Few skin conditions are more difficult to treat than melasma. Sometimes called the “pregnancy mask” because the skin discoloration often develops during pregnancy, melasma is a widespread condition that affects both women and men, although predominantly women. Most often treated with a combination of chemical peels and topical skincare products, we’ve found that melasma also responds well to microneedling at our London, Ontario dermatology practice.
What Is Melasma?
Melasma manifests as blotchy, dark patches on the forehead, cheeks, and nose which are triggered by a combination of hormones, light, and heat exposure. The chronic condition can flare up after spending the afternoon in the sun, following a workout at the gym, or reasons that are difficult to trace.
Treatments that often work to minimize discoloration—such as certain lasers—tend to worsen melasma because the heat generated by the procedure can stimulate the formation of additional pigment in the weeks after treatment. That’s why dermatologists confront melasma with gentle chemical peels and, more recently, microneedling procedures combined with creams that help fade the dark patches.
The condition is notoriously difficult to treat for several reasons. Melasma is often present both on the skin’s surface (the epidermis) and deeper skin layers. Additionally, so many factors can trigger melasma flare-ups that it’s difficult for patients to avoid all of them. Even if you’re strict about avoiding direct sunlight, fluctuating hormone levels can cause recurring issues with melasma.
How Can Microneedling Treat Melasma?
Microneedling without heat energy is a mechanical treatment that creates micro-channels in the skin, stimulating the body’s natural response to repair the tiny wounds. These controlled punctures penetrate to the skin’s dermis, which other treatments such as chemical peels leave untouched.
Microneedling’s popularity as a skin rejuvenation procedure stems from its ability to stimulate the production of new collagen. What’s more, the micro-channels efficiently absorb nourishing serums that enhance the skin’s appearance. This ability to funnel medications directly through these channels to treat melasma is what sets it apart from other procedures used to minimize the condition.
Those medications include highly concentrated prescription agents, including tranexamic acid (TXA), glutathione, vitamin C, and niacinamide. Tranexamic acid, a synthetic version of an essential amino acid, shows particular promise as a melasma treatment because recent studies show it may prevent dark spots from emerging in the first place.
Choosing a Melasma Treatment Provider
Treating melasma with microneedling is only effective if you have a qualified, skilled provider who has experience performing microneedling procedures. These treatments are highly customizable and determining the depth of penetration and the amount of pressure to use, along with understanding the unique nature of each patient’s skin, is critical in achieving the desired results without complications. Royal College-certified dermatologists understand the nuances of using microneedling to treat melasma.
If you’re looking for the best dermatologist in the London, Ontario area to treat melasma, you can contact us using the online form to request a consultation at DermEffects. Or call us at (519) 472-8686 to schedule an appointment.