Effective Treatments for Dark Spots

Effective Solutions for Dark Spots

Why am I getting those nasty, pesky dark spot that won't go away? This is the number one question I hear from patients at the medspa! If you have dark spots but feel like no matter what you do, they never really go away, this blog post is here to help! Dark spots or hyperpigmentation, the medical term, is something we all suffer from and stems from a variety of causes.

The reason people get a lot of hyperpigmentation is because when your skin gets damaged, it sends melanocytes into the injury area to repair the skin. But the problem is, a lot of times our body sends too many of these melanocytes, and then we are left with a dark spot. Now the dark spot isn't something that just appears overnight from a one-time situation. Using the analogy of an iceberg, the hyperpigmentation is the tip of the iceberg above the surface, and all the damage is really deeper underneath the skin. The reason why a lot of people don't get great results from dark spot treatments is either that they are not using the right products or they are not giving it enough time to actually repair.

What are Melanocytes?

Darker skin tones produce more melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin that pigments the skin, eyes, and hair. Melanocytes protect your skin from UV-B light. The lighter the skin, the more prone you are to UV-B light damage which breaks down the skin’s collagen, aging your skin, and can even cause some very serious medical concerns, such as skin cancer. In short, if melanocytes are over-activated, it’s a bad thing, but it's a really good thing to protect our skin, as long as we know how to control it.

Treating Dark Spots

The most important thing we want to do when we are treating for hyperpigmentation is to use the right product. The type of treatment is determined by the condition of the hyperpigmentation. If you have severe hyperpigmentation, there is a really aggressive but effective treatment called hydroquinone, a skin-lightening agent. Hydroquinone has been used for cosmetic treatments for over 50 years. Many are familiar with a brand Obagi which gets really effective results. I was actually one of the people who was sold an Obagi kit, and while it worked, no one told me how long term use of Hydroquinone can be really toxic to the body. So when we educate people on treating dark spots, we also need to consider how to use it safely. We find out from our patients how aggressive they want to be with their treatment, and determine if they are healthy enough to use the specific product that we are considering. Anyone who has an autoimmune or other diseases that their body is fighting, you don't want to use this product because though effective, it is really extreme.

What Does Hydroquinone Do?

Let’s use the analogy that your skin is a hose and the water flowing through the hose is your skin’s pigmentation. When you plug that hose you are going to stop that pigmentation flow or activity, and that is what hydroquinone does, it actually plugs the pathway of where that pigmentation is going, so that's why you get really good results. The problem with hydroquinone is that it is an acute treatment. You don't want to use this product for more than about 3 months. When you stop using this product it actually opens back up that pathway or the "hose" and then it floods the body with that pigmentation. You will often hear people who use this product say, "I've used hydroquinone and then when I stopped using it I felt like my skin looked worse." Well, that it why. How we treat hyperpigmentation is customizable. If we do put you on a hydroquinone to get you really quick results, say you have a special event like a wedding or you have something else where you want to make sure your skin looks amazing, we may put you on a hydroquinone to treat those dark spots. But treating you for long-term results is our goal, so we recommend that you have a treatment plan that included the use of a product that is going to be safe to use beyond that aggressive treatment.

Preventing Dark Spots

Ultimately, we don't want to treatment the hyperpigmentation, we want to prevent it. We have an amazing product that does both to prevent and to protect the skin from dark spots. It’s called Lytera 2.0, and it was just launched this year! Lytera 2.0 is an improved version of the original. While we and our patients love the results of Lytera, we are not able to recommend it to everyone, especially if they had skin sensitivity or they are pregnant or nursing, because it contains a small amount of retinol to help skin cells turn over. The manufacturer, SkinMedica always stays up-to-date on the most recent research and science. What they learned is that there are five pathways of hyperpigmentation. The newest version treats all the pathways so that you get long term results. I love Lytera 2.0 and use it in the morning and at night.

Chemical Peels for Dark Spots

Our chemical peels are customized to address your specific skin’s condition and properties, unlike some places you might go that only offer one "cookie-cutter" treatment for everyone. Hyperpigmentation can be present at different depths and layers in the skin. One peel might address the top layer, but what about those other layers underneath? If it's not reaching them, it's not going to be effective. So make sure you are getting treatments that can be layered and "manipulated" in a way to make sure it is addressing all those layers where there is hyperpigmentation.

Lasers for Dark Spots

An Nd:Yag laser is an amazing treatment option. Many people use IPL laser, which is great, but it's only good for people with lighter skin tones and it only addresses the top layers of the skin, similar to a chemical peel, but it doesn't get to the root of your hyperpigmentation. To the naked eye, we can only see what is on the surface of our skin, but the source of the pigmentation is often in the deeper layers of the skin. The Nd:Yag laser goes deep into the skin. Other technologies like IPL, Q-switch laser, or fraxels are good for superficial dark spots, but if you really want to get to that root, that bottom layer of damage to get it to break up and repair, you need a combination of treatments with our Nd:yag laser, chemical peels, and micro-needling.

Micro-Needling for Dark Spots

Micro-needling is one of my favorite treatments because I believe you get great results even just after one treatment. With micro-needling, you are going into the skin to create a controlled trauma so your body will create collagen to repair and rejuvenate the skin. At the same time, your body is sending growth factors so it's turning over those dead skin cells and it’s repairing all that damage, creating plump, fresh, beautiful skin. But not one treatment is going to do everything, you have to layer your treatments and you have to use your home care treatments consistently to maximize results.

Prevention, Patience, Persistence and Consistency

It’s important to set the expectation and be realistic that one treatment is not going to fix years and years of damage. Creating healthy, beautiful skin is a journey, not a destination. As we are constantly and continually exposed to our environment, we are constantly and continually aging. Prevention, patience, persistence and consistency are all needed to achieve the results of healthy, beautiful skin.

I am a true believer, and you cannot deny the medical studies of the products and treatments that we use will get you results. If you are not getting results with your current skincare routine, there is probably a reason why. Either you are not using the right products or you don't know how to use the products effectively. This is why it is important to have a team of experts who really care, who use the products, who aren't just selling them to you because they want to make a commission, but are selling them to you because they know the products and treatments will get you the results you seek, because they have seen those skin transformations first hand.

Dark spots, yes they are ugly, they are nasty, they are stubborn. But the truth is there are multiple effective ways to safely treat them. Halley, who is our esthetician at the medpa, is always available for anyone who wants to just chat with her and ask questions. We are always open for you to bring in the products you are currently using so that we can help you evaluate their efficacy. Maybe it's effective. I am sure we are not the only company to have effective products in the world. I also know the products we sell have clinical research to back up their efficacy, but I am sure there are other products out there, so if you are using something that you love, great. But if you are using something that is not effective, than you need to switch up your routine. Bring in your products, let us look at them, let us see if it is something that is effective and then we can add in some pieces that maybe are missing.

Prevention is Key

When you use any product or you get any skincare treatment, whether it's at a medspa or what you do at home, if you are not protecting your skin you are just going to get those dark spots right back. Many people have more skin damage on the left side of our face, left arm and hand and body because of the sun and environmental exposure that we get while driving.

When you are preventing the melanocytes activation, which is your skin’s protection mechanism, you really want to make sure you are protecting your skin all the more because you don't have that extra protection, so you want to make sure you are using products with antioxidants as well because that is going to give you that full spectrum protection.

Protection is the key that is going to keep your skin flawless, that is going to keep your skin from fine lines, dark spots, and most importantly, from cancer. Melanoma and other forms of skin cancer is a very scary, very real possibility because our ozone is so terribly depleted. So we need to make sure we take extra steps to protect our skin. These days we can’t be careless, as previous generations were, because our environment is different and poses much more serious dangers.

With summer coming up, one of the best ways you can protect your skin is to use our SkinMedica Defense and Repair every morning. SkinMedica Defense and Repair is a revolutionary superscreen that goes beyond UV protection to defend against harmful infrared rays while supporting the skin’s ability to restore itself. And it’s even available in a tinted version! Even if you are not going to treat the dark spots that you already have, you can protect against getting more with this high-quality, medical-grade superscreen. Come see us today to get yours.

I hope you found this information valuable if you did I would love for you to comment below.

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Categories: Skincare

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