In a world full of choice, important decisions have perhaps, never been more difficult to make. Who would have thought twenty years ago, that too much information would be a thing. Now, we live in a world where anyone can boast on social media that they are the best. In British Columbia, the laser and light industry is largely unregulated; unless you’re a physician! That means that any old spa can buy a laser and start treating serious skin conditions with little more than a day or two of training by the manufacturers sales people.
So how do we help patients make decisions? One word. Education. We tell all of our patients this. Ask questions. Check credentials!
Look for a practice that is Physician Directed. Then check to see that the Doctor / Medical Director actually works there. Many clinics set up with a Medical Director who visits weekly, bi-weekly or almost never. Once you have established that, as what experience the medical director has. Are they actually an Aesthetic Doctor? What credentials and training do the staff have. How many treatments have they done, over what period of time. What skin analysis procedures are in place? Hint, putting a coloured piece of paper against your face is NOT a skin analysis! Ask to see photographs of THEIR clients. If they hit up google…RUN!
At Whistler Medical Aesthetics EVERY patient goes through a a very thorough in person consultation. Our consultations typically last about one hour. During that hour we record a medical history, and get to the root of the problem/s that are effecting you, and how you feel. We will take photographs; normally quite a few. We will put you on our skin analysis system called Visia. The Visia multi-spectral imaging and analysis provides a clear, multi-dimensional portrait of the individual aspects of your complexion, which contribute to your overall appearance.
We do all of this before to ensure that before we prescribe any skincare or laser treatment that we are not applying laser technology to a potential skin cancer, or that there are no underlying dermatological conditions, such as Hyperpigmentation. Often times, we can treat hyperpigmentation with Physician Grade Skincare. And that has what we did for the gentleman in the main picture. Physician Skincare is the highest grade skincare available anywhere. At Whistler Medical Aesthetics we use predominantly Zo Skinhealth, iS Clinical which is only available to Physicians in Canada.
What is Hyperpigmentation
Call them what you may, sun spots, age spots, liver spots, acne stains, pregnancy mask and melasma are all part of one category: hyperpigmentation.
Hyperpigmentation is the result of an overproduction of melanin, and is more often than not triggered by external stimuli by either the sun, trauma or hormones; often from pregnancy. Melanin is found throughout the body and is responsible for the colour of our hair, eyes and skin. Fair skinned people tend to make very little melanin while darker skinned individuals make more. Melanin is produced by specialized cells called melanocytes, which are among the cells primarily found in the outermost layer of the skin. After melanin is produced, it spreads and is evenly distributed within the skin. However, when the melanocytes get damaged or become unhealthy in some way, the production process can go into overdrive, resulting in an uneven skin tone.
The three most common causes are sun damage, melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
This most common type of hyperpigmentation is caused by overexposure to the sun. Let’s be absolutely clear about this. You should be wearing a high grade SPF EVERY SINGLE DAY! We are sorry to be the bearer of bad news but there is no such thing as a “healthy tan.” That golden beach glow that so many of you work hard for every summer….well that is actually damage leading to cell death. Even when you’re not burning, your sun worshipping behaviour is still harming cells and it will change them FOREVER without intervention.
Did you know that a sun tan is really your body’s natural defense mechanism against the sun. Your tan, is your bodies way of trying to protect itself from something it knows is damaging at a cellular level!
The most common areas to see hyperpigmentation caused by sun damage is on the forehead,cheeks,neck, nose, tops of the shoulders and chest and the back of the hands. One of the most obvious signs of premature ageing in women is on the neck and hands. Areas typically overlooked in skin care regimes! Once a melanocyte has been excited by too much UV exposure, it will continue to overproduce melanin in that area, thus resulting in freckles and spots of darker pigment. The longer this overexposure and excitement goes on, the deeper the damage becomes making it likely you’ll require a more intense treatment like BBL or Halo to remove it for good.
Often referred to as “pregnancy mask,” Melasma is typically caused or exacerbated by the hormonal fluctuations that occur during pregnancy, oral contraceptives, HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and some medications.
This type of pigmentation looks more like patches and is often in a very symmetrical pattern and is most commonly seen across the cheeks and nose, hence the reference to “mask.”
Sometimes, melasma will resolve itself once hormone levels rebalance and return to normal. However, for others, this condition can be frustratingly persistent.
You may have experienced this kind of hyperpigmentation at some point in your life, but it probably didn’t stick around for long. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) occurs most often after acne but also by a trauma to the skin such as cuts, scrapes, blisters and burns or ingrown hairs/folliculitis. Once your body has identified a trauma, it stimulates an inflammatory response, which is there to help the body heal itself after injury or infection.
For some people, their body gets confused, and does not complete the healing process leaving behind reds and browns that can feel unsightly. If the area is exposed to UV rays, it can turn into a harder-to-treat brown spot.