The quest for a smooth, glowing complexion has made cosmetic procedures a $10 billion a year business. Two of the most popular non-surgical skin treatments are lasers and microdermabrasion. It is because almost all of us will face the skin issue of hyperpigmentation as we age.
51-year-old Terri Pavlovich of Moss Bluff is like 90 percent of the female population. "When I got into my late 40s," said Terri, "I started seeing the brown spots, pigmentation."
Those unsightly spots, known as hyperpigmentation affect almost all women, especially as we age. Aesthetician Venisa Prudhomme with West Cal-Cam's ENT and Aesthetic Center says, "The body will produce excess melanin in response to hormonal fluctuations or trauma to the skin."
Prudhomme and fellow aesthetician Andie Spell say hyperpigmentation is one of the main complaints they hear from women, young and old and from all ethnic backgrounds. "It can be brown patches, brown spots. It can range from actually gray to brown to dark brown," said Prudhomme.
Here is what is at work: inside the skin are cells called melanocytes. Those cells produce melanin, which gives the skin its color. Too much melanin is called hyperpigmentation. "Anything that is not your global complexion, a smooth overall look," said Spell.
The cause could be skin inflammation, certain medications like birth controls, iron overload and the biggest: sun exposure.
When Terri was ready to normalize her skin tone, she decided to first do a laser treatment. "It targets any active melanocytes that's going on in your dermis and then it brings them up to the surface," said Spell.
Next it was microdermabrasion. "It sloughs off the top layer of dead skin cells, so as the skin resurfacing treatments are bringing that pigment up to the surface," said Prudhomme, "I am exfoliating them off."
Terri's total skin resurfacing package alternates five laser treatments and five microdermabrasions. She says it did not take long to see results. "After the first two microderms, I really noticed a big change in my skin and how it felt," said Terri.
Prevention is part of Terri's maintenance plan and it is something every person can do - cleansing your skin twice a day, using a toner, moisturizer and sunscreen. "Anything that I can do instead of going under the knife," said Terri, "if I can take care of my skin and use a good sunscreen and good products, I'll have good results with it."
The price of the skin resurfacing package like Terri got is $1,800. There are several over-the-counter creams you can purchase to lighten hyperpigmentation, but many of these give just a temporary fix.