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The Blog How Does Pigmentation Removal Work?

Patient Journey: Removing Pigmentation with IPL Treatment

The Issue

Having lived with her freckles since a very young age, our patient noticed that over time, this pigmentation was becoming increasingly dark and she felt that it gave a dull effect to her facial aesthetic. She was unhappy with how the pigmentation appeared uneven and blotchy, and was tired of masking it.

So, she came to Contour Clinics wanting to see what could be possible in terms of clearing her complexion of this pigmentation altogether.

The Plan

After an in-depth consultation with Nadia, our Head Skin & Laser Therapist, an individualised treatment plan was conceived, tailored exactly to her skin type, desired outcome, and suitability. The end goal would be a brightened, clear complexion with even tone.

For genetically-occurring pigmentation such as this case of facial freckling, Nadia recommended a course of IPL treatment. This particular laser therapy is best suited to this type of pigmentation, because it’s attracted to dark pigmentation, using heat from the light to break up the bonds between the cells that form the discolouration, then bringing blemishes to the surface, where they eventually heal and shed.

Our patient understood that progress could be gradual, and that patience would be key. However, with every treatment, her results became increasingly obvious, which meant that keeping up with rounds of appointments became more and more exciting and motivating.

The Treatment

Head Skin & Laser Therapist Nadia assessed that her patient’s best course of treatment would be 3 sessions of IPL treatment, at intervals of 4 weeks apart.

On average, 1 – 3 sessions of IPL are usually recommended for optimal results, after which patients are assessed by their practitioner to see if further sessions will be required. However, results are quite often quickly noticeable.

The Results

As you can see, this patient’s skin responded well to this treatment and showed dramatic improvement.

After treatment, her skin not only shows drastic improvement where pigmentation is concerned, with discolouration being all but eradicated, but it also looks brighter, clearer and glowing.

What Is Pigmentation Removal and How Does It Work?

Have you noticed a lot more talk around pigmentation lately? It’s a hot topic due largely to the fact that treatment for removing unwanted pigmentation has come leaps and bounds. What was once perhaps a ‘cute’ collection of freckles (or maybe just plain old sun damage) that you had to learn to live with, is now something you can choose to remove.

Contour Clinics is a leader in pigmentation removal, offering the gold standard in laser technology and treatments. Being that we’re a doctor-led clinic, we can offer expert advice to each and every patient, with up-to-the-minute knowledge and training for every type of pigmentation and its cause.

Pigmentation, especially on the face, can be an instant let-down to an otherwise clear complexion. Most people are concerned with their pigmentation because it has an ageing effect on their looks, or it can make them appear ‘weathered’ or damaged, while in other cases it might cause noticeable asymmetry or simply detract from a person’s overall aesthetic.

What Causes Skin Pigmentation?

Pigmentation removal is not a one-size-fits-all treatment. There are many types of pigmentation, and they can have different causes – and therefore require different treatment methods.

Pigmentation can present itself as patchy discolouration of the skin, freckles, sun spots, sun damage, melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and uneven skin tone.

Depending on the type, it can be caused by sun damage, hormonal changes, ageing, genetics, skin injury or inflammation, or sometimes a combination of these elements. The most common culprit of pigmentation is UV rays; the sun is what induces melanin production in the skin.

Melanin is produced when the skin is going into self-protective mode; it’s what we create when we tan, and it’s also what creates those brown spots, dark patches, shadows or freckles. When this skin discolouration occurs, it’s a sign of the pigment going into overproduction as a defence mechanism – AKA, hyperpigmentation.

Pigmentation can appear on different parts of the body, depending on its type and cause, and generally speaking, is caused by overproduction of melanin – the stuff the body produces that makes us darken when we tan.

Sun damage, also called sun spots, liver spots or solar lentigines, most commonly appears on the face, chest and hands, or anywhere that has been overexposed to the sun over a long period of time. These effects of sun damage generally start appearing with age but can also pop up for younger patients who haven’t used a physical sunblock regularly.

Melasma, which is a hormonally incurred hyperpigmentation, is often caused by pregnancy, or hormonal changes associated with ageing, and tends to appear on the face – specifically cheeks, sides of face, hairline and upper lip. It’s sometimes referred to as the ‘mask of pregnancy’. Some people experience melasma as a result of genetics or can even be more prone to developing this type of pigmentation due to their ethnic background; melasma affects all skin types but is prevalent among Asian women, as this skin type naturally has more melanin and is therefore more prone to discolouration.

Post-inflammatory pigmentation is caused by damage to the skin, most commonly from acne. This can leave a darkening of the skin even once the acne has cleared, due to skin trauma.

Can You Remove Pigmentation?

In a word: yes!

But it depends on the type of pigmentation, and of course, the treatment method.

Not all lasers are appropriate for all cases of pigmentation removal; some are specific to brown pigment such as that of sun spots or freckles, while others are better suited to red pigment such as rosacea, scarring or skin damage.

And then there’s different ways that pigmentation can react to different laser treatments. Melasma, which is a hormonal pigmentation, should not be subjected to heat otherwise this can exacerbate the condition, so only a laser that does not generate extreme heat can be used. For this particular condition, we recommend the 1 – 3 laser for pigmentation removal.

At Contour Clinics, we have various laser technologies to treat all types of pigmentation, so you can rest assured that the correct laser pigmentation treatment will be used for your specific concern.

When planning a course of treatment for our patients at Contour Clinics, we always take utmost care with tailoring the most effective, safe and accurate therapy for specific concerns, with long-term results in mind.

Can You Remove Pigmentation from Home?

There are steps you can take at home to minimise your pigmentation, and these can be in the form of preparing your skin in anticipation of your in-clinic pigmentation removal treatment, as well as aftercare following your appointments.

However, as far as removing the pigmentation goes, this isn’t possible without the use of in-clinic laser pigmentation treatment.

Beforehand, we recommend that patients apply a specially formulated serum daily for four weeks leading up to their first appointment. This product helps prevent future pigmentation from developing by inhibiting melanin overproduction, so that when they commence treatment, there is a lowered risk of the skin being triggered into producing more pigment.

At Contour Clinics, we recommend Aspect Dr Complete Pigment Plus, which contains Tranexamic Acid and Tyrostat-11 to help brighten and lighten discolouration whilst keeping a lid on that pesky pigment forming any new blotches.

You should also be diligent with aftercare such as physical sunscreen in order to protect your skin from UV damage due its newly sensitive state post-treatment. It’s important that physical – as opposed to chemical – sunscreen is used, as only this type contains zinc to physically block UV rays. Chemical sunscreen, on the other hand, contains ingredients that absorb and scatter the rays, which ironically can lead to pigmentation.

For true pigmentation removal, the issue lies further beneath the outer layer of skin and must be treated at a deeper level, where the pigment for these spots is made.

It takes laser treatment to penetrate far enough to treat the underlying cause of the discolouration that shows on the top level of the skin.

The only effective way to truly eradicate skin discolouration is with in-clinic pigmentation removal treatment using specialised laser therapy.

How to Remove Pigmentation with IPL Technology

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment for pigmentation removal works by delivering light energy into the pigment whereby the energy is almost completely absorbed by the pigment.

Although classed as laser therapy, and very similar to a laser, IPL is technically not a laser. Unlike laser, which steadily focuses energy in one steady beam, IPL emits light in multiple wavelengths, scattering or ‘pulsing’ its focus and therefore causing less damage to the epidermis (outer layer) while still penetrating far enough to reach the dermis (second layer) of the skin.

How Does Pigmentation Reduction Treatment Work?

The expert skin and laser therapists at Contour Clinics will assess your concerns in a complimentary consultation, where you will discuss options for treatment, the number of treatments necessary, and the likely outcome.

Our clinicians are highly trained professionals who are experienced in ascertaining which laser technology will be suitable for your particular pigmentation issue.

Is Pigmentation Removal Treatment Permanent?

While pigmentation reduction is long lasting due to the ongoing effect of preventing new pigmentation forming, its removal is not entirely permanent. Discolouration or spots can reappear after months or years but should respond well to maintenance sessions of laser treatment, with the need for treatment lessening each time.

Isolated targets such as sun spots tend to respond well and can be eradicated for good, while other types of pigmentation such as melasma may be more stubborn, and can regenerate with age.

It’s an extremely effective treatment for pigmentation removal and success rates are high, with most patients seeing results after only their second or third appointment.

Treat Skin Pigmentation with Contour Clinics

Using the absolute gold standard in IPL technology, Contour Clinics has become Australia’s most trusted clinic when it comes to the question of how to remove pigmentation.

Takes 5–30 minutes depending on the area treated

  • Costs start from $99
  • Results seen within 1–3 months
  • Multiple treatments required to achieve desired result
  • All treatments are backed by our Contour Clinics Guarantee, including complimentary consultations and review appointments.
  • We have clinics located in Miranda, Newtown, Five Dock and Brisbane, and a team of more than 20 experienced and trusted Cosmetic Doctors, Cosmetic Injectors and Skin & Laser Therapists.

Book a complimentary consultation here, or read more about IPL here.

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