Hyperpigmentation/Age Spots

What is Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) is a usually a harmless condition that is very common in all skin types and races. Hyperpigmentation is caused by the excess production of melanin in certain spots of the skin, causing the deposits to look darker than your natural skin tone. Melanin is the pigment that gives human skin, hair, and eyes their color. Dark-skinned people have more melanin in their skin than light-skinned people have.

There are several different types of hyperpigmentation which can be related to several different, yet common causes:

  • Age spots, also known as solar lentigines or liver spots are benign lesions that occur as a result of sun damage. The backs of hands and face are common areas. The lesions tend to increase in number with age, making them more common among the middle age and the older population.
  • Melasma, also known as Chloasma or mask of pregnancy (when present in pregnant women) is particularly common, especially pregnant women and those who are taking oral and/or patch contraceptives as well as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) medications.
  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is caused as a result from trauma to the skin. For example, skin diseases such as acne or a simple bug bite, scratch or surgical incision may leave a pigmented mark behind once it has healed.
  • Freckles are small brown spots that can appear anywhere on the body, but are most common on the face and arms. Freckles are an inherited characteristic.

What are treatment options for Hyperpigmentation?

At the Petroff Center, we have several different treatment options for hyperpigmentation. Options range from topical skincare products and/or bleaching agents, to chemical peels, as well as lasers.

The GentleMax Pro laser has a dual platform, which allows us to treat both light and dark skin. The 755nm Alexandrite platform is utilized for the lighter skin types and the 1064 Nd:YAG technology is utilized for the darker skin types.

On average, 3 visits are recommended. Treatments are performed approximately every 4-weeks. You may experience erythema (redness) and edema (swelling) at the treatment site, which may last up to 2 hours or longer. The erythema may last up to 2-3 days. The treated pigment will appear darker immediately and will remain dark the first few days following treatment. The darkened pigment will flake off like dry skin within 7-10 days.

With a customized skin care regimen, you can prevent or minimize the appearance and/or recurrence of hyperpigmentation. Wearing a sunscreen is a must! The sunscreen must be “broad spectrum” (i.e. it blocks both UVA and UVB). A single day of excess sun can undo months of treatment.

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