March 24, 2020 Is Microdermabrasion Effective for Melasma?
One treatment for melasma which can help improve pigmented skin is microdermabrasion. Melasma is a common skin ailment characterized by hyperpigmentation, enlarged melanin cells called melanocytes, an increase in the number of melanin cells, and an increase in blood vessels in the face. Standard treatment usually consists of topical therapy that includes hydroquinone, tretinoin, corticosteroids, or combinations of all three. Treatment is not limited to topical medications, though. Various procedures, such as chemical peels, laser therapy, and more can improve the appearance of dark patches on the skin.
What Is Microdermabrasion?
- fallout from excessive sun exposure,
- stretch marks,
- irregular or uneven skin tone,
- and melasma
Like these other common skin problems, melasma affects the epidermis or outer layer of the skin, and it is therefore treatable using such an minimally invasive procedure as microdermabrasion. This outpatient procedure does not require the use of anesthesia and can be performed by dermatologists, plastic surgeons, and PAs alike.
The procedure itself uses a tool with an abrasive end to exfoliate the outer layer of the skin and stimulate new skin cell growth.
One version of the procedure deploys fine particles into the skin which are later removed via vacuum.
The epidermis that forms after the procedure has less of the discoloration and hyperpigmentation characteristic of melasma.
Microdermabrasion is a safe and effective cosmetic skin care procedure with applications for treating melasma (Ogbechie-Godec).
Just How Effective Is Microdermabrasion For Melasma?
In conjunction with topical and/or oral treatment, microdermabrasion is considered to be an effective treatment for melasma. Combination therapy is an effective approach toward melasma because it addresses the plurality of underlying causes.
Microdermabrasion has been shown to conclusively remove the outermost layer of the skin associated with melasma with little to no damage to underlying skin (Gill).
This removal is synonymous with a softening of the appearance of hyperpigmentation.
This establishes microdermabrasion as a definitive and effective tool for treating hyperpigmentation and melasma, especially when used alongside some of the other aforementioned treatments.
It is especially attractive to patients because it results in fewer side effects than other procedural treatments such as the chemical peel. Note that results are maintained with subsequent treatments.
How Much Does Microdermabrasion Cost?
The cost of the procedure is a relevant consideration relative to other treatment.
The procedure can range from $100 to $200 per treatment, and many skin care professionals will often recommend multiple sessions to effectively treat melasma since this condition is generally slow to respond to treatment (Alai).
As it is considered a cosmetic procedure, it will often not be covered by insurance. It is significantly less expensive than some other procedural treatments for melasma, especially laser therapy.
Less effective versions of microdermabrasion are available as take home treatment kits. These often use an abrasive cream which acts as the exfoliator. These kits can cost anywhere from $10 to $100, depending on the instruments and agents used.
What Other Benefits Can I Expect From Microdermabrasion?
Microdermabrasion has a variety of cosmetic applications. To name a few, it can treat:
- Acne scars
- Stretch marks
- Premature aging of the skin
- Enlarged pores
It can also improve skin health in a variety of ways. It also results in increased collagen and decreased facial oil.
Furthermore, because the procedure has proven its ability to remove the outer layers of the skin, it has the added benefit of making topical applications of medication more effective. This enhances its status as an adjunct therapy among skin care professionals.
What Are Some Potential Downsides Of Microdermabrasion?
One of the primary reasons a skin care professional will elect for this treatment is because of its relative lack of risk and harm. However, there are some associated, minor negative effects immediately after the treatment. These can include:
- Increased sensitivity to sunlight
- A stinging sensation
Because of the increased sensitivity to sunlight, extra precautions should be taken to avoid exposure to UV rays following treatment.
How Might Melasma Be Prevented?
Unfortunately, melasma is often caused by uncontrollable factors such as:
- Skin type
However, prevention is still a critical component in dealing with existing melasma – especially while you are treating it with microdermabrasion. While the condition is caused by a variety of factors, one which is both highly culpable and preventable is direct exposure to ultraviolet sunlight. It is responsible for aggravating existing hyperpigmentation and undoing the progress you have made towards achieving a clear complexion.
Any effective melasma treatment includes the daily use of a broad spectrum sunscreen. Sunscreen labeled as such has been required by the FDA since 2011 to protect against the two types of UV radiation (A and B) that are linked to the kind of skin damage linked to melasma.
Notably, UVA—the radiation most responsible for the kind of damage linked to melasma—is present during all daylight hours, and it is as present in direct sunlight as it is with overcast. This means that sunscreen is warranted at unintuitive moments, and it should likely be used more often than not.
Research suggests that physical UV blockers like iron oxide result in a lower melasma relapse rate over broad spectrum sunscreens that do not contain sunlight blockers.
What Is The Best Way To Treat Melasma?
Many treatments can be used in conjunction with each other for optimal results, one of which can include microdermabrasion. That being said, microdermabrasion is not considered to be the best melasma treatment on its own, so it often plays a supportive role in treating the condition.
In addition, one aspect of microdermabrasion which might detract some prospective patients is the number of visits needed for the procedure to be effective. ClearifiRx’s topical treatment does not require regular visits to the dermatologist and has the added benefit of being far less expensive: the microdermabrasion costs mentioned earlier pale in comparison. Our prescription-strength cream is customized to meet every patient’s particular needs.
Since melasma has so many potential contributing causes, having a licensed professional to assess and manage your treatment is a necessity to achieve and maintain optimal results. ClearifiRx can help dispel the misunderstandings, confusion, steep prices and time-intensive visits to dermatology clinics. Our treatments are prescribed by board certified dermatologists, offering the same expertise you can expect from a traditional dermatologist.
- Alai NN. Microdermabrasion Treatment for Wrinkles & Acne Scars. MedicineNet. https://www.medicinenet.com/microdermabrasion/article.htm#what_is_microdermabrasion. Published June 12, 2018. Accessed March 18, 2020.
- Breaking Down Broad-Spectrum Protection. The Skin Cancer Foundation. https://www.skincancer.org/blog/broad-spectrum-protection-sunscreen/. Published June 28, 2018. Accessed March 18, 2020.
- Gill HS, Andrews SN, Sakthivel SK, et al. Selective removal of stratum corneum by microdermabrasion to increase skin permeability. Eur J Pharm Sci. 2009;38(2):95–103. doi:10.1016/j.ejps.2009.06.004 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0928098709001791
- Ogbechie-Godec OA, Elbuluk N. Melasma: an Up-to-Date Comprehensive Review. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2017;7(3):305–318. doi:10.1007/s13555-017-0194-1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28726212
- Shah M, Crane JS. Microdermabrasion. [Updated 2020 Jan 13]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535383/