Hyperpigmentation is categorised by excessive pigmented areas of skin, where cells known as melanocytes produce an excessive amount of melanin, leaving the skin darker in appearance and uneven in tone.
Melanin is a class of pigment that is responsible for providing colour to our eyes, hair and skin and is responsible for providing UV protection, so it’s vital to protect skin cells from UV radiation.
However the melanocyte is very delicate and as the body ages, distribution of melanin becomes less diffused and it’s regulation less controlled by the body. UV radiation stimulates melanocyte activity and an excess concentration of melanin is produced, causing a denser area of colour known as hyperpigmentation.
Interestingly, regardless of your skin colour (i.e. white, brown or black), we all have the same amount of melanocytes present in the skin. The only difference being is how active they are and the physical amounts of melanin they’re capable of producing.
There are many causes of hyperpigmentation issues including genetics, acne, trauma, hormones and medication. However there are two factors that they all have in common, inflammation and UV exposure.
When UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds hits the skin it triggers Tyrosinase, an enzyme (catalyst for a biochemical reaction) that is present in our skin and instructs the melanocyte to produce more melanin.
By combining an inflammatory response in the skin with UV exposure and it is sufficient to over-stimulate the delicate melanocyte to produce excess pigment. Even irritants such as benzoyl peroxide in skincare or topical medications can contribute to this inflammatory response and trigger hyperpigmentation.
It’s important to remember that the melanocyte lives deep within the epidermis and that the melanin pigment is therefore dispersed between all layers. Hence why removeal of hyperpigmentation involves a series of treatments, working at different levels of the skin to achieve best results without compromising skin health.
Whilst hyperpigmentation is a generic term used to describe areas of excess pigment, there are different types of pigmentation, with different characteristics and causes.
Each skin type comes with it’s own pigmentation problems. White skin (Fitzpatrick I-II) for example is more prone to Solar Lentigo due to lack of natural protection from the sun, whereas black skin (Fitzpatrick V-VI) is more prone to Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation due to highly reactive melanocytes.
As with all of Andy’s treatments, the holistic approach is best, particularly when treating Melasma or PIH. Following Andy’s “4 Pillars to Skin Health” philosophy, the initial step is an in-depth skin health consultation and analysis to identify the possible root cause of pigmentation, before a treatment plan can be designed to correct the condition and provide the tools needed to ensure that it does not return.
A typical pigmentation treatment with Andy would involve a series of CosMedix Pomegranate Peels, CosMedix Benefit Peels or a combination of the two (the amount needed would depend on the depth of the pigment). Both treatments are extremely effective in lifting away the unwanted pigment, however both work very differently. The best treatment for you will be determined following the consultation and skin analysis.
An advanced home care regime is also recommended to follow in-between treatments, which would be discussed as part of your aftercare. The use of Alpha Hydroxy Acid L-Lactic Acid, antioxidants, safe Tyrosinase inhibitors and high factor physical sunscreen are absolutely essential in not only effectively treating the pigmentation but ensuring it does not return.
For deep or severe pigmentation problems a higher strength treatment such as the CosMedix Timeless Peel or Deep Sea Peel may also be needed.
Micro needling is also a very effective treatment for hyperpigmenation because it restores normal cell function and increases cell-to-cell communication, helping to regulate the production of melanin. Micro needling can be used instead of or alongside metabolic peels as part of an overall treatment process. Bespoke treatment packages are available at significantly discounted cost.
Andy is based in Harborne, Birmingham. If you are interested in hyperpigmentation treatment book an appointment now.