Doctors have been advocating about the significance of maintaining skin health for a long time. In recent years, skin-related concerns have started getting more attention and people are becoming increasingly aware of various types of pigmentation treatments available in Singapore. Being the first line of defense in the body, the skin takes the most of battering from the external environment and these effects manifests itself in the form of skin aging, which becomes more visible as the person ages. One of these problems that arises due to natural exposure to the sun or due to the natural aging process of the body is hyperpigmentation, which is the accumulation of pigment melanin, responsible for giving the natural color to the skin.
Causes Of Hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation can occur due to various causes. Some of these are as follows:
- The most common cause of hyperpigmentation is due to excess exposure to sun rays. Melanin is the natural sunblock agent produced by the body. It helps protect the skin by blocking the harmful rays from the sunlight such as ultraviolet rays. The production of melanin is triggered by prolonged exposures to sunlight. This causes the accumulation of melanin under the skin, causing hyperpigmentation.
- Hyperpigmentation is also a manifestation of the natural process of body aging. As the body ages, the number of melanocytes decreases. As a result, the remaining melanocytes undergo hypertrophy (increase in size). The skin also becomes thinner with age. This causes the formation of hyperpigmented areas on the skin which are known as age spots or liver spots. (1)
- Most women experience hyperpigmentation during their pregnancies. The change in estrogen levels can trigger the skin into excessive melanin production, leaving dark patches known as melasma on the skin.
- Rarely, hyperpigmentation may also be caused due to an underlying disease process in the body such as Addison’s disease.
Types Of Hyperpigmentation
They are the commonest type of hyperpigmentation that occurs due to excess exposure to sunlight. Freckles most often appear on the face and neck and can occur at any age.
Melasma, also known as chloasma, is common in women of childbearing ages due to hormonal imbalance. The spots have vaguely defined boundaries and are commonly found on the face.
As clear from the name, solar lentigines occur as a result of exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays found in sunlight. Solar lentigines have sharply defined boundaries. A factor to consider about solar lentigines is that if left untreated, they can develop into skin cancers such as melanomas.
Inflammation most commonly occurs in the body where an injury occurs, or where the body is trying to prevent an infection from a foreign body. Various factors secreted by cells during inflammation stimulate the cells in the skin (including melanocytes) to produce their secretions. As a result of inflammation, hyperpigmentation may develop in the areas surrounding the injury. 
Laser Skin Rejuvenation: Are All Of Them The Same?
For a long, medical doctors have relied on the use of conventional treatments such as topical creams and chemical peels for the treatment of hyperpigmentation. The issue with using conventional methods is that they require a comparatively longer treatment regimen than advanced techniques. In Singapore, people have accepting lasers as a safe and convenient alternative for skin treatment than using conventional treatment techniques. This is due to the relatively hassle-free nature of pigmentation laser treatment and the effectiveness of results produces in a shorter amount of time.
How does laser lighten the hyperpigmented areas?
As a general rule of thumb, every type of laser works by breaking the pigment melanin that has accumulated under the hyperpigmented areas on the skin. Different biological entities absorb different wavelengths of light. Melanin absorbs light best at ultraviolet wavelengths, that is, ranging between 400 nanometers and 1200 nanometers. The absorbance of such wavelengths by melanin causes certain effects. Most often, the lasers work by causing an optical breakdown of the melanin particles under the skin to remove hyperpigmented areas. But they may also affect the signaling system in melanocytes (cells that produce melanin), therefore disrupting the formation of melanin. 
How does laser tighten the skin and remove wrinkles?
Apart from being used as an effective measure for treating hyperpigmented areas on the skin, lasers are also being used widely in Singapore to tighten the skin and improve fine lines on skin.
Laser’s energy penetrates the skin and directly heats the collagen and elastin matter in the dermis. This causes a constriction in these fibers which tightens the skin. As a result, the skin looks fresh, young, and healthier.
There are various types of lasers available in Singapore for skin treatment.
Types Of Laser For Skin Rejuvenation
IPL stands for Intense Pulse Light. This treatment is similar to laser treatment. But the difference is that the conventional lasers use just one wavelength of light for the procedure, whereas IPL uses the light of many different wavelengths for the procedure. IPL is a popular treatment option in Singapore for lightening freckles, melasma and solar lentigines.
Medlite C6 is a Q-Switch Nd:YAG laser technology that produces a special wavelength of light that is capable of being absorbed by dark pigments in the skin. The absorbed energy fragmentizes the pigments into much smaller particles which results in pigment lightening. The laser also helps to speed up cellular renewal and collagen synthesis. Apart from pigmentation treatment, it is also widely used for the removal of tattoos, acne scars lightening, and improving skin wrinkles.
Alexandrite laser uses an alexandrite crystal to produce light in the wavelength range of about 755 nm. The light from the laser gun appears red. These lasers are also available in Q-switched variations, which is useful for producing very high-intensity lasers in short pulses.
Alexandrite lasers are useful for treating vascular lesions, hyperpigmented areas on the skin, wrinkles due to photo-aged skin, and removing tattoos.
Pico laser fires laser energy into the skin in Pico seconds. It works at an extreme speed in one-trillionth of a second. The short and quick burst or energy prevents heat from accumulating in the skin, thus preventing the worsening of pigments. When the laser comes in contact with the pigment, it causes micro vibrations which helps to fragmentize pigments into much smaller particles. As the pigment becomes less ‘concentrated’ in one area and skin cells rejuvenate over time, the pigments gradually become lighter in colour.
Fraxel lasers work by creating controlled columns of thermal destruction in the skin. This renewal action rejuvenates the skin from the inside out. The new skin cells impart a fresh, healthy look to the skin and improve any wrinkles, hyperpigmented areas, or acne scars.
Fraxel lasers are commonly used for skin treatment on the face but can also be used on the décolletage and other areas of the body.
Best Laser For Hyperpigmentation
According to various clinical studies, it has been shown that different types of hyperpigmentation require different types of laser therapy for their eradication. Not all types of pigmentations behave in the same way, so it depends on the diagnostic skills of the doctor to select the best customized treatment for an individual. There is no one best laser therapy to cover all types of hyperpigmentation.
How Many Sessions? How Often?
The pigmentation severity determines the number and frequency of sessions of laser therapy. People having darker spots or pigments tend to need a greater number of sessions to achieve the required results as compared to people having light or mild pigmentation concerns. Moreover, the type of hyperpigmentation also affects the number of sessions needed. Certain pigmentary states such as freckles need a minimum number of sessions as compared to melasma.
Can I Remove Pigmentation Permanently?
The efficacy of laser therapy depends on the post-therapeutic care. Hyperpigmentation may return due to significant exposures to intense sunlight. Moreover, the natural aging process may also trigger the formation of hyperpigmented areas, even after laser therapy.
Doctors discourage frequent unnecessary exposures to the sun after laser skin therapy. This is because the skin is very sensitive after the procedure, and exposure to the sun might worsen the pigmentation. The use of good sunscreen is recommended whenever going outdoors. Using good moisturizers such as aloe vera may help to decrease the redness after laser therapy and keep the areas of concern moisturized during the recovery phase.
Thinking Of Starting Your Journey Towards Clear Skin?
Before booking an appointment for laser skin treatment, it is always necessary to have your skin type checked by a certified doctor. The doctor will help you select the best laser suiting to your skin type with minimal side effects. Moreover, the doctor may also help you select a second option for treatment if one is not producing satisfactory results.