Pigmentation

Pigmentation Treatment
in VILLANOVA & COLLEGEVILLE

Normal pigmentation in the skin is caused by a diffuse, even, distribution of cells called melanocytes. When these cells group together in a large quantity they cause visible brown spots. We are born with perfect skin, and perfectly distributed melanocytes, but life takes its toll on skin. Although these changes can be alarming, they are not often dangerous. The vast majority of new spots or patches of color you see develop on your skin as you age are completely benign, but there is a chance that any new pigmented lesion can be dangerous, so it is always best to have a professional take a peek at new or changing spots. Benign or not, there may be a way to treat your pigmentation issue if you wish.

Irregular pigmentation can show up in multiple forms. It can appear in either discrete spots or in more diffuse patches. It can be transient or permanent. It can be flush to the skin or appear in raised papules. There are even occurrences of hypopigmentation when spots or patches of skin are left without full or any pigmentation. No matter the appearance of the irregular pigmentation, it is likely that the dermatology specialists at Bryn Mawr Dermatology will be able to diagnose and treat what ails you.

What are my options?

The team at Bryn Mawr Dermatology provides medical dermatology to evaluate and treat many pigmentation disorders, and in the case that there is no underlying cause that can be remedied, can suggest cosmetic dermatology to improve pigmentation concerns.

For Pigmentation treatments in Villanova or Collegeville, contact our dermatologists today at 610.525.7800!

TYPES OF PIGMENTATION CHANGES

Hyperpigmentation

UV exposure over time is the most likely culprit for pigmentation changes. This occurs with everyday exposure to the sun; even if you’ve never gotten a sunburn your UV exposure accumulates every time you sit by a window, drive your car or take a walk. It also occurs when you expose yourself to sunlamps and tanning beds. In this scenario you are accelerating the UV damage to your skin at an alarming rate, which is why any dermatologist worth his salt would recommend staying far away from artificial tanning (unless it’s the temporary, spray or rub-on kind). The most common changes that occur due to UV exposure are:

Commonly known as freckles, and appear scattered over your most commonly sun-exposed areas

Also called age or liver spots; and appear as waxy, raised age spots that often appear during middle age on

Better known as moles, and can be discrete macules (flat) or papules (raised)

Newly healing skin that is exposed to UV has a likelihood of accumulating melanin

Hypopigmentation

The decrease or total lack of melanin in the skin, in discrete spots or patches, or even over the entirety of the body- is a condition that is seen less commonly. A few of the diagnoses that we see and treat in that have symptoms of hypopigmentation are:

A commonly acquired condition that appears as flat white spots most commonly found on sun-exposed skin

A common, curable, fungal infection that interferes with the normal pigmentation of the skin, common on the trunk and shoulders

a rash that starts with pink/red scaly patches and evolves into lightly pigmented scaly patches at it heals

Less Common Types of Pigmentation Changes

The total absences of melanin in the skin and hair

A condition where the skin loses 100% of its melanin in discrete patches

A condition that causes a white patch or patches to appear in a person’s hair

Diagnosing and Treating Melasma

One of the most common occurrences of aggregated skin pigment that we see is called melasma. This is often referred to as “the mask of pregnancy” and can occur secondary to hormonal changes to women who are or have recently been pregnant. It can also occur in men and women at any stage of life, although less frequently. It appears as symmetrical patches of darkened skin on the face. It is flush to the skin and is not associated with any sensation like itching or burning. Exposure to UV exaggerates the pigmentation so it often appears less noticeable in the winter and worse when you have had a lot of accumulated sun. Melasma will often resolve on its own, when the hormonal changes resolve, but it is often a more permanent issue that requires treatment to manage.

WHAT CAUSES UNEVEN SKIN PIGMENTATION?

There is no one cause of issues that cause soft tissue to appear lighter or darker than what would otherwise be considered healthy. Common causes of discoloration include:

  • Pregnancy/Hormones
  • Adrenal gland dysfunction
  • Sunlight exposure
  • Genetics
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Trauma to the skin (scaring)

Patients of all ages and all lifestyles can be affected by skin pigmentation problems, whether you diligently apply sunscreen and have a meticulous skin care routine, or you’ve suffered injuries and have a pre-disposition for dark spots. Any area of the skin that looks darkened or lightened, compared to surrounding, healthy tissue can be considered a cosmetic skin problem. These can include melasma, age spots, sun damage, and even freckles or spots leftover from long healed traumas.

TREATMENT FOR SKIN PIGMENTATION PROBLEMS

Because the causes of pigmentation problems are widely varied, treatment is flexible and designed to meet your needs. Our dermatologists understand our patients have busy lives and schedules, which is why we offer cosmetic procedures that come with little to no downtime while creating beautiful results.

Mild discoloration can often be alleviated by sloughing off dead and discolored cells on the surface of the skin. Bryn Mawr Dermatology offers exfoliating treatments which do just that, while they encourage cell turnover, create collagen remodeling, and allow your skin to look fresh and youthful. There are no chemicals used in this treatment, which makes it effective for patients with many skin types. Ask our team about microdermabrasion to reveal a bright and even skin tone.

 

Learn more about Microdermabrasion.

Chemical peels can be provided with varying levels of the active ingredient, whether you’re looking for a mild or deep peel. After the solution is applied and removed, patients will notice the dull and discolored skin on the surface of tissue peeling away over time. This helps to lighten and eliminate dark spots on your skin, and reveal the even, healthy complexion underneath. Patients with moderate pigmentation issues may want to consider a medium or deep peel to effectively slough away discolored tissue.

 

Learn more about Peels and Facials.

Another effective method of revealing smooth and healthy skin is light therapy. Intense pulsed light (IPL) creates balance in skin tone by using visible light energy to target and destroy the cells that produce excess color in the skin (melanocytes). This non-ablative treatment bypasses the topmost layer of skin and focuses on breaking up the dark marks which your body then sloughs off. IPL is best suited to treat large areas that have scattered hyperpigmentation (think freckling all over your shoulders or cheeks) and because it is non-invasive and requires minimal downtime a series of treatments is recommended to see maximal results.

 

The ND:YAG laser works in a similar fashion as IPL, by using light energy converted into heat energy to identify and eliminate the cause of darkly pigmented spots. The big difference is that ND:YAG uses infrared (non-visible) light and is substantially more powerful. Because of the intensity this laser can bring, it is most appropriate for treating well-defined brown spots that are deeper in the skin and stubbornly refuse other types of pigment treatment. Bryn Mawr Dermatology is proud to have both the IPL and ND:YAG laser on premises in order to customize your way to flawless skin.

 

Regardless of how brown spots appeared and what caused them, Bryn Mawr Dermatology offers many cosmetic skin care solutions to help you feel your best. Our entire team is highly trained in dermatological procedures and can recommend a treatment plan that creates the smooth, even skin you have always wanted.

 

Learn more about Laser and Light Procedures.

The first line of offense against hyperpigmentation is often prescription medication. There are a variety of topical creams that can help to decrease excess pigmentation and increase skin cell turnover for a return to normally pigmented skin. We dispense a compounded prescription called “Fade Cream” out of our in-house pharmacy that combines three active ingredients that work together to eliminate hyperpigmentation. It is similar to a commercially available prescription called TRI-LUMA cream that can cost upwards of $500. Dr. Stanko decided that we would take the active ingredients in this highly-effective but expensive medication: tretinoin (a retinoid that increases skin cell turnover), hydroquinone (a melanin synthesis inhibitor), and hydrocortisone (a soothing steroid), and offer it to our patients with an enhancing ingredient of our own: Kojic Acid at the reasonable price of $66.

 

The other recommendation for keeping skin a uniform shade is constant use of a high-quality sunscreen. Come into our office to try out one of the dozens of options we have or check them out on our store to find your perfect sun protection match.

Skin Pigmentation Treatment
IN VILLANOVA & COLLEGEVILLE

Our goal is to help you look and feel great. You can depend on our dermatologists, licensed aestheticians, and experienced staff to provide care that resolves age spots, sun spots, hyperpigmentation, melasma, and various other skin discolorations that make your complexion look blotchy and uneven. It all starts with a consultation at either our Collegeville or Villanova dermatology offices.

Get started today by calling our dermatology team at 610.525.7800 or easily book an appointment by clicking the Schedule Now button at the top of the page. We look forward to caring for you!