Unwanted skin pigmentation is one of the common conditions we get asked to treat in our clinics and there are a wide range of options for removing or at least significantly reducing the appearance of this problem.
Pigmentation can range from slightly over grown freckle like spots through to larger areas called sun or age spots. Some can be troubled with just one area whilst others can be extensively affected by multiple patches. A separate sub group is those who have a condition called melasma which is a hormone related condition and can involve large patches over the skin.
Pigmentation results from penetration of such things as UV rays and environmental pollution through the external skin barrier into the deeper layers of the skin. The skin’s defence mechanism then responds with several pathways of inflammation which triggers multiple responses, one of which is excitation of the melanocyte, the cell in the skin responsible for making melanin pigment that causes skin to go darker. Regardless of the type of pigmentation or its cause the treatment strategy should involve reversing and controlling these steps. This is why we utilise skincare that has been shown to restore skin barrier function, dampen all pathways of chronic inflammation and reduce the production of melanin from the melanocyte.
Treatments available for pigmentation
Photorejuvenation using Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
The Fotofacial is a procedure that utilises Intense Pulsed Light to target colour in the skin. Short millisecond pulses of laser light pass into the skin with the light energy being absorbed by the pigmentation cells. Over the following days the pigment darkens, moves to the surface and is removed with the natural turnover of the skin. Not only is pigmentation improved but also redness, facial veins, open pores and fine wrinkles are reduced by a course of Fotofacials.
A word of caution, the IPL Fotofacial is not a good option for the melasma form of pigmentation as this can make the pigment significantly worse.
Skin peels are very popular and the Epionce Peel is particularly useful as it encourages shedding of the surface pigment whilst stimulating the production of new healthier epidermal cells. It is important not to attack the skin with harsh peels that can remove large amounts of cells and pigment but simply render the skin more irritable and sun sensitive with the risk of triggering yet more pigment production. We no longer believe that deep peels with their subsequent marked skin shedding are sensible but prefer courses of medium strength peels that cause a greater turnover of the epidermal cells without dramatic skin loss.
Another popular method for treating pigmentation is microneedling where a controlled micro injury encourages reabsorption of pigmented areas and the replacement of these areas with new, healthier skin cells. The DermaFrac treatment for pigmentation combines gentle crystal free microdermabrasion, microneedling under vacuum, infusion of Kojic acid, an ingredient shown to be effective in treating pigmentation and LED light therapy. No anesthetic is required and as there is no down time it can be performed without having to reorganise your busy schedule.
An alternative form of microneedling is the Collagen PIN, an automated pen like device that produces literally hundreds of fine micro injuries vertically down into the skin. Abnormal sun damaged skin is reabsorbed and replaced by the body’s natural repair mechanisms.
A fresh look at your skincare regime is necessary if we are to get the best results with pigmentation. As an organisation we reject the commonly used strategy of treating pigmentation with retinol or hydroquinone. Much of the evidence now suggests that this approach although effective in the short term simply produces an unhealthy, irritable skin which is prone to dryness, peeling and sensitivities, particularly extreme sun sensitivity. At the end of such courses of skincare the common result is a rebound appearance of the pigmentation, to a level that is much worse than before you started.
Epionce skincare has been shown in independent clinical studies to be superior to the Obagi approach with the same reduction in pigmentation without the unpleasant skin side effects and the rebound when the active products are discontinued. Instead Epionce Renewals or Intensive Nourishing Cream work to repair the external skin barrier and dampen chronic inflammation that is the driver to the formation of the pigmentation. Combining this with the anti-pigmentary products, Epionce Melanolyte Tx and Melanolyte Pigment Perfecting Serum is an extremely effective way of both reducing and controlling unwanted pigmentation.
Daily UV protection in the form of SPF 50 is essential to protect against further triggers to pigment formation. Pleasant formulations such as Epionce Daily Shield SPF 50 are physical blocks free from chemicals and safe for constant daily use.