Bat­tle Of The Spots

No mat­ter what the cause is, there’s a way to zap those spots away

Singapore Women's Weekly (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

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.”

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