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Hyperpigmentation Treatment in Charleston, SC | Réforme Dermatology & Aesthetics

What Is Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is the term for an area of skin that has become darker than a person’s natural skin tone as the result of excess melanin production. Melanin is responsible for giving your skin its unique color and tone. Hyperpigmentation is a general term for brown spots, birthmarks, age spots, sunspots, liver spots, freckles, acne scarring, and melasma. While benign hyperpigmentation can be cosmetically bothersome for many people. It can be difficult to cover with cosmetics, and it takes away from the appearance of smooth, skin. 

If you’re interested in seeking treatment for hyperpigmentation, contact Réforme Dermatologist in Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Johns Island, Daniel Island, and James Island. Our expert dermatologists are highly trained to diagnose and treat hyperpigmentation on any skin tone or color.

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What Can Cause Hyperpigmentation?

A variety of factors can cause an increase in melanin production, but the primary causes include unprotected sun exposure, hormonal changes or imbalances, age, skin injuries (acne, scrapes, cuts), or inflammation. Darker skin types are more prone to hyperpigmentation.

Sun and Hyperpigmentation

Sun exposure is the number one cause of melanin overproduction and hyperpigmentation. Sunlight triggers the body’s production of melanin to adapt and protect itself from the environment. Melanin acts as your skin’s natural sunscreen by blocking harmful UV rays. However, excess sun exposure can disrupt this process, resulting in hyperpigmentation. Once dark spots have appeared, sun exposure can exacerbate them by making hyperpigmentation darker and more noticeable.

Hormonal Changes and Hyperpigmentation

Hormonal changes are the primary cause of melasma or chloasma. It’s common among women and is believed to occur when the female hormones estrogen and progesterone stimulate an abundance of melanin when the skin is exposed to the sun. This occurs commonly during pregnancy.

Age and Hyperpigmentation

As we age, the quantity of melanin-producing cells decreases, but the remaining cells increase in size and distribution, causing them to become more noticeable.

Skin Injuries and Hyperpigmentation

As the name suggests, hyperpigmentation may be caused by skin injuries as the result of a cut, burn, chemical burn, acne, inflammatory disease, or dermatitis. The skin is left discolored once the wound has completely healed.

What Are the Different Types of Hyperpigmentation?


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Melasma is a common skin ailment that mainly affects women and is caused by changes in hormone levels, typically during pregnancy or menopause. Exposure to UV radiation and genetics also play a part in the development of melasma. Melasma can present as brownish-gray spots or patches on the face, nose, forehead, chin, and upper lip. It can be a difficult skin ailment to treat and requires the expertise and resources of a dermatologist to treat.


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Sunspots and age spots are flat, pigmented spots on areas of skin that receive the most sun exposure, such as the cheeks, forehead, nose, and hands. Sunspots are caused by unprotected sun exposure from the patient’s past.

Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

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Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or PIH, is caused by inflammatory skin conditions like acne, or rashes. It can also be caused by certain medications, eczema, psoriasis, or other inflammatory skin conditions.

Acne flare-ups are the common cause of PIH. Spots appear as pink, red, purple, brown, or black flat disk-like marks. PIH discoloration can fade over time, but may not fully resolve without treatmen. Sun exposure can cause PIH to reappear or become worse, so it’s essential to wear sunscreen or protective clothing to prevent reoccurrence.

Dr. Vasile Réforme Dermatology & Aesthetics

Schedule a Consultation

Explore the fully customizable and transformative dermatological treatments with double board-certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon Dr. Gabriella Vasile, who combines her extensive knowledge of skin health with her passion for finding innovative reparative and preventative treatments. Dr. Vasile’s collaborative, personalized approach to skin health and vitality meets the specific needs of her patients by utilizing state-of-the-art technology, science-based skincare products, and peer and patient-reviewed techniques and treatments. 

With a keen aesthetic eye and precision, Dr. Vasile creates balanced and natural results for a variety of aging and skin-related concerns while prioritizing patient comfort and safety. Schedule your consultation today and experience a self-esteem boost with beautiful, healthy, vibrant skin.

What Are Common Treatments for Hyperpigmentation?

The best methods for treating hyperpigmentation include prescription topical creams, skin resurfacing treatments, skin resurfacing treatments, or a combination of both. Depending on the type of hyperpigmentation, your expert dermatologist at Réforme Dermatology & Aesthetics will examine your skin, diagnose the cause of your hyperpigmentation, and prescribe a treatment plan.

  • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), including glycolic acid, chemically exfoliate the skin to help break apart hyperpigmentation over time.
  • Hydroquinone is a topical skin-lightening agent that is used for patients with melasma, liver spots, age spots, and freckles. It works by disrupting the production of melanin in the skin, which leads to discoloration.
  • Retinoids are a form of vitamin A that helps to rejuvenate the tone and texture of your skin. It is the active ingredient found in Tretinoin creams and medications. 
  • Azelaic acid acts as an exfoliant to promote skin cell turnover, unclog pores, and diminish discoloration. It also has mild anti-inflammatory properties to keep potential acne breakouts away.

Chemical peels are a cosmetic treatment that improve the tone, texture, and clarity of the skin on the face, neck, chest, and hands. During a chemical peel, an acid solution is applied to the treatment area and left to sit for a monitored amount of time. The controlled chemical exfoliation of the outer layer of skin allows for the growth of new, more evenly toned skin.

What to Expect from Your Hyperpigmentation Treatment?

On the day of your appointment, you’ll need to arrive with clean makeup-free skin. A provider will first begin by diagnosing your specific type of hyperpigmentation, followed by a discussion about your medical history and aesthetic goals. Once your hyperpigmentation has been determined, they may prescribe a topical treatment and provide you with explicit instructions on how to use it.

Thoroughly following instructions is essential to a successful treatment. These directions will include how much product to use, when to use it, and how to use it in conjunction with your regular skincare products. If a skin resurfacing treatment is recommended, your skin will be cleansed to remove any cosmetics, oils, lotions, debris, or bacteria. Treatments take place in a patient-centric suite tailored to their comfort. Your treatment will be conducted by a dermatologist who will guide you through the entire process. Once your treatment is complete, the skin is treated with a unique formula of invigorating skincare products that aid in the repair and rejuvenation of the skin.

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Is There a Recovery Period After a Hyperpigmentation Treatment?

Some topical and skin resurfacing treatments can involve some degree of recovery. Topical creams and chemical peels exfoliate the surface of the skin, leading to a short peeling process. During this time, the skin may appear red, irritated, flakey, or peel. It’s important not to intervene with this process by exfoliating with any kind of tool, such as a facial brush, washcloth, or dermaplaning device. Instead, allow the skin to fall off naturally. Gently wash your skin with a non-abrasive face wash using the pads of your fingers and gentle pressure. Pat your skin dry with a clean, sanitary towel. Then, apply your treatment and moisturizer using gentle pressure with your fingertips and avoid over-rubbing the product. An SPF of 50 or higher should be applied every morning and reapplied throughout the day. Sun protection is crucial.

Ready to Schedule Your Hyperpigmentation Treatment at Réforme Dermatology in Charleston, SC?

If you’re tired of trying to cover up dark spots, sunspots, melasma, or discoloration caused by acne, a professional hyperpigmentation treatment can help. Dr. Gabriella Vasile at Réforme Dermatology & Aesthetics is a double board-certified dermatologist and Mohs micrographic surgeon who can expertly diagnose and treat hyperpigmentation and melasma in patients of all skin types and colors.

Contact Réforme Dermatology & Aesthetics today to schedule your consultation and receive a professional diagnosis and personalized treatment plan to restore a youthful, even-toned complexion you can feel confident in.