Pigmentation Removal and the Ageing Process

by Dr Wan Chee Kwang
May 15, 2024

As you age, pigmentation can be concerning, seeing how it affects the clarity and radiance of your complexion. 

According to one study, 47.3% of patients feel self-conscious about their skin because of pigmentary disorders, 32.7% felt unattractive because of their skin and 32.7% made efforts to hide pigment changes.

To help you make sense of the discolourations you see over time, we uncover the relationship between pigmentation and the ageing process. We also discuss how to remove pigmentation effectively.  

Ageing skin gradually loses its firmness and elasticity due to declining collagen and elastin production. Sun exposure accumulated over the years can damage the skin cells, causing pigmentation irregularities to take root. 

As the skin ages, it becomes less efficient at repairing itself, making it more susceptible to pigmentation issues.

Age spots (lentigines)

Age spots, also known as liver spots, are flat, brown, or black spots that usually appear on sun-exposed areas of the skin such as the face, hands, shoulders, and arms. They are caused by excessive melanin production in response to UV radiation. These spots are less than 5mm in diameter and slowly increase in size and number. 

Age spots typically develop as people age, hence the name "age spots." While they are primarily associated with ageing skin, they can also form in younger individuals who have experienced significant sun exposure over time.

A rare variant of age spot is ink-spot lentigo. It’s dark, has a wiry, reticular look, and may be confused with melanoma. Ink-spot lentigo usually develops in sun-exposed areas of fair individuals.

Uneven skin tone (dyschromia)

Uneven skin tone refers to discolouration patches or hyperpigmentation resulting from sun damage, hormonal changes, or inflammation. These patches may appear as dark spots or blotches on the skin, giving the complexion a mottled or uneven appearance.

Dyschromia can occur at any age, but it becomes more prevalent and noticeable as individuals age, due to the cumulative effects of the above factors.

Melasma

Melasma commonly affects women and is characterised by brown or greyish patches on the face, particularly on the cheeks, forehead, chin, and upper lip. Hormonal changes related to pregnancy or oral contraceptive use can trigger the development of this pigmentation disorder.

While age may not be the primary cause of melasma, the cumulative effects of sun exposure and hormonal changes over time can worsen existing melasma or contribute to the emergence of new patches. Melasma may gradually fade as sun exposure is reduced

Melasma affects all races but Asians and Hispanics are more likely to develop it.

Seborrheic keratoses

Seborrheic keratoses typically appear in middle-aged or older individuals and become more common with advancing age. While they can occur at any stage of life, they are most prevalent in individuals over 40. They increase in size and number with age. 

These growths can vary in colour from light tan to dark brown and may have a waxy or stuck-on appearance. Seborrheic keratoses are usually less than 1cm in size but can grow to a few centimetres. 

While seborrheic keratoses are harmless, they can contribute to the overall unevenness of the skin tone.

Pigmentation removal treatments

Fortunately, several effective treatments are available for reducing age-related pigmentation issues.

Pico laser

Pico laser treatment uses ultra-short pulses of laser energy to target pigmented cells in the skin without damaging the surrounding tissue. This technology effectively breaks down melanin particles, resulting in a more even skin tone and reduced pigmentation irregularities. 

Pico is a safe laser treatment for all skin types and requires minimal downtime.

Fractional thulium laser

Fractional thulium laser treatment is another option for removing pigmentation. It delivers precise wavelengths of laser energy to the skin, stimulating the generation of new collagen and elastin, improving skin texture and tone while reducing the appearance of pigmentation irregularities. 

Fractional thulium laser treatment is generally well-tolerated and can produce significant results with minimal discomfort and downtime.

Fractional ruby laser

Fractional ruby laser treatment uses pulses of ruby laser light to break down excess melanin responsible for pigmentation irregularities such as age spots, sunspots, and melasma. 

The fractional aspect of the laser treatment means that only a fraction of the skin's surface is treated at a time, leaving surrounding tissue intact, which promotes faster healing and reduces downtime. This precise targeting allows for significant improvement in pigmentation with minimal risk of damage to surrounding skin.

Chemical peels

Chemical peels work by removing the damaged outer layers of the skin, which can help to reduce the appearance of pigmentation irregularities. Different types of chemical peels, such as superficial, medium, or deep peels, may be recommended depending on the severity of the pigmentation concern and the patient's skin type. 

By promoting skin cell turnover and stimulating collagen production, chemical peels can gradually improve skin tone and texture, resulting in a more even and radiant complexion.

Looking for pigmentation removal in Singapore?

Pigmentation is common in ageing individuals, but that does not mean you have to live with it forever. If you are seeking effective solutions for pigmentation concerns, consider exploring the professional pigmentation removal treatments offered at 1Aesthetics. 

We provide laser treatments, including pico laser and fractional thulium laser, to address various pigmentation issues. Our experienced team of experts will design a treatment plan that is customised to your needs, helping you achieve clearer, more radiant skin.

Schedule a consultation for pigmentation removal treatment.

References

  1. Taylor A, Pawaskar M, Taylor SL, Balkrishnan R, Feldman SR. (2008). Prevalence of pigmentary disorders and their impact on quality of life: a prospective cohort study. J Cosmet Dermatol. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18789050/
  2. Vachiramon. (2011). Pigmentary Changes Associated with Skin Aging. The Dermatologist. https://www.hmpgloballearningnetwork.com/site/thederm/site/cathlab/event/pigmentary-changes-associated-skin-aging

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