Pigmentation Treatment in Singapore
Pigmentation & Freckles Removal Treatment
A lot of us desire that flawlessly smooth and blemish-free skin. Unfortunately for Asians, this may involve close attention and effort.
While often admired for their porcelain-like complexion, being prone to hyperpigmentation than any other ethnic race certainly gets in the way of achieving spotless skin. It is no wonder why skin lightening or brightening products are widely in-demand among Asians to address pigmentation issues like freckles, age spots and melasma.
Compared to other races, Asians are known to produce more melanin, which is a pigment that gives the skin, hair and even the eyes their colour. Melanin also provides your skin with a blanket of protection against harmful UV rays.
However, frequent and unprotected sun exposure stimulates the production of melanin. The problem occurs when overproduction is uneven across the face and the body. Any areas that are still healing from an inflammatory process, like acne or a wound, can also become discoloured with sun exposure.
The good thing about skin pigmentation is it’s generally harmless and is more of a cosmetic issue. However, these uneven skin discolorations get in the way of your quest for flawlessly smooth skin. But just like any other skin concern, there are effective ways to address it.
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1. What are the common types of skin pigmentation?
There are different types of pigmentation. So, that discoloration on your face could be different from that found on other parts of your body. Here are some of the common types of skin pigmentation.
This is a common type of hyperpigmentation that is characterized by brown to gray-brown patches on the face, more specifically on the cheeks, forehead, chin, nose, and above the upper lip. It may be caused by sun exposure or hormonal changes. While both men and women are likely to develop melasma, it is often common among women. It is also referred to as Chloasma or the mask of pregnancy when present during pregnancy.
Also known as freckles, these light brown to reddish small circular spots are sometimes seen as a beauty mark. But for others, it can be a skin flaw. Freckles is a result of an uneven distribution of melanin in one area of the skin. This may be caused by genetics or excessive sun exposure. Freckles that stem from sun exposure are usually darker and irregular in shape compared to a simple freckle.
c. Solar Lentigines
These are also popularly known as age spots or liver spots. As the popular name implies, this skin pigmentation occurs in older skin and usually begins to manifest after the age of 40. These are often light brown to black in color and are usually located in areas that are often exposed to the sun. Apart from the natural aging process, lentigines can form earlier due to lifestyle factors.
d. Cafe-au-lait macules
Derived from its meaning “coffee with milk”, café-au-lait macules or spots are characterized for its light to dark brown color. Typically oval in shape, it doesn’t grow more than 5 to 15 mm in diameter, and it usually forms during infancy or childhood. While it can develop in any part of the body, café-au-lait macules are usually found on the trunk. However, the presence of several café-au-lait spots in the body may indicate a systemic disorder.
e. Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation
This is a type of hyperpigmentation caused by the increase in melanin production due to an inflammatory response. This forms as a result of trauma in the epidermal or dermal layers of the skin, such as acne, skin injury, dermatitis, skin infection or allergies. This can result in dark pigmented patches that range from dirty brown to rusty brown on the areas where the injury or inflammation is previously present.
Birthmark is a skin pigmentation that is neither caused by genetics or sun exposure. In fact, the exact cause is still unknown. However, the overgrowth of blood vessels, melancolytes and fibrosis, as well as the imbalance of the development of the skin cells, contribute to the development of birthmarks.
There are two distinct types of birthmarks. Pigmented birthmarks result in the overproduction of melancolytes, which include moles and café-au-lait. Vascular birthmarks, on the other hand, are caused by vascular irregularities on the skin’s surface.
The above-mentioned skin discoloration disorders are categorized as hyperpigmentation, where there is an overproduction of melanin. On the other end of the spectrum, vitiligo is a type of hypopigmentation disorder where there is a loss of pigmentation. It can affect any part of the body and usually appear in patches.
3. What are the available treatments for pigmentation?
Treatments for uneven skin pigmentation can range from simple to aggressive treatments. Such treatments include:
a. Sun Protection
This is not entirely a treatment, but a preventive measure to address pigmentation issues. Prevention is better than cure, as they say. It is recommended that you should apply an SPF 30 broad-spectrum sunscreen 20 minutes prior to sun exposure, making sure to reapply throughout the day.
b. Home Remedies
There are several home remedies that have been known to be effective in treating hyperpigmentation. While these kitchen solutions are cheap and convenient, improvements in lightening the dark spots are not as dramatic and as significant compared to professional treatments.
c. Topical Creams
Beauty products or prescription creams formulated with skin lightening ingredients, such as glycolic acid and azaleic acid, are effective in correcting skin pigmentation through regular use.
d. Chemical Peel
While prescription creams are effective solutions to skin discolouration, the results may not be as immediate. A chemical peel is an intensive treatment that can correct uneven skin pigmentation by using chemicals of different strength to peel off targeted layers of the skin (Rendon 2010). As the old skin layer is sloughed off, the process results in the resurfacing new skin layers to reveal radiant and blemish-free skin.
This aesthetic treatment uses rough crystals or other abrasive substances to buff out the outer layer of the skin. This procedure helps in stimulating healthy cell turnover, which can help reduce pigmentation problems (Shim et.al, 2001).
e. Skin Laser Resurfacing
Another effective treatment for skin discolouration is the use of non-ablative skin laser resurfacing treatment (Ho et.al 1995). Delivering high pulses of energy, it directs heat to targeted areas of the skin and destroys the melancolytes without damaging the surrounding areas. This is an effective treatment in correcting uneven pigmentation.
3. What is the best treatment for me?
Your doctor will first determine the type of pigmentation through a careful and thorough consultation. From there, an appropriate treatment will be recommended, taking into consideration your specific skin type and pigmentation. In certain cases, a combination of treatments may be recommended to achieve significant and dramatic results.
4. Is it painful?
Microdermabrasion and skin laser resurfacing treatments are both non-invasive and are virtually pain-free. Minimal redness and swelling in the treated area may be experienced immediately after the treatment, which will eventually subside after a couple of hours.
On the other hand, a chemical peel may be painful depending on the strength of the chemical used for your treatment. The stronger the solution, the more painful it will be. In most cases, the pain you will experience in superficial and medium peels is generally tolerable. However, deep peels will require an application of local anaesthetic prior to your treatment.
5. How long does the treatment take?
The length of treatment will depend on the extent of work needed. Generally, one treatment session may take 15 to 30 minutes, but it may also extend beyond that.
6. How many sessions do I need to effectively get rid of pigmentation?
Skin pigmentation is one of the most common skin problems, but it can also be challenging to treat as well. Regardless of the procedure recommended for your skin and pigmentation type, several treatment sessions spaced appropriately is usually needed. This is to achieve desired results when lightening dark spots and evening out the skin tone.
Dr. Tyng Tan, understands the usual concerns that affect Asian skin and that includes skin pigmentation. She has experience in handling laser resurfacing machines, as well as chemical peel and microdermabrasion treatments.
The cost of skin pigmentation treatment will depend on the required number of sessions, which will be discussed in detail during your consultation. The doctor will thoroughly assess your case and provide you with a customised treatment that can even out your skin tone.
Shim EK, Barnette D, Hughes K, Greenway HT. Microdermabrasion: A clinical and histopathologic study. Dermatol Surg 2001;27:524-30. [PubMed]
Marta I. Rendon, Diane D Berson et al., ‘Evidence and Considerations in the Application of Chemical Peels in Skin Disorders and Aesthetic Resurfacing’, Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, (2010), pp.32-43. [PubMed]
Ho C, Nguyen Q, Lowe NJ, Griffin ME, Lask G. Laser resurfacing in pigmented skin. Dermatol Surg. 1995 Dec;21(12):1035-7. [Abstract]
DISCLAIMER: Dr Tyng Tan Aesthetics and Hair Clinic website provides general information about medical aesthetic treatments and procedures. It must be remembered that individual client’s circumstances may vary and each treatment may not be suitable for all.
Our website serves as basic information for clients and does not substitute a detailed and personal consultation with a practitioner.