Melasma San Diego



Melasma is an acquired skin disorder characterized by hyperpigmentation or brown macules and patches most commonly seen in areas of skin that are easily exposed to sunlight. Although melasma can appear on the skin of both men and women, it is more common for women to develop melasma during pregnancy, especially women with darker skin tones.

In fact, according to an academic review on melasma published in 2021, melasma affects up to 5 million Americans. Although melasma is not a harmful condition, it can be a chronic, long-lasting condition. If left untreated, melasma can increase in surface area, density, and darkness.

Melasma causes

There is currently no definitive evidence for what causes melasma. We can, however, help you understand genetic and hormonal influences, and how exposure to sunlight can affect melasma.

Epidemiology of melasma

It is widely known and accepted that melasma occurs in the entire population. But according to peer-reviewed epidemiological studies published by the American Academy of Dermatology, melasma occurs more often in darker skin tones. This is likely a result of melanin, the pigment that gives skin a darker color. In other words, melasma can occur when genetic or environmental factors triggers too much melanin production.

melasma san diego

Genetic influence of melasma

Genetics may be one of the driving forces predisposing individuals to melasma. In a report published in 2020 by the Cleveland Clinic, 33-55% of people with melasma have a relative who also has it. In fact, they also reported that most identical twins will both have melasma. While it is impossible to avoid or correct your genetics, it is possible to correct and reduce melasma from developing further.

Hormonal influences of melasma

In women, the most common cause of developing melasma is pregnancy. Sometimes it disappears after giving birth, however, this is not always the case. Melasma induced by pregnancy is thought to happen because pregnancy remodels the body’s entire hormone composition. Similarly, hormonal birth control pills may also cause melasma.

Sunlight exposure and melasma

Sunlight damages our skin because UV radiation from the sun induces the release of free radicals. Consequently, these free radicals in our skin then cause excessive production of melanin. Since San Diego gets a lot of sun exposure, we see many patients that develop melasma from sun exposure.

Melasma face

Melasma on the face is the leading cause for individuals to seek care from a skincare professional. Affected areas include the nose bridge, cheeks, forehead, chin, or above the upper lip.

Melasma treatment

Professional treatment for chronic melasma is often a combination of topical creams and sun exposure protection. Often times, dermatologists will recommend the following treatments:

Topical ointments or medicine

Topical medicine applied to the surface of the skin helps even out skin tone and pigmentation. Depending on whether you need skin lightening, your dermatologist may prescribe hydroquinone or tretinoin and corticosteroids. However, these treatments don’t always yield visible results or can cause skin irritation that limits use.

Chemical skin peels

Chemical skin peeling is also a treatment option for melasma. These chemical peels are usually glycolic, salicylic acid-based treatments, TCA or Jessner’s solution that are meant to increase the growth of new skin cells. However, due to the harsh nature of these chemicals, skin peeling usually requires close observation. We recommend trial runs on small patches of skin to make sure that the chemicals are not burning or harming your skin.

Laser therapy

Laser therapy treatment is by far the most advanced treatment for chronic melasma conditions. In the past, laser treatments were too harsh because they used thermal energy, or heat, to fractionize pigment particles in the skin. However, new technology with pulsed laser energy (not heat) prevents unwanted scarring, uneven discoloration, or burning on the skin.

Pico laser for melasma

Pico laser is a unique, non-invasive, and progressive type of picosecond laser. This technology delivers extremely fast bursts of energy to the skin on the order of a trillionth of a second. In addition, it penetrates multiple layers of the skin without inducing secondary heat. During treatment, the laser directly targets pigmented cells. Then, the pigmented skin cells are broken up, removed and excreted by your lymphatic system. The precision and efficiency of the pico laser makes it the number one preferred treatment for melasma. Over the course of your treatment, you will begin to see the appearance of clear skin and disappearance of pigmentation.

Sometimes, patients with melasma are concerned that laser therapy will lead to unwanted scarring or induce more pigmentation. However, pico laser removes melasma without adverse long-term effects on your skin. An article from the Dermatology Times reported that after six months, patients treated with picosecond laser therapy did not present negative side effects and maintained little to no density of melasma on their treated skin.

Pico Laser for melasma on face

Pico laser for hyperpigmentation

Pico laser is effective for various types of skin conditions. This therapy is recommended for hyperpigmentation, for acne scarring, fine lines, and even for tattoo ink removal.

Pico laser therapy has been shown to deliver safe, efficient, and revolutionary results for patients wanting to remove skin hyperpigmentation. Because it is so effective (and gentle enough) for hyperpigmentation removal on facial skin, it is often the preferred treatment by many cosmetic physicians.

Melasma treatment san diego

Pico laser therapy for melasma removal is offered at Aesthetica Med Spa of San Diego. Our doctors excel as experts and educators in pico laser therapy for melasma and other skin conditions. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation appointment!

Melasma San Diego FAQ

Can melasma be prevented?
Because the cause of melasma has not been narrowed down to one factor, there is no definitive way to prevent melasma. The best thing you can do to protect your skin from melasma or unwanted pigmentation is to protect your skin from direct sun exposure. Also, please keep in mind that leading causes for developing melasma may vary by individual.
What sunscreen is most effective at protecting me from melasma?
To robustly protect your skin from skin damage and to reduce a melasma flare up, dermatologists recommend mineral sunscreens that block ultraviolet and visible light. You can find a list of recommended sunscreens for melasma here.
Is Pico laser safe and pain-free for melasma removal?
Yes! Pico laser may cause some discomfort during the treatment, but it is not painful and does not damage, irritate, or inflame the skin. Research-based and clinical studies have reported that picosecond lasers (the technology for Pico Laser) are by far the most advanced and efficient methods for melasma removal.
What is the downtime after pico laser melasma removal?
Pico laser treatments do not require any downtime! You can resume your daily routine without interruptions after pico laser therapy. Your clinician will discuss proper aftercare instructions with you, but you will not need to take time off from work or school.


1. Picosecond laser more effective for dacial melasma
Publisher: Dermatology Times
Publication date: October 15, 2018

2. Melasma
Publisher: Cleveland Clinic
Publication date: July 27, 2020

3. How Effective Is PicoSure Laser For Melasma Removal?
Publisher: Dr. Neal Kumar
Publication date: April 8, 2020