Common benign pigmentary disorders

The 3 most common benign pigmentary disorders are freckles, solar lentigo (sun spots/ age spots) and melasma. Although harmless, facial pigmentation is of great cosmetic concern and can lead to poor self-esteem, social withdrawal or even depression. Freckles are small and numerous brown spots that often develop in light skinned individuals with a genetic predisposition. They develop earlier in life (often from childhood) and often involve the entire face. Solar lentigo (sun spots/age spots) tends to be single or scattered, darker and well defined. They develop in middle age onwards and tend to affect the cheeks and temples. Melasma tends to be symmetrical and affects the cheeks. Melasma has a strong hormonal link and affects women during pregnancy and menopause.

How do benign pigmentary disorders develop?

Melanocytes are skin cells responsible for producing pigment (melanin), which are stored in small packages known as melanosomes. Melanocytes exist at the dermal-epithelial junction and transfer melanin via melanosomes to the superficial skin cells known as keratinocytes. This normal process can become disrupted with an excess of melanin being produced- leading to visible dark patches on the skin. Known causes include: Sun/UV exposure, genetics, hormonal changes and pregnancy.

Best Pigmentation Treatment Options

It is important to diagnose the type of pigmentation accurately as it will affect treatment planning. Freckles and lentigo respond well to treatment, while Melasma is difficult to treat with a high recurrence rate. A medical consultation with clinical photography and skin analysis would determine the exact type of pigmentation and exclude cancerous pigmented lesions such as melanoma.

Treatment involves UV avoidance, skincare, topical medication, oral medication and pico laser therapy.

At Bay Aesthetic Clinic- pigmentation treatments are customized for every patient. After a medical consultation and studio grade photography, patients will also undergo detailed pigmentation analysis using the Lifeviz 3D photography system (link here to page), which aids accurate diagnosis and follow up. A customised skincare and medication plan will be advised, using products by Skinceuticals (link here) and Heliocare (link here). Finally, pigmentation is treated using the PicoSure laser, which utilises the 755nm wavelength to target melanin.

Frequently Asked Questions

This would depend on several factors, including- type of pigmentation, skin type, lifestyle/sun exposure, compliance to skincare/medications/laser treatment. Typically, freckles and lentigos can be treated within 3-6 months, while melasma takes longer and has a high recurrence rate. Due to age and previous sun damage, new pigmentations will develop over time even after a course of treatment has been completed. It is a marathon and not a sprint!
Every 3-4 weeks is ideal, to give the skin a chance to rest and regenerate. Too frequent laser treatments (eg 3 times a week) may risk complications such as hypopigmentation (white spots)
Pigmentation treatment can be tricky and requires an accurate diagnosis with a customised treatment plan that includes lifestyle modifications, sun avoidance, skincare adjustments, medications and laser treatments. Establishments performing cheap laser treatments in a factory line style may not be able to deliver a bespoke treatment that optimises results.
Yes, pigmentation removal treatments at Bay Aesthetic Clinic use US FDA approved lasers and medications
Results vary between individiuals, pigmentation treatments require patience, typically 4-5 sessions are required for good results. Some patients see an improvement after 1 treatment.
No, prior to laser treatment, numbing cream containing a topical anaesthetic is applied, so most patients barely feel the laser. Some patients even request for laser treatments without any numbing cream!
In certain cases yes! Freckles, sun spots can often be completely removed. Certain forms of pigmentations such as Melasma can be more stubborn. Results vary between individuals.
Yes, it is common to do a pigmentation removal laser treatment followed by other treatments such as skinboosters or fillers.
Yes and no- the pigmentation removed by the laser goes away permanently, however with ageing and sun exposure new areas of pigmentation can develop
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