Published: Aug 29, 2021
IPL for Melasma: Benefits and Contradictions
Do you suffer from dark blotches on your upper lip, forehead, chin, or cheeks? Have you struggled with these trouble areas for a while?
If so, you may have melasma.
Melasma is a skin condition that results in an increase of pigmentation in the skin. It affects patches around the cheeks, bridge of the nose, chin, forehead, and upper lip. These patches can range from gray to dark brown.
If left untreated, melasma can worsen over time.
The good news is, there are safe and effective treatments for melasma. You can do many of these treatments, including IPL for melasma, from your own home.
Keep reading to learn more about this common skin condition and how you can find solutions for dark spots.
What are the Causes of Melasma?
It is unknown exactly what causes melasma.
What we do know is that melasma is a reaction in the color-making cells in the skin. It occurs most often in women and in people with darker skin tones. Certain conditions spur the response to begin.
One of the most common triggers for melasma is sun exposure. Ultra-violet (UV) light from the sun activates melanocytes in the skin. The UV light causes the cells to make too much color. This leads to hyperpigmentation.
Pregnancy is another leading cause of melasma. When a pregnant woman experiences melasma, it is called chloasma, or the "mask of pregnancy."
In this form of melasma, the hormone changes in pregnancy spark hyperpigmentation. Other hormonal shifts, such as those caused by oral contraceptive pills or hormone replacement therapy, can also trigger melasma.
If melasma is present, certain conditions can exacerbate it. Sun exposure will make it worse, and so will some skincare products. If a product irritates your skin, your melasma will worsen.
IPL and Melasma
One of the most recommended melasma treatment options is IPL or intense pulsed light.
IPL, also called a photofacial, is a procedure that sends beams of light into your skin. It penetrates into the second layer of the skin without harming the first layer. The pigment cells in your skin absorb the light, destroying the unwanted pigment.
IPL is sometimes called a laser treatment, but it is essential to understand that IPL is not an actual laser.
Lasers target specific areas on the skin with one direct beam. IPL uses many wavelengths of light that are not concentrated into a single beam. Instead, it targets a larger area with light.
The broad spectrum of the IPL laser heats up the skin and the melanin within the skin. As a result, it can cause burns in darker skin if not done carefully.
In fact, it can sometimes worsen melasma by stimulating the pigmentation patches on your skin. This makes them darker.
IPL is a safe and effective treatment when performed by a trained expert provider. At-home treatment IPL machines are also a safe and effective option.
IPL works best when included in a plan combined with other treatments as well.
Benefits of IPL for Melasma
Despite the risk, there are still many benefits of IPL for melasma if included in a proper treatment plan.
Your first step should always be to ensure you have the correct diagnosis. You must have your skin assessed by a dermatologist. Other skin conditions, including skin cancer, can be mistaken for melasma.
Once you have a diagnosis, your dermatologist or skin care provider can help you choose an appropriate treatment plan. Most plans include a combination of approaches.
The first steps for effective treatment of melasma should include the elimination of risk factors. Wear sunscreen and protective clothing to reduce sun exposure. Discuss changes to triggering medications if necessary.
A multi-faceted approach is the best way to tackle this stubborn skin condition. Treatment options may include prescriptions such as oral medications and topical creams.
Layering on targeted procedures may make melasma therapy more effective. Methods can include treatment options such as microdermabrasion, laser treatments, or light treatment like IPL.
IPL is not a cure for melasma. Try not to have high expectations of a single IPL treatment. Skin improvement is a result of consistent treatment and dedication.
Contradictions about IPL Laser for Melasma
IPL is not the only specialty procedure for melasma. In fact, some argue that IPL is not the best choice of treatment.
Some skincare treatment plans may choose to use lasers instead.
The Picoway laser is often chosen to treat and manage melasma due to its unique picosecond speed. The Picoway delivers ultra-concentrated fast beams of energy. This breaks up the pigmentation into smaller pieces that the body can absorb and release.
If your provider decides IPL is suitable for you, there are other considerations to keep in mind.
At-home IPL options are available, but they may not be as effective. Also, long-term use can be costly. You will need many treatments to see accurate results.
IPL side effects are also possible.
Always keep a close watch on how your skin is progressing. Contact your dermatologist or provider right away if you notice adverse effects such as skin irritation, prolonged redness, or increased darkness.
Let's Clear It Up
We understand that melasma is frustrating. This common but confidence-busting skin condition can be tricky to treat. It can be long-lasting and can even reoccur if not appropriately maintained after treatment.
Luckily, Lumenessa is here to help you.
As part of a long-term treatment plan, at-home IPL can reduce your melasma and help keep relapses at bay. Ask your dermatologist or skin care provider if IPL for melasma is appropriate for you.
Lumenessa has many options to help you get your skin clear and keep it that way.
Contact us to learn more about our at-home IPL skin rejuvenation options.