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When is hypopigmentation actually hyperpigmentation?

We often see patients who are concerned about hypopigmentation (light patches) on their skin, only to find that when we examine their skin closer, we find diffuse melasma (dark patches of skin) is the actual cause.

This occurs because the melasma covers a significant area of skin – typically on the face, neck or decolletage – so the non-melasma areas look very light, and are mistaken for skin that has lost its colour (hyperpigmentation).

Sometimes, patients have both hypo and hyper pigmentation, so when it comes to treatment, we must look at the different causes of both and the different treatment modalities available to improve the consistency of skin colour and tone.

When is hypopigmentation actually hyperpigmentation? - 1

before and after Fraxel laser treatment at the Sharp Clinic Brisbane

Hyperpigmentation is when the substance responsible for color, melanin has been overproduced sending the melanocytes into overdrive which results in uneven skin tone.

There are various causes including medications, hormonal changes and sun exposure.

Melasma is sits deep in the skin. It appears as dark brown patches usually found on the cheeks and forehead. It is common in women during pregnancy.

Hypopigmentation is the opposite of hyperpigmentation. It is when there is reduced pigment in the skin, and can occur from autoimmune disorders such as vitiligo, injuries, burns or trauma that happens to the skin.

Some skin colour irregularities can be reduced and prevented with:

  • A quality skincare routine that includes a pigment inhibitor
  • Reducing skin stressors/damage
  • Broad-spectrum sunscreen
  • Maintenance skin treatments such as LED and laser resurfacing

When treating skin discolouration we look at multiple solutions including Fraxel  laser, at home Synergie products, in clinic peels and lifestyle factors such as sun exposure.

When treating diffuse melasma, it can take multiple treatments – and ongoing maintenance – to get results. It’s important to be mindful of this when embarking upon treatment; it is not a magic bullet.

Once we address the pigmentation through the correct treatment, evening out the skin tone, in most cases the lighter areas of skin are not as obvious as it was the patients natural skin tone hiding underneath the dark pigment.

If you have any queries

To talk to Diane about your skin, book a complimentary consult by calling (07) 3202 4744.

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