The short answer is no. But, it is a optional treatment for decreasing the appearance substantially. Unfortunatley, it take yearly maintenance and it is costly. If you'd like to consider it, continue reading my personal experience with the treatments.
The effect on my self-esteem
When I was searching for a fitness trainer, I couldn't help but measure what my potential would be to their own physical achievements. The trainer looks like Jennifer Aniston?! Sign me up! I believe the same holds true for skin, so I needed to make sure I looked the part. Even, glowing skin. Well, I started developing brown spots and patches on my face. I no longer felt I looked the part of a skincare therapist. The had to eventually learn to accept what I could not change. Below is my skin journey.
Five or so years ago, small brown spots appeared on my upper cheekbones. They were annoying, but I was able to conceal them with light makeup, so it didn't bother me so much. One side was darker than the other, so I made sure to tilt my head toward the "good side" for pictures. I accepted they were due to my younger years of neglecting to wear sun protection. I have fair, thin skin. Which according to my research and fellow therpists, is prone to brown spots. It seemed a product called Hydroquinone (reported to be cancer causing) was the only way to fade the brown. Besides the threat to the health, it would also be a lifelong commitment. Once you stop using it, the brown returns. So I accepted my two little brown spots and continued to take preventative measures to avoid any more. I continued with quality skincare products, such as Dermalogica.
About 4 years ago I got pregnant. I read about the nausea, heart burn, flushing etc. But something big started changing in my skin.....I had a brown mustache! Two big brown patches on my upper lip. It stared me in the face every time I looked in the mirror. When I spoke with people, I felt like I needed to explain that it was NOT hair. I had been wearing sun protection and a hat EVERY DAY since the brown spots on my cheekbones appeared. The worst part, was not wanting to take photos with my husband and children because I felt like a man. All I can say is, the struggle is real. I feel for others with a skin conditions that causes them to not make eye contact. I never personally suffered from acne issues, but always felt for my clients who did. I could really empathize with them now.
What caused the "mustache"?
What's the difference betewwn HYPERPIGMENTATION and MELASMA? One is caused by UV Ray's and one is caused by hormones.
Hyperpigmentation is caused by UV Rays. The skin senses the UV and triggers melanocites to produces a brown pigment to protect the skin from damage. You can prevent this by wearing sun protection products and clothing.
Melasma is triggered by hormone fluctuation (ie. pregnancy, menopause, birth control) When a particular hormone is released it signals the melanocites to spit out patches of brown pigment randomly. You'll see it on the cheeks and upper lip most often. Because it is not triggered by UV Rays, protecting the skin from the sun has no impact.
Why I considered IPL
All the research I found was less than hopeful. Eventually I found a Medical Spa, Plastic Surgeon Montreal (NOT a MediSpa. In a Medical Spa there is a dermatologist on staff.) that had good on-line reviews. During my first visit I had a consulation with Amanda Kuschak. I told her I was a skincare therapist from the get go, and that I was not interested in using Hydroquinone based on the bad rep it had. She explained due to misuse (over use) by MediSpa's it has become a concern for Health Canada. She informed me, as of August 2018, 4% Hydroquinone will no longer be available, but it will be available in 2% dosages. When used properly (4 months on, 4 months off) it could be beneficial and not harmful to the health. It was no longer as scary I previously believed, but not an option while breast feeding. Option 2 was Laser Treatments. 1 treatment every other week, for 4 weeks, to notice a substantial improvement.
Six treatments later the brown had decreased by over 50%, but I still have the brown shadow on my upper lip. Like most skin diseases, there is no cure. It is chronic, like grade 2-5 acne. If you stop treatments or medication it will return. My technician, Amanda Kuschak, described it like putting a plug over a gushing water hose. Once you remove the plug, it will return because the water never actually stops.
Is it painful? It's uncomfortable, but not bad enough for me to forgo the treatments. I was not able to use numbing creams because I was breast feeding at the time.
What to expect- After the treatment you will look and feel like you got a sun burn. Blasting the AC on my face during the drive home provided some relief. My skin felt like sand paper for the first day. The skin will continue to shed the brown pigmented skin for the following week. Skin sensitivity is gone within a few hours, I was able to use the Mint Exfoliating Polish by the evening.
I will continue my skin maintenance with organic, vitamin C rich products and IPL treatments. I will also continue to learn to love who I am, and not what I look like. Some things are out of our control. Some things are out of my control. If my years of experience from treating customers can help you through your skin journey, I'm only a email away.