Hyperpigmentation – brown spots – can make you look older. It can tarnish an otherwise attractive face. During the summertime, hyperpigmentation can become worse as people spend more time in the sun. That is particularly true in the Inland Empire section of California where I live. Besides sun exposure, birth control pills, other medications and pregnancy can cause brown spots to appear. There are a number of treatments that can be effective. But for years, those with Latina complexions, Asian-Americans, African-Americans and those with other darker skin tones have had limited options to improve hyperpigmentation. A new treatment has changed all that.
Editor’s Note: Dr. Brian Machida is a highly experienced, board certified facial plastic surgeon. He taught for years at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. Dr. Machida is the Medical Director at STC Plastic Surgery in Ontario, CA in California’s Inland Empire.
Brown spots caused by pregnancy or birth control pills can often fade on their own. In most other cases, it’s necessary to receive treatments to remove them. Traditional treatment options, going from the least to the most invasive include:
- Hydroquinone – A cream applied directly to the dark spot, hydroquinone blocks the production of melanin (which gives color to the skin).
- Retinoid Creams – These are derived from Vitamin A. They can be purchased over-the-counter in lower concentrations. Higher concentrations are available by prescription only. To avoid problems, wear sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. Never use more retinoid cream or apply it more frequently than directed by your physician or the packaging instructions. Call your doctor if you experience skin irritation.
- Corticosteroid Creams – These steroid creams are effective in causing some melasma (dark spots) to fade, especially when used together with other topical agents. Because they can cause side effects, they should only be used under a physician’s supervision.
- Superficial Microdermabrasion – This treatment exfoliates or removes the top layers of skin. Microdermabrasion typically does not require needles or anesthetics. It is considered painless. Some have compared the feeling to a cat licking their face. Multiple treatments combined with sun avoidance, sunscreen, and other skin care creams yield the best results.
- Laser Skin Resurfacing – Lasers have been used for decades to treat hyperpigmentation. Ablative lasers in the hands of a skilled physician can remove brown spots even from deeper layers of skin. Non-ablative lasers, which do not damage skin cells, can remove excess pigment from upper skin layers. Laser treatments, effective as they are, can cause pain. They can also cause dark spots or white spots to appear. This limits their effectiveness for Latinas and others with darker complexions.
- Micro Needling – Also known as Collagen Induction Therapy, microneedling uses tiny needles to create microscopic injuries to the skin. This increases production of collagen and can result in a significant reduction in hyperpigmentation, acne scarring and other lesions. It can also increase absorption of new topical agents that can lighten skin, such as Rucinol and Sophora Alpha. Since it doesn’t produce heat, microneedling is safer in all skin types.
The best treatment option for Latinas – PicoSure
PicoSure is a state-of-the-art treatment in reducing or eliminating brown spots, acne scars as well as fine lines & wrinkles in a variety of complexions – including the darker tones of many Latinas.
PicoSure has been called “the most versatile short-pulse laser in the world, allowing it to treat a wide variety of pigment conditions as well as acne scars and wrinkles.” It delivers a laser burst just trillionths of a second long. This creates a tiny shockwave that gently disrupts particles that cause freckles, age spots, brown spots and other skin discoloration.
Other treatments reduce symptoms of hyperpigmentation, but not the underlying cause. But PicoSure actually gets to the root cause of the problem. After its tiny shockwave disrupts the particles responsible for skin discoloration, your immune system will clear them away. Results are seen after 3-4 sessions that last about 15 minutes each.
PicoSure has virtually no downtime and almost none of the pain associated with CO2 laser treatments. It feels like a mild sunburn. Discomfort quickly fades away. You can go back to work immediately. Results are often seen right after treatment and will continue to improve.
The treated area will often appear pink for a few hours. It’s important to wear sunscreen, avoid sun exposure as well as tanning beds for up to a week after treatment to avoid causing the very hyperpigmentation (brown spots) the treatment has eliminated.
Are you a candidate for the best treatment now available?
Many people are candidates for PicoSure. But a board certified facial plastic surgeon or cosmetic dermatologist that is well-versed in this treatment can tell you for sure. In Inland Empire, California you can visit us at STC Plastic Surgery for a free consultation.
Latinas, African-Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Americans as well as those with Mediterranean or darker complexions no longer have to endure the embarrassment of brown spots and other types of hyperpigmentation. PicoSure really is the best treatment for these problems – in any type of complexion.