Melasma is a skin condition that results from abnormal skin pigmentation in a classic mask pattern across the cheeks, nose, and upper lip. Melasma is often referred to as the “mask of pregnancy” because it is so hormonally sensitive that pregnancy control is a common trigger. Likewise, birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy can also aggravate melasma, and it is well known that it is exquisitely sensitive to sun exposure. The disorder most commonly appears in women who are in their 30’s, but can occur at almost any other age, younger or older.
Why Is Melasma So Hard to Treat?
Melasma can be incredibly difficult to treat because there are so many factors involved, and not all of these factors can be controlled all the time. Some factors such as sun exposure and the use of birth control cannot always be minimized depending on a woman’s lifestyle. In addition, melasma is also found in varying degrees of severity depending on your genetic predisposition. Cases in which the pigmentation is only found in the most superficial layers of the skin are much more responsive to standard treatments than cases where the pigmentation extends into deeper skin layers. Regardless of the severity of the condition, melasma usually responds best to treatment protocols that attack the problem from all possible routes rather than bouncing back and forth through a never ending series of individual treatments. The most common treatment failures that we see in consultation for a second opinion are those that were treated with only creams or pills by another doctor without incorporating any form of laser therapy. Laser treatments are almost universally necessary to treat even the most mild forms of melasma, and therefore fractional, non-ablative laser therapy sessions are one of the cornerstones of our Melasma Treatment Triad™.
What Is the MAS Melasma Treatment Triad™?
The MAS Melasma Treatment Triad is the only way we treat melasma in our practice. It is a specific combination of treatments and products that is designed to treat even the most severe forms of melasma to get the best results in the shortest amount of time. Our treatment protocol is far more effective than any individual treatment or product used by itself, and is far less confusing than the myriad of other regimens available.
The MAS Melasma Treatment Triad™ includes:
- Zinc Oxide Sunscreen: It is absolutely imperative that melasma patients use a high quality clinical sunscreen every single day, even when not directly exposed to the sun. A single brief period of unprotected sun exposure will cause a melasma flare, and can ruin months of expensive treatments. The product we use is a clinical formulation that includes excellent UVA and UVB coverage, goes on clear, and is light and comfortable enough to wear under makeup.
- Nonablative Laser Therapy: Every 2-3 weeks you’ll receive a 15-minute treatment with a fractional laser designed to break up the deepest melasma pigments. The treatment is nearly painless and there is essentially no downtime. This 1540nm laser should not be confused with IPL, which is no longer a recommended form of treatment for melasma, but is still commonly offered at media-spas and by inexperienced practitioners. Laser therapy is the single most important step in treating moderate to severe cases of melasma, and is ironically also one of the most overlooked therapies.
- Topical Hyperpigmentation Therapy: We offer three different topical hyperpigmentation agents for each of the three grades of melasma: mild, moderate, and severe. Every case of melasma is different, and we believe in matching the hyperpigmentation product to the patient rather than using the same product for everyone. For melasma patients who are interested in accelerating their treatment results, we also offer a Skin Brightening formulation that involves a one-month course of oral hyperpigmentation therapy. Since some patients may not want to take a pill every day, this is not a standard part of the Triad, but is always available those anyone who is interested.
How Can I Get More Information about laser treatments for melasma?
Dr. Nicholas Vendemia performs melasma treatments for people in the New York metro area. We encourage you to contact us online or give Manhattan Aesthetic Surgery a call at 917-703-7069 to schedule a visit. Dr. Vendemia is a leading cosmetic surgeon in New York City with a reputation for custom care and beautiful results.