Peeling off unsightly brown patches

lifestyle June 29, 2017 01:00

By Dr. Thanisorn Thamlikitkul, MD
Special to The Nation

ASK teenagers about their greatest skin concerns and acne will certainly be at the top of the list. By the age of 40, that acne has usually shifted and wrinkles are a common complaint.



Yet surprisingly 70 per cent of the patients who consult me do so to correct skin condition called melasma.

Melasma is a common skin problem. It causes brown to gray-brown patches, usually on the face. Most people get melasma on their cheeks, the part of the face that is most easily exposed to the sun. Patients who have naturally brown or dark skin are predisposed to melasma and they are often desperate to clear their skin. 

Melasma treatment ranges from a variety of easily applied topical hypopigmenting agents, peeling and lasers.

The good news for those seeking a gentler, more wallet-friendly approach to the problem might be the current laser peel, which focuses on the non-ablative, fractional and cold mode technology, thus resulting in no downtime and more favourable results.

The laser peel is a medical method that helps increase cell turnover and speeds the transit of the unwanted pigment out of the skin. It minimizes dark patches. A thorough sloughing offers smoother and more radiant skin. Topical agents and vitamins also perform better after a peel because there are no dead cells impeding their absorption into the inner layer of the skin.

The newer laser peel uses an appropriate pulse duration, and also takes the heat out for a comfortable treatment that is safe for all skin types with little or no-downtime. Furthermore, an advantage of the non-ablative fractional technology is that immediately following the treatment, the inner layer skin remains intact, this protecting the skin from infection and speeding the superficial peel. Only in the 12 to 72 hours after treatment, when recovery has already started, does the dead top layer with excess melanin begin to peel off.

During the treatment, a patient will feel only mild discomfort. There will be some pinkness for about an hour and dryness that lasts about a day. SPF should be worn on the treated area to avoid excessive sun exposure. The frequency of peels depends on how much pigment an individual patient has. When more pronounced results are desired, a combination of laser treatments might be necessary.