Melasma Removal

Melasma, a brown, tan, or grayish/black skin discoloration, is usually found on sun-exposed areas of the face, including cheeks, forehead, nose, chin, jaw line and upper lip. Per the Advanced Laser and Skin Center, melasma affects an estimated 6 million people in the United States. This condition is not dangerous, but it can cause embarrassment and discomfort. Although there is no real cure for this skin disorder, treatments are available that can lessen the visibility of the pigmentation.


Melasma is a common skin disorder frequently associated with the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. It is a very prevalent skin condition for women who are pregnant, taking oral contraception, or women who are taking hormone replacement therapy during menopause. Sun exposure is also strongly associated with melasma.

Skin Cells

After its initial appearance, the discoloration tends to fade over a three- to four-month period. Because the discoloration is on surface skin cells, if left alone and not exacerbated by sun exposure, melasma tends to live a short life. However, melasma becomes permanent if the discolored area splits, allowing the pigmented cells to go deeper into the skin or dermal layers. If this occurs, response to conventional treatments is not as favorable.

Topical Treatments

Melasma is a difficult condition to manage, but skin bleachers, chemical peels, and laser skin resurfacing all have shown positive results. You need to discuss your condition with your doctor and decide on the right method of treatment for you. Over-the-counter bleaching creams are usually well tolerated and may gradually lighten melasma over a few months; however, they are not very effective. Prescription bleaching creams are often more effective but may also result in redness, drying and peeling.

Deeper Skin Treatments

Chemical peels are administered by a physician using a variety of different chemicals to remove the melasma. This process may smooth and firm the skin and may gradually lighten dark areas. Superficial peels are quite safe; however, you may need a few sessions before you notice any improvement. Deeper peels are more effective but require a longer recovery period.

Melasma can be burned off with a laser in just one treatment. Because laser resurfacing delivers a highly controlled treatment to the outer portion of the skin, you may experience some pain as well as redness and peeling. Scabs may even form in the days after the procedure.

Intense pulsed light therapy can smooth the skin and fade the melasma by delivering energy to both the superficial and deep layers of the skin. You may experience some pain during the procedure, but there is no recovery time. However, you may need multiple treatments to see any improvement.


Avoid sun exposure since this triggers a rise in the skin’s color pigments. If possible, avoid taking oral contraception regularly. Monitor your skin condition by keeping it well moisturized and using a sunscreen daily, and live a health lifestyle by eating a balanced diet and participating in routine physical activity.