Hyperpigmentation – from sun spots to freckles to melasma to acne marks – it happens and you’re definitely not alone. In fact, the removal of pigmented lesions is one of the most common requests we get here at GMA Clinic. So, can you actually remove unwanted pigment and achieve clear, glowing skin? The short answer is, absolutely. That is, with the “right” lasers and/or other medical aesthetic procedures to target and remove existing pigment and suppress melanin overproduction. Yes, the key is to commit to the right treatments that will work for you, which will depend on numerous factors and personal circumstances.

Read on if you are curious to find out what they are.

Wait, before we spill the beans, it’s important to get a better understanding of what you’re up against to make the most informed decisions on hyperpigmentation treatment and management.

What is Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is a broad term that is used to describe a common skin condition in which certain areas of your skin appear darker than normal surrounding skin. Many of us are guilty of using the umbrella term “sun spots” to refer to various forms of hyperpigmentation. In reality though, there are numerous types of hyperpigmentation, each with their own distinct characteristics; sun spots (aka solar lentigos) are just one type of hyperpigmentation.

What Causes Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation usually occurs when your pigment producing skin cells known as melanocytes are triggered from one or more factors, become hyperactive and overproduce melanin in the skin. Hyperpigmentation may also arise from an increased number and collection of melanocytes along the epidermal basal layer. The melanocytes essentially become hyperplastic, meaning they grow larger and tend to clump together, forming the appearance of dark spots. Though sun damage is usually a primary factor for causing melanocytes to go into overdrive, it may also be due to other intrinsic and extrinsic factors such as hormonal influences, genetic traits, skin injury or systemic conditions.

 

Step 1: Diagnose the Hyperpigmentation

Different causes and types of hyperpigmentation have their own distinct characteristics and therefore require specific treatments for best results. For example, melasma is usually related to hormonal imbalances as may be the case during a patient’s pregnancy and tend to worsen with sun exposure. Melasma typically requires long term management and a combination of treatments to not only lift the existing pigmented lesions but also suppress melanin overproduction in order to maintain results. On the other hand, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is due to skin injury and trauma such as from deeper acne lesions. These forms of pigmented lesions are usually not permanent but may take up to a few months or even years to fade on its own. Specific treatments will be beneficial to expedite the recovery process and elimination of PIH.

Knowing the causes and the types of hyperpigmentation you are dealing with will help us determine the most suitable and effective treatment plan. Other important considerations include the size, depth, and location of the pigmented lesions, your underlying skin type, and other variables.

Now, time to spill the beans:

Top 4 Hyperpigmentation Treatments at GMA:

PicoSure Pro Laser

What is it?

PicoSure Pro is a powerful laser that delivers 755nm energy in picoseconds for optimal treatment of pigmentation and skin revitalization. It treats unwanted pigment, wrinkles, acne scars and enlarged pores and stimulates collagen and elastin production. As the upgraded and enhanced version of the PicoSure, it offers even better and faster results, with very little to no downtime.

How does it work on hyperpigmentation?

At its specialized 755nm wavelength, PicoSure Pro effectively targets and eliminates different types of hyperpigmentation at various depths of the skin,  including sun spots, melasma, nevus of Ota, Hori’s nevus, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. In fact, it is the first FDA-approved picosecond laser for the treatment of melasma, Hori’s Macules, and Nevus of Ota. 

PicoSure Pro uses primarily photomechanical action and delivers ultrashort picosecond pulses of energy. Energy is delivered so quickly that it spares the skin from high thermal damage, while optimally targeting and shattering unwanted pigment into tiny sand particles to ease its removal by the body. This is a very different approach compared to traditional lasers, which use photothermal action, relying solely on heat to break up the unwanted pigment. Less heat and thermal damage make it a safe and effective treatment, even for darker skin types.

Yellobeam Laser

What is it?

Yellowbeam is the world’s first pure yellow skin rejuvenation laser with a unique 577nm wavelength that is clinically proven to remove both unwanted vascular lesions and pigmented lesions. It treats a wide variety of indications including broken capillaries, rosacea, solar lentigos, melasma and more. In other words, by targeting both redness and pigment in the skin at the same time, we can expect to achieve more with less. 

How does it work on hyperpigmentation?

The Yellowbeam laser treats different types of pigmented lesions including solar lentigos, freckles melasma, post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, freckles, benign moles, skin tags and seborrheic keratoses. 

As a yellow laser with a 577nm wavelength, it provides the best absorption in blood, making it highly effective at treating blood vessels. This is very important because majority of visible pigmented lesions are rooted in a deeper vascular network of veins. Not addressing deeper vascular lesions can result in recurrence of pigmented lesions. This is how the Yellowbeam differentiates from other lasers when it comes to clearing pigment; its unique wavelength allows it to remove both vascular lesions as well as pigmented lesions for optimal, more enduring results.   

Compared to the PicoSure Pro, the Yellowbeam covers pigmented lesions that are located more superficially in the skin. An integration of these lasers may be beneficial to clear various forms and depths of hyperpigmentation with a higher success rate.  

Clear + Brilliant Laser

What is it? Clear + Brilliant (CB) is a gentle, skin resurfacing laser that uses fractional laser technology to prevent and reverse the visible signs of aging. It is highly effective for minimising the appearance of fine lines, enlarged pores, acne scars and evening out skin tone and texture.    It is a non-invasive treatment that results in very little downtime and can safely treat up to skin type 6.

How does it work on hyperpigmentation?

The Clear + Brilliant laser works by resurfacing the upper layers of the skin. It creates millions of microscopic treatment zones that activate the body’s natural repair response and stimulate collagen production. This process lifts and replaces old, damaged skin that may be more pigmented with healthy tissue that appears younger, smoother and more even-toned.  In other words, unlike PicoSure Pro and Yellowbeam which target melanin more directly, the Clear + Brilliant reduces hyperpigmentation by facilitating an exfoliation process that eliminates pigmented skin cells. It is also important to note that the laser energy delivered by Clear + Brilliant is absorbed by the water, as opposed to melanin in the skin, making it safe and suitable for all skin types and tones.

Cosmelan Peel System

What is it?

The Cosmelan Peel System is a professional depigmentation system that uses active ingredients to lift pigmented skin cells and regulate the production of melanin to help prevent reappearance of dark spots and appearance of new spots. It works on various forms of hyperpigmentation caused by one or factors including sun exposure, inflammation, hormonal influences, exposure to chemical, photosensitizing medication, aging and genetic tendency. 

How does it work on hyperpigmentation?

Pigment production is an ongoing process and the tendency to develop unwanted pigment represents an ongoing risk, especially if it is related to certain intrinsic factors such as hormonal influences, as is the case with melasma. The great part about Cosmelan is that it doesn’t just remove existing pigment, but also suppresses irregular melanin overproduction which helps to maintain results.  For this reason, The Cosmelan Peel System can work exceptionally well when integrated with lasers to more effectively treat and manage hyperpigmentation.  

While all of these treatments work to improve hyperpigmentation, they do so differently. How we integrate these procedures and treat the skin will be very case dependent, as every skin is unique and we treat it as such. The first step is to book a complimentary consultation with one of our skin experts to get a customized treatment plan for your skin concerns.