What is hyperpigmentation?
Melanin is the natural pigment in your skin that determines its color. Usually it is developed evenly, creating an even skin tone across your face. But sometimes melanin cells are disrupted and the pigmentation in your skin becomes disorganized, thus creating an uneven skin tone. When the melanin is concentrated in certain areas, making those spots appear darker, it is called hyperpigmentation.
There are many different types of hyperpigmentation, often classified by their cause.
· Age Spots (also called Sunspots, Liver Spots, and Solar Lentigines): Most commonly found on the face and hands, and other areas of skin that are most often exposed to the sun, sunspots are brown, tan, or black spots that appear after excessive sun exposure.
· Melasma (also called chloasma, or “the mask of pregnancy”): Most commonly appearing on the forehead, cheeks, and stomach, these are large patches of darkened skin that appear during pregnancy or when taking birth control pills.
· Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation: Usually appearing on the face and neck, patches of darkened skin that develop after an inflammatory skin condition like acne or eczema, or post skin injury.
There are also some medical conditions (like Addison’s disease) that can cause hyperpigmentation and some medications list hyperpigmentation as a side effect. While hyperpigmentation is surprisingly common, it can still be a point of insecurity for some.
How do you treat hyperpigmentation?
Here at MedSkinEssentials, we use the Cosmelan® Peel. It is an effective, non-invasive treatment for hyperpigmentation. Using the Cosmelan® Method, the peel consists of four phases, all of which are necessary to achieve the target outcome: minimizing the appearance of your hyperpigmentation.
How does Cosmelan® work?
Cosmelan’s blend of ingredients regulates melanin activity, both by blending over-concentrated areas of melanin and by preventing future melanin over-production. Cosmelan® is formulated with azelaic acid, kojic acid, arbutine, phytic acid, and ascorbic acid, which work together to inhibit tyrosinase, one of the basic enzymes necessary to produce melanin. The medical grade Cosmelan® peel that we use also includes hydroquinone, a skin bleaching agent that also minimizes the appearance of hyperpigmentation. While you can buy Cosmelan® for home use only, it does NOT include hydroquinone and is not nearly as effective as the professional Cosmelan® that we provide.
What can I expect during my Cosmelan® appointment?
Preparation: Skin Prep and Cleanse
First, your provider will prep your skin with the Oil Removing Solution. This compound, a mixture of acetone and water, gently removes excessive oils and opens your pores, providing a clean canvas ready for the application of the Cosmelan® 1 Mask.
Phase 1: Intensive Depigmentation
Phase 1 is the professional application of the Cosmelan® 1 Mask. Cosmelan® 1 Mask is applied in a thick layer (it is similar in look and consistency to peanut butter). You may experience mild discomfort upon application, but it will dissipate quickly. After application, you will be cleared to go home! The Cosmelan® 1 Mask must stay on your face for eight to twelve hours, depending on level of correction needed. While it is not painful, the mask may leave your skin slightly sensitive, or slightly red. After mask application, you will be given the other three phases of your Cosmelan® treatment pack to complete at home, with full instructions. After you have removed the mask, you should notice your hyperpigmentation has already started to fade!
Phase 2: Continuous Depigmentation
At home, 48-72 hours after you have removed Cosmelan® 1, you will begin applying Cosmelan® 2, a topical solution to continue the corrective depigmentation that the Cosmelan® 1 Mask jumpstarted. Cosmelan® 2 may cause your skin to feel itchy and irritated and you will experience peeling, and lots of it! Plan for a week of downtime: peeling typically starts at day two and continues for about five days, during which you should avoid going out, as your skin will be very sensitive. You will apply Cosmelan® 2 two to three times a day, depending on your providers instructions for your individual needs, together with Melan Recovery, which rehydrates your skin and speeds up the healing process. Melan 130 pigment control, a tinted sunscreen that helps control your hyperpigmentation and protects against more sun damage, should also be used during daytime applications to protect your skin.
Phase 3: Regulating Hyperpigmentation
Gradually, per your providers instructions, your frequency of application will decrease. During this phase, Cosmelan® 2 is working on the root of the problem by controlling the production of melanin in your skin and preventing new hyperpigmentation from developing. You will continue to apply Cosmelan® 2 together with Melan Recovery and Melan 130 pigment control. Always reapply UV protection every two hours; your skin is extra sensitive to the sun during the full course of the Cosmelan® treatment.
Phase 4: Controlling Reappearance
During Phase 4 you continue to apply Cosmelan® 2, but only at night, to continue preventing the over production of melanin and maintain your beautiful even skin tone. It is important to continue using your Melan 130 pigment control to protect your rejuvenated skin and prevent sun damage that can lead to more hyperpigmentation.
How many times will I need to complete the Cosmelan® Treatment to see the results I want?
Most patients see immediate improvement after just the first step of their first Cosmelan® Peel. Because all our patients are unique, the number of complete Cosmelan® treatments depends on the severity of your hyperpigmentation and if there are any other issues you are looking to treat. Our providers will work with you to develop a complete treatment plan designed just for you and your skin goals!