I recently attended and presented information at the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS) annual meeting held in Boston. The ASLMS is the premier society for doctors and scientists specializing in the use of lasers and energy-based devices for medicine. Most (if not all) of the greatest advances in laser and device-based dermatology in the past 20 years have been presented at this meeting. Laser tattoo removal, skin rejuvenation, non-surgical skin tightening, fat removal, and the laser treatment of birthmarks are but a few of the groundbreaking procedures that were presented at ASLMS. This year, there were many exciting developments.
The one I was particularly interested in bringing to my own practice is the treatment of stubborn melasma with a combination of microdermabrasion, low-energy laser and topical lightening creams. Melasma or the “mask of pregnancy” affects millions of women and is seen as discolored patches most commonly on the forehead, cheeks, chin, and upper lip. It is related to genetics, hormones and sun exposure; once it develops, it can be a persistent problem. Although most women respond to sun avoidance, sunscreen use, topical lighteners and chemical peels, there are some cases that are particularly difficult. For these women, this new treatment protocol may be helpful.
Developed by Dr. Arielle Kauvar, the technique uses a light microdermabrasion to help exfoliate the skin, low energy laser to reduce the production of pigment in the skin and topical lighteners at home to further even out skin tone. There is no pain or recovery associated with the technique and most women noticed improvements within two or three treatments. Although this combination technique has the potential to help thousands of women, there is no cure for melasma; therefore, good sun protection with a hat and sunscreen will always be needed to reduce the risk of recurrence.