Pigmentation

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Pigmentation Treatment

Pigmentation can be bothersome. If you are looking to get it treated, the sheer choice of pigmentation treatment options can be overwhelming. Thanks to numerous medical innovations in recent years, there is now a plethora of minimally-invasive therapies, which can be utilized to treat most types of benign skin pigmentation. Here you will find useful information on these skin pigmentation disorders, as well information regarding all the different treatment options available at our clinic. Please remember, that this page is only meant to showcase the array of therapies available. Only an actual medical diagnosis by a doctor can help you find the right treatment method for your individual situation.

What Is Pigmentation?

The various dark or fair tones of human skin are caused by the concentration and distribution of a single pigment, eumelanin, produced by special cells of the skin called melanocytes. Pigment cells are located in the basal layer of the epidermis. Their number is about the same in all people – regardless of “skin color” and origin. The reason for the differences lies in the different activities of the pigment-forming cells.

Environmental factors such as UV rays triggers the skin to produce melanin, giving the appearance of a darker tan to protect it from sun damage. However, prolong exposure to UV rays can cause micro damages to the skin, triggering uneven production of melanin which causes spots commonly referred to as pigmentation. Other factors such as hormonal changes, medication or aging can also contribute to pigmentation. The extent to which this occurs and the degree of skin pigmentation present with sunlight exposure are predominantly genetically determined.

Undesirable Pigmentation Issues

Human skin is rarely completely flawless. Especially in fair-skinned people, the skin tends to develop some pigmentation disorders throughout the course of one’s life. Some types of pigmentation, such as freckles, already appear in children; age spots develop in the course of life. The pigmentation marks can be brownish, reddish, or ocher and are usually not raised, i.e., not palpable. They mainly form on skin areas that are particularly exposed to light, for example, on the face, on the décolleté, or on the hands.

The Most Common Types Of Pigmentation

In Singapore and most places around the world, the most prevalent types of undesirable pigmentation include:

Melasma:

Melasma is a form of hyperpigmentation, i.e. a strong storage of melanin. Due to the high concentration of color pigments, the area appears much darker than the rest of the skin. This can happen overnight or build up slowly over the course of several months. Melasma usually appears on the cheeks or forehead, sometimes on the arms. Although melasma is harmless, some may find it causing negative impact on individual’s quality of life socially. While the more pronounced it is, the more difficult it would be to treat or conceal with makeup.

Sunspots:

Sunspots are found on areas of skin that have been exposed to the sun frequently. They appear as smaller spots, no more than a few centimeters in size, with a partially varying brownish hue. Sunspots are located at the skin’s superficial level and are not raised. It is a fairly common skin condition and most prevalent in fair-skinned individuals with Fitzpatrick skin type I-III, who live in sunny geographic locations, such as Singapore. Chronic exposure to ultraviolet light leads to hyperpigmentation of the skin, oftentimes these benign lesions come in the form of freckles and liver spots.

Acne scars:

When an individual has developed acne, their skin is inflamed. When this inflammation subsides, the skin may leave behind a stain (change in pigmentation), which is part of a natural healing process. These marks tend to fade away over the course of several weeks or months. However, in cases of severe acne, the blemish can be permanent.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation:

When a pimple, rash or wound, or other event causes inflammation, the melanocytes (the cells that produce melanin) are stimulated to secrete an excess amount of melanosomes. Melanosomes contain tyrosinase, a pigmentation enzyme that initiates melanin formation, as well as melanin that has already been formed.

Melanin imparts color to the skin and hair. The pigment grains present in excess darken the previously wounded area. The discoloration remains for a long time after healing.

Seborrheic keratosis

Visually, seborrheic keratosis or age warts are similar to typical warts, hence their name. Since they do not have a viral cause, they are not actual warts and thus not infectious. Their appearance is sharply defined, flat, or raised. The color of age warts varies greatly. They can be beige, brown, or almost black in color. Color changes are also possible. Initially, age warts are very small and flat; over time, they become larger, more raised, and sometimes darker. A seborrheic keratosis usually forms a dull, crust-like surface on the skin surface over time.

Treating Pigmentation in Dream

While most types of pigmentation are benign and completely harmless, they may still be perceived as cosmetically bothersome by the people affected. Thus, many of them opt for a professional treatment to either achieve pigmentation removal or reduce its visibility.

During pigmentation treatment in Dream, we accompany our patients along the entire journey and help them achieve the desired results in a safe manner under the care of our experienced medical team.

Dream Holistic Approach In Treating Skin Pigmentation

Consultation And Examination

In the initial consultation, our medical doctors will thoroughly examine your type of pigmentation. If your skin condition has not been diagnoses yet, we will take the steps necessary to ensure an accurate diagnosis. At last, we will discuss potential treatment options with you and help you determine your priorities, budget, lifestyle and condition. Our doctors will take many lifestyle factors into account when devising the optimal therapy for your individual situation.

Planning Of Treatment Program

Having examined your skin condition carefully, A treatment program will be customised based on your skin condition, budget, lifestyle, and time schedule.

Aftercare

After your treatment program is completed, we will continuously perform regular checkups to ensure your skin is developing as expected to avoid reoccurance. This thorough aftercare greatly increases the success rate of many procedures. We will ensure your aftercare program is flexible and adapted to be least disruptive to your lifestyle.

Types Of Treatment For Pigmentation Removal

Intense Pulse Light Therapy (IPL)

Pigment spots are exposed to high-energy intense pulsed light (IPL). The intense pulsed light is absorbed by the dark color pigment of the skin (melanin) and transformed into heat. The pigment-rich cell structures of the age spots are destroyed by correspondingly high temperatures. The surrounding healthy tissue remains intact and is not affected. In Singapore, this procedure is commonly used to treat pigmentation, such as freckles.

Q-switched Nd:YAG-Laser

This system features two short-pulsed wavelengths, namely 532 nm and 1064 nm. Both wavelengths are used to treat different types of skin conditions. Laser energy is highly targeted and exposed onto the epidermis in a short pulse, to avoid thermal diffusion into the surrounding tissue. Since the pulse time is shorter than the tissue’s thermal relaxation time, this can ensure that the energy delivered will only affect the melanin within the target area, as it has insufficient time to extend to neighboring tissue.

The 532 nm wavelength enables the removal of red and brown pigments. Thus, this system is particularly suitable for the removal of age spots and lentigo solaris on the face, décolleté, chest, abdomen, back, and in the area of the hands. When using the 1064 nm wavelength, the laser energy is absorbed by dark pigments in the black and blue spectrum. Additionally, this wavelength can be used to remove blue, grey, and black tattoos, and permanent makeup.

Alexandrite Laser

This light emitted by the alexandrite laser can be used to selectively target and break up bothersome pigmentations. It uses an alexandrite crystal as the laser medium. The alexandrite laser produces light beam in the infrared spectrum at a wavelength of 755nm. The energy of the light is converted into heat, thus damaging the targeted skin area, similar to the aforementioned Q-switched laser.  The alexandrite laser is used to treat:

  • Age spots
  • Freckles
  • Flat pigmented birthmarks
  • Acquired dermal melanocytosis
  • Naevus of Ota
  • Black, blue and green tattoos.

The entire procedure usually takes less than 15 minutes and, as a non-invasive procedure, it is well-tolerated by most patients. While the treated skin area may be sensitive for up to a week, the patient will not require any downtime. As the alexandrite laser is very gentle, it can also be used to treat highly sensitive skin areas, such as the eyelids.

Fractional CO² Laser

Fractional laser therapy is a minimally invasive treatment option that requires a downtime of 3-7 days. The CO2 laser produces heat in the deeper dermis to stimulate collagen production. A scanner defines the exact micorscopic zones to be targeted and this is applied to a fraction of the skin at a time. It is called fractional technology, because it only targets a fraction of the pigmented skin at a time, leaving small sections of healthy tissue intact, which accelerates tissue healing. With a fractional laser, wrinkles and unwanted pigmentation such as melasma, age spots, or sun spots can be treated simultaneously. In addition, Fractional CO2 laser can be used to reduce coarse-pored skin or skin irregularities such as acne scars or stretch marks. Fractional is particularly suitable for areas such as the face, neck, cleavage, and hands.

Pico Laser

The use of Pico laser has set a new treatment standard for treating skin pigmentation, scars, and pores in Singapore. A picosecond is one-trillionth of a second which is the time it takes for one pulse of laser to penetrate your skin. It is considered an improvement compared to traditional Q-switched lasers, which send pulses in nanoseconds (one billionth of a second). Due to the laser’s ultra-short pulse duration, picosecond laser pulses can delivery more energy and fire more shots per second.

This improves the process of laser energy, breaking down pigments mechanically,  enhancing the laser’s ability to break down pigments into small fragments, which will then be removed by the body’s immune system.

These pulses create micro-cavities in the area, which actively stimulates the production of collagen and elastin fibers. The amount of treatment sessions required depends on the skin condition, but sessions are relatively short compared to Q-switched lasers. The Pico Laser is a popular procedure due to the following benefits:

  • Minimally invasive with only minor pain
  • Little to no downtime
  • Suitable for all skin types
  • As a secondary effect, it also rejuvenates the skin.

Pico Laser Can Be Used To Effectively Treat:

Acne Scars

Tattoos

Wrinkles

Sunspots

Freckles

Melasma

Rosacea

Hori’s Nevus

Facial flushing

Red acne marks

Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Additional Treatment Options

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are a non-invasive method suitable for evening out light blemishes and uneven skin tones. Chemical peels are generally safe, if used correctly. It is crucial to understand the different types of chemical peels to make an informed decision and opt for the optimal treatment.  During a chemical peel, the superficial layers of the skin are removed by chemical substances (alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic and lactic acid), beta hydroxy acids (salicylic acid), and trichloroacetic acid (TCA).

Superficial Peels

Superficial peels only penetrate only the outer layer of the skin to clear pigmentation. The peels allow for skin improvement while maintaining a low risk of complications. These peels generally require around 3 -7 days of healing time.

Medium Depth Peels

Medium depth peels clear the middle and outer layers of the skin to improve the appearance of skin discoloration. This peeling treatments can be performed repeatedly every few months to maintain the desired complexion.

Medium depth peels generally take one to two weeks to heal.

KKUM Whitening Home Skin Care Program Designed By Dream

This skincare program is ideal for people who want to lighten their pigmentation, reduce dark spots and melanin presence by integrating medical grade products into their skincare routine. Our KKUM whitening home skin care program is either used as a first line of treatment, or used post-treatment as part of the patient’s aftercare.  In addition, it provides a rejuvenating effect, stabilizing the texture and tone of the skin.

This skincare program consists of the following products:

DREAM SPOT LIGHTENING CREAM

This medical-grade cream was developed to improve skin pigmentation without any in-clinic procedure. It is prescribe to correct hyperpigmentation caused by melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and freckles, using the combination of ingredients, such as Arbutin, Glycolic acid and, most notably, Cysteamine. The latter one is a compound that is naturally present in your body and functions as a natural pigment regulator by reducing melanin. The first visible results will usually appear within 2-3 months, and the skin condition may improve continuously, thereafter.

NUTRISHINE SKIN SUPPLEMENT

Nutrishine incorporates a three-stage approach to transforming the health and complexion of your skin - Enhancing Skin Radiance, Repair & Restore, and finally Strengthen.

  • Enhance Skin Radiance - White Tomato and Glutathione combine to rehabilitate skin and leave it positively glowing.
  • Repair and Restore - Five essential vitamins combine to provide a comprehensive nutritional boost to your skin, from stimulating healthy skin cell growth to reducing the signs of aging.
  • Strengthen Skin, Hair & Nails - The impressive attributes of key B-vitamin Biotin play a crucial role in maintaining the health of your skin and allowing radiance to shine through.

DrDream COLD PLAZMA WHITENING CREAM

DrDream COLD PLAZMA WHITENING CREAM based on galactomyces ferment filtrate (contained 80%) which is made by the two steps of ferment filtering technology provides better efficiency skin improvement in brightening combined with Cold Plazma MGF Complex 0.42mg that enhances anti-oxidative ability to the skin.

TRANEXAMIC ACID

Tranexamic Acid (short: TXA) is a prescribe medication to treat melasma by interfering and blocking the melanin production pathway in UV exposure and hormonal influences. A study demonstrated that the oral application of TXA is an effective and safe therapy for melasma. In one of the clinical studies, a significant improvement was observed in 94.6% of the test subjects, who took 250mg of TXA orally, twice a day for 6 months.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Pigmentation Treatment

Generally it is suitable for most people. It is essential to get an accurate diagnosis from medical doctor and to understand the cause of your pigmentation. Only this way, we can derive at an optimal treatment plan.

Yes, any area, including sensitive areas, can be treated effectively and safely. Most treatments focus on areas, such as the face, neck, arms, and chest.

  • To protect your eyes, you must wear goggles during the treatment session.
  • Sometimes, topical anesthetic can be applied in some in-clinic treatments.
  • Avoid scrubbing or scratching the treated area 2-3 days after the laser treatment.
  • Avoid the application of abrasive skin care products, such as acidic cleansers.

The pain level in laser treatment is generally minimal or painless. The feeling during the treatment is often described as warmth or slight tingling. After the treatment, light soreness may occur, which usually disappears within a day.

Laser treatment is particularly suitable for pain-sensitive people.

In Singapore, depending on the type of laser treatment involved, each session ranges between $250 – $500 SGD. Usually, it requires repeated treatments of 4-6 weeks interval till desired result achieved.

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