Melasma is a skin condition which appears as tan or darkly colored spots on the skin’s surface. Melasma is also known as chloasma and the “mask of pregnancy.” It is more common in women, but can also occur in men. Melasma is most commonly seen on the skin of women with light brown skin, especially when they are pregnant or using hormones, such as contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy. The condition is associated with the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone, and those living in sun exposed parts of the world seem to be more susceptible. Melasma tends to appear on sun exposed parts of the body, such as forehead, nose, cheeks, eyelids, and upper lips. Genetic predisposition also increases the likelihood of developing melasma. It is prevalent on the forearms of men and women of North American descent, and on the faces of men and women of German/Russian and Jewish descent.
The only symptom of melasma is skin discoloration, and it does not cause any further medical complications; however, many people find that the discoloration detracts from their physical appearance, and thus seek ways of reducing or removing the discoloration. Older approaches focused on topical solutions for lightening melasma spots, but recently laser treatments have become a popular way of removing melasma discoloration from the skin. Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank offers two types of laser treatments in his practice to reduce the appearance of melasma. The Fraxel® Thulium™ Wavelength laser is the latest advancement in the treatment of dark spots on the skin, such as melasma. This laser can be used alone to treat just the darkened areas, or combined with other Fraxel laser treatments to provide overall facial rejuvenation. Dr. Frank also offers the Clear and Brilliant treatment, which utilizes a gentle laser to repair damaged and aged skin to reduce discoloration and provide overall rejuvenation. Both procedures utilize lasers that do not create open wounds on the skin and are associated with minimal downtime after the treatment.
Laser treatments for melasma work by targeting the darkly pigmented spots below the skin. The light in the laser is absorbed by the areas of darker pigmentation, thus destroying and breaking up that pigmentation beneath the skin so it can be safely reabsorbed by the body. Although older laser treatments were painful and invasive procedures, the more recent laser technologies do not have the same level of invasiveness or longer recovery period. Depending on your tolerance to pain, Dr. Frank can use a topical anesthetic or pain medication to make the procedure more comfortable. The appearance of melasma on the skin can be drastically reduced after just a few treatments. By consulting with Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, you can gain an understanding of how long it will take to rid your skin of the troublesome discolorations so that you can enjoy clear, radiant skin once again.