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Cosmetic Dermatology

Melasma Treatment Beverly Hills

Posted on: December 13th, 2017 by Dr. Jennifer Herrmann

Melasma or patches of irregular brown pigmentation is an acquired condition that most often appears on sun-exposed areas of the face. It primarily affects women of reproductive age; in fact, 25% of cases occur during pregnancy. It is more common in women of color, and there is also a genetic predisposition, meaning it tends to run in families. Men of color are also at risk. 70% of Latino men with melasma have a family member with melasma.

While melasma is often considered a cosmetic issue, this condition has a significant impact on a patient’s emotional, psychological and social life. At Moy, Fincher, Chips Facial Plastics & Dermatology in Beverly Hills we understand this and are sensitive to our patients’ needs.

Although there is no cure for melasma, our experienced, board-certified cosmetic dermatologists can provide you with effective treatments to improve your pigmentation problems.

What does Melasma look like?

Melasma appears as blotchy patches of grayish – brown discoloration, usually in a symmetrical pattern on the forehead, chin, upper lip and nose. The blotchy patches are not raised, and they don’t itch or become sore.

What causes Melasma?

We don’t know the cause, but we do know that hormones, UV exposure and genetics play important roles. UV light exposure over-stimulates the skin’s pigment producing cells- melanocytes, causing hyperpigmentation or too much color.

  • UV sun exposure makes melasma worse in the summer, and it will return after treatment, if the skin is not protected.
  • Hormone changes, including the use of birth control and hormone replacement therapy can trigger or worsen the condition.
  • Some cosmetics can make it worse, especially those that contain perfume.
  • Some medications can make the skin more sensitive to the sun and trigger Melasma
  • Thyroid dysfunction has been implicated as a trigger in some people as well

What are the symptoms of Melasma?

There are no symptoms other than symmetrical, gray-brown patches on the face.

How is Melasma diagnosed?

Most often, your MFC dermatologist can diagnose the condition just by looking at your skin. To determine how deeply it penetrates, we may use a special light. If there is uncertainty about the diagnosis, a small skin biopsy can be performed determine if your brown discoloration is melasma.

How is Melasma treated?

Sometimes melasma can fade on its own when the triggers are removed. But, melasma is generally a chronic condition. All treatments depend on protecting the skin from the sun. Without this, treatments will only provide only minimal benefits.

What you can do:

  • Sun protection is essential to prevent or worsen melasma. Sun exposure will darken the patches. We recommend a high-quality sun screen that is reapplied every 2 hours, and the use of a wide-brimmed hat. The most effective sunscreens have an SPF of 30+ or higher, and contain DNA Repair Enzymes that reverse DNA damage caused by UV light. Our own DNA EGF Sheer Defense, developed by Dr. Ron Moy has won numerous awards and praise from dermatologists worldwide. Check out our award-winning skin care products.
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses.
  • Adopt healthy eating practices, including foods high in folate, Vitamins A, B, C & E.
  • Use gentle skin care products that do not irritate the skin.

What your dermatologist can do

All treatments are tailored to your skin type. Generally, treatment includes a combination of therapies involving topical bleaching and lightening creams, adjustment of hormones if indicated, avoidance of skin irritants, and laser or light treatments. Fractional non-ablative lasers like our Clear + Brilliant laser and our new PiQo4 picosecond laser can improve even the most challenging cases of melasma.

Melasma can be slow to respond and stubborn. It is important that treatments don’t injure the skin or use too much heat, because both of these can paradoxically exacerbate unwanted pigmentation. Multiple low energy treatments are key, and we have the newest technologies to help your skin treatments succeed.

We understand that melasma is a frustrating, chronic condition and look forward to working with you to devise a successful treatment regimen.


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