Pigmentation is caused by an overproduction of melanin and can be one of the most challenging skin conditions to treat.
When the skin is exposed to UV light, the melanocytes will be triggered to make melanin – pigments that protect the nucleus of other skin cells so that vital DNA is not damaged. When the skin is out of danger, away from UV light, melanocytes stop making melanin.
However, melanocytes can get damaged by trauma (eg squeezing of acne), skincare ingredients, excessive sun or chemical exposure, heat, UV exposure through the retina, hormonal changes such as synthetic hormone birth control, pregnancy and possibly a whole host of other things that we don’t know yet. When melanocytes get damaged, one of two things can happen – (1) they stop making melanin altogether or (2) they go rogue and make melanin continuously – an overproduction of melanin.
The challenge starts with understanding what has caused the melanocytes to go rogue, whether it’s sun damage or hormones or trauma. The next level of complexity is knowing where the melanin or pigments have been deposited ie. is it in the epidermal or dermal layer. Very often, extra pigments fall into the extracellular space deep in the dermis making it a challenge for any skin therapist.
When treating pigmentation, we take multiple approaches:
Take away triggers that are causing the melanocytes to go rogue.
Normalize melanin production by making melanocytes healthy.
Making sure skin cells surrounding the melanocytes are healthy so they can take on melanin.
If the melanocytes are too far damaged, we try to slow them down.
Remove superficial or epidermis pigmentation.
All of this requires a combination of treatment modalities such as dermal needling (also known as CIT) and/or IPL and the application of skincare ingredients that slow pigment production, strengthen cell membranes, and restore melanocyte health.