New Melasma Treatment
Clear and even toned skin is the holy grail of beauty – and a spotless complexion might be the top request from female patients at dermatology clinics. Melasma, simply an increase in pigment in the skin, is a common complaint: “Increasingly women are concerned about the brown patches on their forehead, cheeks, and upper lip. These tend to darken in the sun and with time,” says our consulting derm Lisa Kellett, M.D., F.R.C.P.(C), D.A.B.D., owner of DLK on Avenue, a dermatology clinic in downtown Toronto. Essentially, melasma is caused by trauma to the skin, which can be a result of several factors including hormones, sunlight, pregnancy, and the birth control pill. These factors can result in the stimulation of the release of pigment and subsequent darkening of the skin, says Dr. Kellett.
Who gets melasma?
- Mostly women; Only 10% of those affected are men.
- Pregnant women or women using oral contraception.
- Dark-skinned ethnicities, specifically hispanic, Asians, Indians, and people from the Middle East, and Northern African.
- People with a family history of melasma are more likely to develop the condition.
How is melasma treated today?
Hope for gals with blotchy skin comes in the form of a new-generation cosmetic peel program available at the derm’s office. Called the “Spotless depigmentation system” at Dr. Kellett’s clinic, this pharmaceutical-grade in-office treatment is available in two forms.
The first option is a 5-10 hour mask (Cost $1800 per “Spotless” treatment). For faster results, a modified version using a peel solution is available (Cost: $1200 per “MiniPeel” treatment). Both treatment programs are accompanied by a home treatment regimen. Dr. Kellett explain the differences, “The mask improves the appearance of more significant hyperpigmentation, whereas the peel is intended as a brightening treatment for milder cases. Both treatments help to decrease the existing pigment and to reduce the chance of re-pigmentation.”
The masks, which are freshly compounded at the clinic by the dermatologist, contain skin-brightening Vitamin C, arbutin, retinoid, and natural exfoliating acids (Lactic/Phytic/Azelaic). “After these are removed, the patient leaves with a home kit that contains a special night cream prepared by the physician that also contains arbutin and a retinoid.”
One of the most appealing aspects of these treatments is that they do not contain hydroquinone, an effective but controversial lightener that is banned in Europe due to cancer concerns. With consumer safety and health in mind, the Spotless formulas utilize hydroquinone’s glycosylated cousin arbutin, a well-documented ingredient that is “structurally and chemically similar to hydroquinone but is safer biologically” says Dr. Kellett’s cosmetic nurse Diana Phillips.
What can you expect after one treatment?
Clarity in skin and improvement in texture irregularities can be seen after the first treatment, as evident in the before and after photo above, however patients with severe to moderate melasma may require 2-3 treatments, spaced 3-4 months apart to gain optimal results. A medical examination will determine how many treatments you will need. And of course, “Diligent use of the home care kit and sun avoidance is crucial to your success on this program”, stresses Dr. Kellett.