About my condition
Melasma is a chronic skin condition that results in symmetrical, blotchy, brownish facial pigmentation. It is more common in women, typically occurs between the ages of 20-40 and tends to run in families.
Although the cause is complex, the pigmentation is due to overproduction of melanin by the pigment cells, melanocytes, which is taken up by the keratinocytes and deposited in the dermis. Known triggers for melasma are sun exposure, pregnancy, hormone treatments including the oral contraceptive pills, certain cosmetics and underactive thyroid.
Topical lightening creams can be compounded and the benefits of different types of laser treatments can be discussed.
How does this treatment work?
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) which targets the melanin is effective in treating benign lesions and clearing them.
What happens on the day
If your doctor has prescribed a laser treatment, you will need to sign a consent form, have photographs taken for your records, remove all makeup and you will be given protective eyewear. A Doctor or laser trained nurse, under the supervision of your Doctor will perform the treatments. After the treatment, most people might have mild redness and a cool pack and cooling gel will be applied to reduce any heat or discomfort. Most people can return to work or home.
Risks, side effects, precautions
- Discomfort - varies for people. From a stinging sensation to a rubber band snap. May last up to an hour for some people. The vast majority of people tolerate discomfort however for others we have topical anaesthetic and laughing gas on site.
- Redness – usually resolves 24-48 hours.
- Damage to natural skin texture - crusting which can take up to 5-10 days to heal.
Less common but important to know about :
- Bruising – rare. Fades over a month.
- Scarring - extremely rare more likely in those with keloid tendency.
- Change of pigmentation - more common problem in darker skin types or if sun exposure before or after the treatment (hyperpigmentation can fade in 3 months but hypopigmentation may last longer).
- Excessive swelling especially around eyes – temporary swelling resolves in few hours – 7 days.
- Burns – small chance. Unlikely if you perform test patches.
how many treatments suggested
About 3 approximately 2-4 weeks apart.
suitable skin types
IPL more suitable for lighter skin types
Minimal. Discomfort maximum 1 hour. Redness resolves over 1-2 days. Makeup ok to wear the next day.
- Sun avoidance minimum 2 weeks before and after treatments.
- SPF50+ sun protection for 1 month after treatment.
- No fake tan 2 weeks prior.
- Retinoic acid topical cream.
- Herpes Simplex Virus.
- Ensure you tell your doctor if you take any photosensitizing medications such as doxycycline (often prescribed for acne or malaria prevention), St Johns wart, Roaccutane TM, retinoic acid
how do I start?
A doctor is required to prescribe a laser treatment. If you would like to discuss whether a laser treatment is suitable for your skin condition, please make an appointment to see one of our Skin Doctors who will fully assess and advise you about your skin condition, treatment options and suitability of your skin for laser/IPL treatments. At the end of your treatment course, our skin doctors will assess your improvement.