According to the American Academy of Dermatology, an estimated six million people in the United States alone suffer from melasma—a patchy, symmetric tan or brown discoloration of the face that can be marked with persistent cycles of clearing and recurrence—making it a very frustrating skin condition to manage; 90% of those afflicted are women, due to the influence of estrogen. (1) In response, Tampa Bay cosmetic facility Skinspirations has introduced an evidence-based and staff-tested melasma treatment protocol which utilizes the new RevLite SI laser from Cynosure, a leading developer and manufacturer of light-based aesthetic and medical treatment systems. Skinspirations’ three-month, three-step program helps those with the unwanted skin condition banish unsightly skin discoloration.
Melasma, a subset of hyperpigmentation, typically appears on the forehead, cheeks, upper lip and chin. Melasma can also appear on the forearms and neck. People with darker skin—such as those of Hispanic, African-American, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean descent—are more prone to experiencing melasma; having a relative with the condition also puts one more at risk for the condition. (2)
In contrast to “typical age spots” that become visible around the late 30s to early 40s, melasma usually appears much earlier, (3) presenting a potential and worrisome complication for young women in their prime, according to Skinspirations owner Cynthia Elliott, M.D.: “Melasma differs from other forms of hyperpigmentation, in that the discoloration often affects younger women with estrogen levels at their peak; the solution is treatment at the first sign of pigmentation, and prevention to hinder future flare-ups.”
In order to effectively treat melasma and maintain long-term results, the treatment must both suppress the production of skin pigment (melanin) and remove excess pigment and pigment granules already present in the skin, both in the epidermis (top layer) and dermis (deep layer). Dr. Elliott cautions against trying at-home remedies to treat melasma, as they may aggravate the skin and make the condition worse.
Skinspirations’ three-step melasma treatment program combines professional office treatments with at-home skin care. This safe, simple and highly effective program has shown results after just one treatment. The process is broken down into the following steps:
1. Microdermabrasion—A professional mechanical exfoliation treatment gently removes surface pigment as well as dull, dry skin cells, to reveal smoother skin.
2. Cynosure RevLite SI laser Treatment—This step is performed immediately following microdermabrasion. The RevLite emits light in short, rapid pulses, targeting pigment molecules without causing any damage to the surrounding skin. As light shatters the pigment, the discolored patch may turn gray or white for a few minutes, as the skin absorbs the energy. The impact of the laser can feel like a snap of a thin rubber band. To maximize patient comfort, the area can be numbed with topical anesthetic approximately 30 minutes prior to treatment, although this step is not necessary. Post-treatment discomfort can feel similar to a mild sunburn, and any redness will dissipate within a day. The RevLite delivers more power to treat stubborn pigment, and has also been shown to be effective in the removal of multicolored tattoos.
3. Customized At-Home Skin Care Treatment—Customized products are provided, including high-quality, broad-spectrum sunscreen, topical Vitamin C (for its skin-lightening, collagen-stimulating and free radical neutralizing/antioxidant properties), Retinoid (to inhibit new pigment formation, enhance the penetration of skincare products, and speed skin cell turnover, reducing discoloration), and prescription strength 4% hydroquinone (skin lightener).
To prevent melasma, Dr. Elliott recommends minimizing sun exposure, as sunlight is a controllable trigger for melasma. Dr. Elliott stresses the importance of wearing sunscreen—even on cloudy days—and covering up the skin with protective clothing. A wide-brimmed hat and large sunglasses are simple and effective approaches to mitigating harmful damage from the sun.
Cynthia Elliott, M.D., is the board-certified owner of Skinspirations, located in Clearwater, Florida. Dr. Elliott obtained her M.D. from the University of Illinois College of Medicine, and then completed her residency in Emergency Medicine at Denver General Hospital and the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. She has been on staff at Bayfront Medical Center, St. Joseph’s Hospital, University Community Hospital and Mease Countryside Hospital, and has served on the faculty of the USF School of Medicine. Dr. Elliott currently serves as an expert witness in Cosmetic Medicine for the Florida Board of Medicine. Her company, ExpertEsthetics, provides hands on technique training for other practitioners. Dr. Elliott is also a national and international trainer for Cutera Lasers, training other physicians in the use of aesthetic lasers on skin of all colors. Skinspirations specializes exclusively in rejuvenation, enhancement and anti-aging treatments for the face and body. With her staff of aesthetic experts, you know you’ll get the best results obtainable. Dr. Elliott has been in practice for over 20 years, and has the experience and reputation to have been chosen by the makers of Botox® Cosmetic and Juvederm to train other physicians and practitioners in her techniques. For more information, visit http://www.skinspirations.com.
1. “Tips for Treating Melasma.” Skin Inc. Magazine, 25 Sept. 2013. Web. 7 Jan. 2015. skininc.com/treatments/facial/Tips-for-Treating-Melasma-225202192.html?utm_source=Related%2BItems&utm_medium=website&utm_campaign=Related%2BItems.
2. “Melasma: Who Gets and Causes.” American Academy of Dermatology, 2014. Web. 7 Jan. 2015. aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/m—p/melasma/who-gets-causes.
3. Baumann, Leslie. “A Closer Look at Melasma.” N.p., 8 July 2014. Web. 7 Jan. 2015. miamiherald.com/living/health-fitness/skin-deep/article1974543.html.