There are many conditions that can cause hyperpigmentation, or the darkening of a patch or patches of skin. Laser treatments are an ever-growing field of dermatological solutions that can address unwanted pigmentation of the skin.
One of the first issues with properly diagnosing hyperpigmentation or determining its underlying causes is the sheer amount of different factors that can lead to it. Hyperpigmentation is the broad name for any condition that causes skin to darken. Generally speaking, hyperpigmentation is caused by an excessive amount of melanocytes accumulating in the skin. These melanocytes create melanin, which in turn gives skin a dark, brown appearance. On people with fair skin, the difference can be very stark. Freckles and birthmarks are a common example of pigmentation issues that most people are unconcerned with. Both freckles and birthmarks rarely become skin cancer, but both can develop or intensify as a result of ultraviolet light exposure. In summer, many pigmentation issues are made worse by sunlight. Freckles will likely fade as the summer does, though it’s still very important to wear sunscreen and stay protected. Moles, or nevi are more concerning examples of hyperpigmentation. Though many moles are harmless, they can develop into or actually be melanoma, a fast moving type of skin cancer that can be deadly. Treating melanoma early is critical, so if you develop a new mole or notice one changing, do not hesitate to contact your dermatologist.
Melasma is a condition that is characterized by dark patches of skin on the upper body, like the face, neck, chest, or arms. The dark patches are often either dark brown or a dark gray color. Melasma is chiefly a result of sun damage. There are a number of genetic factors that make a person more prone to developing melasma, but it’s more common in women, especially those undergoing pregnancy or other hormonal changes.
Most instances of hyperpigmentation are merely cosmetic, but in rare cases they can mean something more. Whether you want to treat your specific case of unwanted pigmentation or not, it’s important to consult a dermatologist and make sure you’re properly diagnosed. If you are interested in clearing your unwanted pigmentation, you aren’t alone, and laser treatments might be your best bet.
Laser therapy has been used for years to treat a number of cosmetic skin conditions, and hyperpigmentation is no exception. Laser therapy uses, you guessed, it: a laser to destroy skin cells in a controlled setting. Given how precise and small a laser’s focus can be, they’re an excellent way to treat even the smallest spots, like freckles. The laser’s light can be tuned to automatically target and treat a number of spots with minimal human intervention, especially on people with fair skin. The laser uses the contrast of high melanin and low melanin to determine what spots to target and which to ignore. While lasers are great for small spots, they do just as well on larger melasma spots or age spots. The heat and energy of the laser is absorbed by the melanin, dispersing and harmlessly absorbing or deflecting. The super-heated skin cells may feel a slight sting or pinch, but the treatment is not a lot to endure. In many cases, your dermatologist will apply a topical numbing agent. You can usually get laser treatment of hyperpigmentation in one session, and head back to your daily routine without any downtime. For skin with a high number of spots (like freckles) treatment may take longer or need to be spread out over a few sessions. After some time, the destroyed melanin dissipates and skin is restored to its natural color.
Laser treatment for unwanted pigmentation is effective for a number of conditions and for all skin types. If you’re interested in exploring your options, call the pros at Northeast Dermatology associates and schedule your treatment!
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