Battle Of The Spots
No matter what the cause is, there’s a way to zap those spots away
A doctor’s guide to getting rid of pigmentation and dark spots
Pigmentation and dark spots can affect anyone at different stages in life. Dr YZ Tan of Mizu Aesthetic Clinic sheds light on its different causes and treatments
Q: I developed melasma after my pregnancy. What’s the best way of treating it, and can it be done while I’m still nursing my infant?
“Melasma caused by pregnancy, also known as the “pregnancy mask”, affects up to 50 per cent of pregnant women. There are a few ways of treating melasma after pregnancy, such as topical bleaching creams, chemical peels and laser procedures. Studies have shown the use of hydroquinone cream, a bleaching agent, does not appear to be associated with major risks during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, it is not encouraged by many doctors due to its higher absorption rate through the skin.
Lasers, such as the Pico laser or Q-switched laser, can be used to reduce melasma caused by pregnancy as they only target specific areas and does not affect the body systematically. Chemical peels can also be an option but is much more unpredictable in terms of side effects. The stronger ones cause peeling of the skin by damaging the skin initially. This initial damage is less predictable for chemical peels compared to lasers as it is harder to gauge the extent of the peeling for each person. When there is too much damage on the skin, hyperpigmentation can occur.”
Q: I’m worried about getting pigmentation now as I did plenty of outdoor sports while I was in my teens. Should I treat them once they appear or wait until most of the dark spots have surfaced?
“There is no ‘correct time’ to treat pigmentation due to prior sun exposure. Pigmentation is formed mainly at the basal layer of the skin, between the dermis and the epidermis. Treatment at the beginning can be mild, such as using a bleaching cream to lighten and prevent the build-up of the pigments. Skin damage due to UV rays can cause both dermal and epidermal pigmentation, and usually, the best treatment would be a combination of a topical bleaching agent, laser procedures and the use of topical sunscreen. When doing outdoor activities, make sure to have adequate sun protection, no matter your age.”
Q: Freckles run in my family but I would love to have an even skin tone. Can laser treatments get rid of freckles? A:
“Lasers can get rid of freckles, especially if they are superficial. There are two kinds of freckles, superficial and intraepidermal. Superficial freckles are much darker and distinct. These freckles, being more superficial, can be scabbed off by the ProYellow laser. One to two sessions are usually sufficient to get rid of superficial freckles. Intraepidermal freckles are slightly deeper and are lighter in colour. These can also be scabbed off by Pico laser, but would require more sessions. Skin redness is common for the first two days while mild scabbing can last around four days.”