or birth control. Acne may also cause dark spots after the condition is gone. Freckles are also a form of pigmentation, but an inherited one.

During the 70’s we sunbathed with baby oil and iodine, in the 80’s out came sun beds. Some dermatologists considered these to be a safer alternative to the sun. The UVA ray was considered the safe ray and was thought to not penetrate as deeply and the UVB (the burn ray). We now know this isn’t true. The UVA ray actually penetrates through the epidermis into the second layer of skin where collagen and elastin are made. Not only will this cause hyperpigmentation but it will also dry and crack the collagen and elastin fibers making the skins outer dermis look wrinkly and aged.

So whether you are a baby boomer, used sun beds in the 80’s, or are from generation now and have had one too many sunburns, you most likely have underlying or surface pigmentation.

There are numerous treatments to help treat pigmentation disorders.
Prescription creams are used to lighten the skin over time. They usually contain hydroquinone. This helps fade darkened skin patches by slowing the production of melanin. In more severe cases prescription creams with tretinoin and a cortisone cream may be used. These may be somewhat irritating to sensitive skin and will take 3-6 months to produce improvement. (Hydroquinone is banned in Europe and I personally do not recommend it.) Skin lightening serums that contain tyrosine-inhibiting ingredients such as Kojic Acid or Mulberry Root are also beneficial.
Microdermabrasion is a process where multifaceted crystals are used to exfoliate and polish the outer layer of the dermis while vacuum stimulation increases blood flow to the surface of the skin. The suction helps stimulate blood flow to the surface of the skin for collagen and elastin reformation. Microderm in conjunction with other treatments can also be beneficial in lightening pigmentation. By exfoliating, you’re also allowing for better product penetration (this is good if you are using a cream to lighten the skin). Multiple treatments scheduled 10 to 14 days apart allow maximum rejuvenation of the skin.
RN Bridget (Gigi) Goddard, owner of Pure Indulgence Skin Rejuvenation in Laguna Niguel, California and current trainer for Cutera laser, prefers the Pearl laser to treat hear clients with pigmentation. Gigi says that The Pearl is one of the most effective treatments for discoloration and uneven texture. You need fewer treatments and less recovery time than with other Erbium and Co2 laser procedures. With the Pearl you get deep thermal penetration for longer lasting benefits. Another treatment Gigi uses is the Limelight. Similar to the IPL(intense pulse light) this treatment delivers non-invasive pulses of light to the discolored areas of the skin resulting in darkening and sloughing off. GiGi has worked in the field of medical esthetics for the past 7 years and has trained countless plastic surgeons throughout Orange and LA Counties. For more information or other services she offers please contact Gigi at Pure Indulgence Skin.
Chemical Peels resurface the skin by inducing a controlled wound to the skin. Similar to microdermabrasion, they remove the top layers (or deeper) of skin to help collagen production. There are different chemical peels that vary in strength and depth, some of which may only be done under the care of a physician. Deeper peels will have longer recovery. Depending on your condition and skin type your skin care professional can customize the peel. I have used Cosmedix peels and have found them to be very effective without much down time, if any.

Maintaining your results after treatment will depend on what you do post-treatment. Using a good broad-spectrum sunscreen is #1. Ultimate UV Defense with zinc by Skin Ceuticals is one of my favorites. Your skin care professional should also prescribe a good regimen to help maintain your new results.

Please feel free to post any questions and I will be happy to answer!

*This article is only for informative purposes. This article is not intended to be a medical advice and it is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your doctor for all your medical concerns. Please follow any information given in this article only after consulting your doctor or qualified medical professional. The author is not liable for any outcome or damage resulting from any information obtained from this article.

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