What is Skin pigmentation?

Pigmentation is the discoloration or darkening of the skin that occurs when the melanin level in the skin becomes higher than usual. This phenomenon is usually common in older men and women. The discoloration is usually red, brown, pink, purple, etc., but it can also be black, making the area of pigmentation darker than the other parts of the skin. Most times, it remains dormant until the skin is exposed to direct sunlight for an extended period. The excess melanin can either occur in the epidermis layer of the skin or the deep dermis layer.

What causes pigmentation?

Even though the gene plays a great role in causing pigmentation, lifestyle or dietary habits can increase its probability. Dietary habits like excessive consumption of processed foods and lifestyle habits like smoking are examples. However, hormonal imbalances also play a substantial role in causing pigmentation, especially in pregnant women.

What is the effect of Hyperpigmentation?

Due to its external occurrence in the body, hyperpigmentation has been known to cause emotional and social stress in its victims. It also reduces the attractiveness of the skin and might cause discomfort in its host.

How can I prevent pigmentation?

As mentioned above, a healthy lifestyle plays a significant role in preventing Hyperpigmentation. Healthy food should be taken at all times. Unhealthy habits like smoking should be avoided. Furthermore, natural skincare products should be used; the skin should be protected from direct sunlight. In other words, too much skin exposure should be avoided.

What are the frequent types of pigmentation?

To treat Hyperpigmentation, it is necessary to recognize its kind of pigmentation.

  • Freckles: this is common amongst light skin people and is caused by constant exposure to direct sunlight, so it usually appears in summer and fades during winter. Freckles are dark skin spots that occur due to a long period of exposure to the sun.
  • Melasma: these are large brown patches with irregular borders that result from excess melanin deep within the dermis. Hence it is a type of pigmentation that occurs in this region. It is usually common in women and is most probably caused by increased hormones. The exact cause of Melasma is unknown.
  • Solar Lentigines: unlike Melasma pigmentation, these have regular borders and can occur in any body part. It is usually referred to as liver spots or sunspots. As the name implies, it is caused by exposure to UV rays from the sun or other sources. These types are extremely dangerous because they manifest into skin cancer and melanoma. Once Solar Lentigines are identified, it is important to check regularly with qualified dermatologists.
  • Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH): This is always caused by burns, injury, acne, friction, chemical peels, and skin abrasion. This type of Hyperpigmentation fades away with time, although it can come up again with time.

What are the classifications of pigmentation?

The different pigmentation classifications include Generalized, Localized, Hyperpigmentation, Hypopigmentation, Depigmentation, Congenital, and Acquired.

  • Generalized Hyperpigmentation: this kind of pigmentation is common in Addison’s disease patients and Hemochromatosis; when Addison’s disease is more prominent in scars, within the mouth, and in skin folds, and when Hemochromatosis is more prominent in genitals, skin folds, and sun-exposed skins. It also occurs in afamelanotide patients.
  • Localized pigmentation: this kind is not caused only by abnormal melanin; it also occurs due to deficiencies in hemosiderin or externally-derived pigment. It is easily recognized with thickened skin, pigmented purpura, skin cancers, and post-inflammatory pigmentation.
  • Congenital Hyperpigmentation: this occurs when melanin-producing melanocytes are located in the dermis. The gene transmits it; from the parent to the offspring.
  • Acquired pigmentation: these kinds develop during the patient’s life

How is Hyperpigmentation treated?

There are various methods for treating pigmentation defects, but only two will be discussed in this article, The Fraxel dual laser and the lutronic spectra method. Other methods include Alexandrite 755nm and Harmony XL Pro laser treatment.

Nano-second Laser

This method uses a Lutronic Spectra, a mild laser that uses nanosecond laser pulses to reduce skin pigmentation. It targets 5acne scarring, irregular pigments, and other irregularities.

How does a Nanosecond laser work?

The laser pulse penetrates the skin tissue, where it heats the melanin within the cells. As the body heals itself, the heated-up melanin is ejected. The laser pulse used in this method is mild on the skin; hence it is commonly used for Melasma.

Is there a particular wavelength used for the laser?

Yes, there is. Four different wavelengths are used. Namely, 532nm, 585nm, 650nm, and 1064nm, measured in nanoseconds.

How long does the Nanosecond Laser process take?

Twenty-five minutes is needed to apply the carbon, and 20 minutes is needed for the LS procedure. No Anaesthetics are required. The duration also depends on the area being treated.

How much is the laser procedure?

The price depends on the largeness of the area that will be treated and its deepness. However, the treatment costs range from $200 to 425 dollars.

Fraxel Dual

Commonly used for improving skin texture, this method is the safest because it leaves the skin intact. It improves the appearance of the skin after the operation because it stimulates collagen production (collagen improves the healing of cells and their rejuvenation). This method is extremely effective and fast because it targets 40% of the skin at the same time. Furthermore, it’s healing only takes four days.

What frequency does the Fraxel Dual Laser method operate in?

1550 and 1927, this frequency is used to target the epidermis and dermis layers of the skin. It can be used for all the various types of pigmentation.

How long does this process take?

Unlike the Lutronic Spectra method, which takes up to 50 minutes, this method only takes 20 minutes to complete. However, this time can vary depending on the affected area’s location, size, and condition.

How much is the Fraxel dual laser method?

Like LS, this is also determined by the skin’s condition. It is, however, safe to point out the range of $700 and $1000 per session. Up 4 to 6 sessions are required for optimum treatment within three weeks.

What are the benefits of using these two methods?

Well, fresher and younger skin is guaranteed. However, as expected, the texture and tone of the skin will be improved, and the fine lines around the eyes will be reduced. Of course, the brown pigments discolouring your face will be eliminated. However, it is important to point out the need for using moisturizer after treatment to remove the dry flakes that will ensue after the treatment.

About the Author

Kamal Alhallak, Ph.D. in Pharmacy, MBA

Dr. Alhallak has established himself as a leading figure in the field of cosmetics and aesthetics, notably in the Canadian healthcare industry. In 2016, he established the Albany Cosmetic and Laser Center, which offers patients cutting-edge procedures such as laser skin resurfacing, IPL photofacials, neurotoxic and dermal fillers, and more. Because of its mix of cutting-edge technology and individualised attention from Dr. Alhallak, the facility has become one of Alberta's most popular places for aesthetic care and laser research. Dr. Alhallak was designated one of the Top 100 Healthcare Leaders by the International Forum for Advancement in Healthcare (IFAH) in 2021.

You can order our book entitled “The Ultimate Guide for Laser and Ipl in the Aesthetic Field” from Springer website and Amazon. This Book is authored by the health professional team including: Dr. Kamal Alhallak, Dr. Salem Tomi, Dr. Adel Abdulhafid, R.N. Dima Omran.

Read our peer-reviewed published articles in prestigious scientific journals in the cosmetic field.