Do you have dark patches or spots of skin on your face that bother you? Pigmentation issues are common yet hyperpigmentation can be treated fairly easily and in many cases can vanish completely. Let's take a look at some of the ways in which you can treat those pesky patches.
If you have problems with skin pigmentation, an aesthetics practitioner can help you to clear up dark patches and spots. Find one here.
Pigmentation is colouring of the skin and hyperpigmentation describes areas of uneven pigmentation, where you have flat, dark patches of skin that are different sizes and colours. It happens when your skin produces more melanin, which is the pigment responsible for your skin’s colour.
It can appear on any part of your body, affect your whole body or appear as darkened patches or spots, which are generally known as age or sun spots. Other types of hyperpigmentation include melasma ( a type of hyperpigmentation that is common in women, especially during and after pregnancy) and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation which occurs following skin injury or inflammation when skin is left darkened and discoloured after the wound has healed.
A typical presentation of hyperpigmentation.
Who is affected?
It affects people of all skin types but people with dark skin are normally more affected by hyperpigmentation marks than those with a lighter skin tone, because skin pigmentation is stronger in dark skin. This is harder to manage on darker skin, because brown patches tend to emerge with a higher pigment, and can take longer to fade.
What causes hyperpigmentation?
There are numerous reasons why you might develop pigmentation issues, the main causes are exposure to the sun, hormones, age and skin injuries and illness. Hyperpigmentation is usually harmless and the brown patches on skin are more of a cosmetic issue for most people.
How can I prevent hyperpigmentation?
Prevention is always better than cure, and using a sunscreen EVEN WHEN IT’S CLOUDY AND RAINING can help prevent hyperpigmentation. Slap on SPF 50 every day, no excuses. It also helps to prevent lines and wrinkles and, of course, skin cancer. It’s never too late to start, you’re never too young to begin.
How can I treat my pigmentation issues?
There are a number of lovely aesthetic treatments that can help treat hyperpigmentation, and it will largely depend on your type of pigmentation, where it is on your skin and what other treatments you might be having. You should definitely book a consultation with a medically qualified practitioner, who will tailor a solution specifically for you.
Treatments most commonly used to treat pigmentation problems:
A chemical peel - AKA a skin peel - is a type of treatment used to improve the overall appearance of skin by chemically exfoliating it and boosting new skin cell growth and collagen.
Practitioners apply a solution made up of acid that removes dead skin cells to create smooth skin, lessen blemishes, pigmentation, fine lines and acne scarring, as well as minimising the appearance of age spots. Essentially a chemical peel stimulates the growth of new skin.
How much is it going to cost?
There are different types of chemical peels, some go ‘deeper’ than others.
You can expect to pay upwards of £60 for a superficial peel and upwards of £100 for a medium-depth peel. Most practitioners on Glowday offer these, have a look who's near you right here
Deep peels can cost over £2000 and are carried out under anaesthetic, by surgeons, so you can’t buy this one on Glowday!
A beautiful before and after photo demonstrating the benefits of a chemical peel for hyperpigmentation.
Laser Skin Treatments
Laser treatment works by directing pulses through the skin and into the affected area. The mildest treatments work just on the skin’s epidermis (surface layer), while the more intense treatments can penetrate the deepest layers of the skin. The laser beam heats up water in skin cells, at a specific depth, causing them either to vaporise or injure them in a controlled way. This intentional, controlled cell damage leads to new, thicker layers of skin with increased levels of elastin and collagen being made. Resulting in younger, more even, healthier looking skin with fewer lines, wrinkles and pigmentation.
How much is it going to cost?
The cost of laser varies depending on the type of laser and the area to be treated. For non-ablative (less intensive, superficial layers treated) laser treatments, expect to pay anywhere from £200 to £600 for a single treatment and £2000 to £3000 for a full face. Ablative (hardcore, skin removal!) treatments are more costly. A small area (e.g. around eyes) can cost upwards of £1000, with a full-face costing £4000 or more.
Light Therapy - IPL (Intense Pulsed Light)
This is a type of light therapy used by medically qualified practitioners to help treat discolouration in the skin, such as melasma, sun damage, age spots, thread veins, birthmarks and freckles, as well as acne and signs of ageing/ IPL (sometimes referred to as IPL laser treatment) is also commonly used for hair removal, which you can find out about here. The Intense Pulsed Light works well as it gets right to the pigment, heating it up and breaking it down thanks to its multiple wavelengths of light that scatter within the skin.
How much does it cost?
Glowday has found a broad range of costs associated with this treatment depending on location ranging from £80 - £350
Microneedling uses multiple fine, sterile needles to puncture the skin with microscopic channels. This intentional, controlled injury initiates a skin healing response, resulting in the increased production of collagen and elastin. The end result is thicker, plumper, firmer, smoother skin. Additionally, skincare products are able to penetrate more deeply into the skin, making them more effective. You may be asked to adopt a particular skincare regimen for 4+ weeks prior to your first treatment, the period between that and any other subsequent treatments, and once your course of treatments has been completed. This is to maximise collagen production and skin repair.
How Much Does It Cost?
Expect to pay around £200 depending on location and type of device used for microneedling.
Medical Grade Skincare
In some cases, medical grade skincare can be used, depending on how deep the pigmentation is. If it’s super deep, skincare products just won’t be enough. However, if it’s more superficial, then a skin care regime using high-quality medical-grade skincare products may help - particularly when used in combination with other treatments such as microneedling.
Claire Ashley at Aethra Aesthetics explains: “Hydroquinone is a prescription only treatment for hyperpigmentation, and quite often that's used in conjunction with retinol and vitamin C. Altogether those three things help to improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation. pHformula has developed a serum called The MELA serum, it doesn't contain hydroquinone, but it does contain an active ingredient that inhibits melanocytes - melanocytes are the things that produce pigmentation - and in clinical trials this has been shown to be more effective than hydroquinone. I personally recommend this product with retinol and vitamin C, for my patients who have hyperpigmentation. The thing I would caution is that whilst these products will make a huge difference to hyperpigmentation, it does take time. And sometimes as the pigment is lifting, it will temporarily look worse before it starts to look better.”
How Much Does It Cost?
Will depend on your treatment plan! Book a consultation with a medically-qualified practitioner here to find out!
Dr Claire Ashley recommends a mixture of treatments for her clients depending on how deep the pigmentation is.
These are some of the most popular treatments used to tackle pigmentation issues and it’s well worth reading this article from Dr Soul, who talks in depth about tackling his own hyperpigmentation problem and the combination of treatments that worked best for him, some of which aren't covered in this article.
If your pigmentation issues are bothering you, then book in for a consultation with one of Glowday’s amazing practitioners right now. You might be surprised how easy it is to fix!
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