by Liz McRae, MD
Melasma causes unimaginable pain and suffering. I know this first-hand as a doctor and healer. My patients present with a variety of conditions that cause self-doubt and melasma is absolutely a condition that can affect people personally and professionally. The good news is that I have a very successful approach at my practice (McRae MD Laser Spa in Boerne, Texas) that involves a three-part process that is attainable and effective. A long-term improvement requires a long-term treatment plan and is certainly worth the time and commitment towards lifting the self-doubt that affects so many with this really emotionally wrenching pigment disorder that is ubiquitous–especially in sunny Texas.
An overabundance of active melanin pigment in the skin is thought to be hormonally mediated. Pregnancy often triggers this condition and therefore, more women than men are affected by melasma. You may have heard “mask of pregnancy” when referring to melasma and doctors refer to it as hyperpigmentation. Some studies suggest that progesterone instead of estrogen is the culprit hormone; and, HRT and medications that result in sensitivity to sunlight can also increase the risk. Even medications prescribed to treat ovarian and thyroid conditions as well as some cosmetics can contribute to the development of melasma.
I consider this an ageless condition and, as always, remind my patients that the sun truly is the enemy in so many ways. You have read in my previous columns and television interviews where I continually reinforce the need to protect oneself from harmful sun rays to minimize aging and mitigate disease. Now you know that the same holds true for the potential of increasing the risk of developing melasma.
As always, I source the very best sunscreens available and this is a continual commitment at my practice. We are in constant research mode monitoring and making product and therapy decisions based on technology and new ingredient formulations. Our medical grade sunscreens are FDA monitored for effectiveness and safety. The same scrutiny does not hold true for over-the-counter or homemade products. Sunscreen is the cornerstone of therapy.
This is where I proudly climb up on my soapbox and urge you to remember that light is all around us. For example: UVA, UVB, and infra-red includes indoor lighting, computer screens, TVs, cellphones, and more that you may not be aware can increase your exposure and likelihood to increase the aging process and develop melasma. Treatments at our practice are comprehensive programs that are specific to each patient’s needs.
As a board certified Internist of many years, I can tell you that the personal and professional satisfaction I experience when my team of experts and I are able to heal someone’s emotional state and attitude about how they appear on the “outside” by administering proven therapies is so incredibly rewarding. As I always say: we have the great blessing of living longer due to technology and medical advancements; yet, women who statistically live longer than men continue to be the backbone of their families, communities, and perform as professional and spiritual leaders. I am so invested in providing as much information and guidance as possible focused on women’s health, longevity and well-being. And, let’s not forget the fun too!
Until next time, remember:
How old you are is your business. How young you look is mine.