Many people rarely use the term pigmented lesion. We prefer to use the more common names – a flat mole, birthmark, freckles or sun spots. However, we may know these common terms but how many people understand what causes them or whether they can be treated.
A pigmented lesion is caused by an excess of melanin in certain skin cells (melanin is the substance that gives skin its colour). Some diseases and infections can also cause pigmentation of the skin. So, if you have any concerns about an imperfection on your skin and have so far refused to share your concern with anyone, why not take the plunge and see what can be done about it.
Can they be treated?
Pigmented lesions can be treated. This is done by using lasers. In the past, bleaching products might have been used to lighten these lesions, but mainly with poor or short term effect. While initially, lasers and IPL devices were primarily used for hair removal treatments, they quickly became adapted for rejuvenation techniques including the reduction and removal of benign pigmented lesions.
How does the treatment work?
Lasers work by delivering an intense beam of light that is absorbed by the melanin in the skin. The light is converted to heat and is absorbed by the cells being targeted, thus destroying them, while leaving the surrounding normal skin unaffected
What are the risks and benefits of having laser treatment?
Dr Sina Salimi has been undertaking laser treatment at his Chertsey-based practice – Estetica – for many years and is clear about the message that needs to be sent out. He said; "The results of laser treatment depend on the depth of the melanin and the colour of the lesion and are, to some degree, unpredictable. Trying a test patch is advisable, but may not always be practical if the treated area is very small."
Several treatments may be required as successfully treated lesions may recur. People also need to understand that some lesions do not disappear completely, but will be significantly lighter in colour after treatment.
Laser treatment can make the underlying skin colour darker or lighter. If the skin is made lighter, this may be permanent. Caution is needed when treating darker-skinned people as permanent hypopigmentation (lightening) may occur. To reduce the risk of pigmentation changes, SFP 30 sunblock should be worn for at least 6 weeks after treatment. You should avoid excessive sun exposure for a further 6 months.
Blistering and crusting of skin can sometime occur. If this happens, you must not pick or scratch the area to avoid permanent scarring.
What kind of preparation is required ahead of treatment?
You should avoid the sun for 4-6 weeks before and after treatment, and during any treatment courses. You may develop hypopigmentation (white spots) after treatment if skin is tanned. The use of self- tanning products must be discontinued one week before treatment.
What happens after treatment?
Immediately after the treatment, there will be redness and swelling on the treatment site which may last up to two hours or longer. The treated lesion will appear darker in colour and may look shrivelled. This is normal. The area can be cooled using cold compresses. Aloe vera gel is also applied to the lasered area.
If you need advice about a mole or birthmark get in touch with Dr Salimi or one of his team at Estetica or call them on 01932 570099.
If you’ve had a birthmark removed or any kind of laser treatment, what was your experience and do you have any advice for our readers? Why not post a comment below or look us up on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.