Sun spots and melasma have much in common. Both are the body’s response to sun exposure in the melanin in the skin. Melanin darkens the skin in response to the sun damage. At the Laser Center of Maryland we use Fraxel laser treatments to effectively treat both skin issues.
What is melasma?
Melasma is known as the “mask of pregnancy.” It is characterized by a brown discoloration in the forehead, cheeks, jawline, or upper lip. It is a condition unique to women and usually accompanies pregnancy. Really, though, melasma is a result of the surging hormones present during pregnancy, and the condition can also occur during menopause, with the use of birth control pills, or when undergoing hormone replacement therapy.
Melasma shows itself on areas of the body that have received heavy sun exposure. There is also a genetic component to melasma. The condition in pregnant women usually resolves itself.
Sun spots are also the product of melanin doing its job to protect the skin. Technically known as “solar lentigines,” these spots are well-defined uniformly colored areas of brown or grayish pigment that generally occur on the hands, face, neck, and chest.
Fraxel to the rescue
At the Laser Center of Maryland, we use the Fraxel Restore Laser and the Fraxel Re:pair Laser to address melanin-related skin discoloration. The Fraxel lasers break the laser energy into thousands of microscopic laser beams (each is one-tenth the diameter of a human hair) and make pinpoint punctures in the skin. This doesn’t affect surrounding tissue. But the laser heat has two impacts: it breaks up the pigment creating dark spots, and it triggers a response in the body to grow new fibroblasts (the precursors to collagen, the skin’s support proteins).
Treatments take 45 to 60 minutes, but we apply a lidocaine cream 60 minutes before your session to numb your skin and keep you comfortable.
Recovery is minimal. You can return to work immediately, unless you opt to have more aggressive settings used with the lasers. Most people have a day or two of some redness and slight swelling on treatment areas. Your results continue to improve as the body removes the broken dark pigmented cells and builds new collagen.
Call us at 410-544-4600 if you want to do something about those darks spots on your skin.