Can Microneedling Improve My Melasma?

Apr 02, 2024
Can Microneedling Improve My Melasma?
Melasma may be harmless, but the dark patches and spots it leaves on your facial skin can make you feel self-conscious. Learn how microneedling accelerates melasma treatment results, helping you restore healthier, more uniform skin faster.  

Melasma is a harmless skin condition characterized by the appearance of dark patches or freckle-like spots, typically on the face. Most cases happen when higher estrogen levels and increased exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light trigger an overproduction of melanocytes or the melanin cells that give your skin its color. 

If you’ve been dealing with melasma for a while, you’ve probably noticed that it gets worse in the summer and better in the winter. You may also wonder how you can restore a uniform skin tone — and make its complexion-marring hyperpigmentation diminish or disappear. 

Our seasoned team of board-certified dermatologists at Florida Dermatology Associates can help. Here, we discuss the ins and outs of melasma and explain how a series of customized microneedling treatments may help you minimize its appearance. 

Understanding “the mask of pregnancy”

Dark melasma patches and spots are often referred to as “the mask of pregnancy” because that’s when the skin condition emerges most often — during pregnancy. It’s also more common among women who take hormonal contraceptive medications.     

What it is like

Melasma stems from the Greek word melas, meaning black. Loosely translated, melasma means “black spot.” While melasma is harmless — and its pigmented patches don’t have the potential to turn cancerous — it can make you feel self-conscious about your appearance. 

Melasma typically causes light brown, dark brown, or blue-gray areas of skin discoloration. It can emerge as flat patches or freckle-like spots and usually appears on the face — particularly on the forehead, cheeks, nose, upper lip, and chin. Less commonly, it may appear on the neck and forearms.

Why it occurs

Melasma happens when something sends the skin’s melanocytes into overdrive. Pregnancy, hormonal birth control, and hormone replacement therapy are commonly associated with melasma because female sex hormones (i.e., estrogen) can strongly trigger increased melanin cell activity. 

The sun’s UV light rays are another trigger, which helps explain why melasma often worsens in the summer and improves in the winter. Medications, cosmetics, and skin care products that irritate the skin or cause a phototoxic reaction that makes your skin more sensitive to light can also stimulate aggressive melanocyte activity.  

Who it affects

About 90% of the people who get melasma are women, most of whom are 20-40 years old, in their peak reproductive years. The condition is more likely to emerge in brown skin or skin that tans easily and less likely to appear in fair skin. 

 Melasma is especially common during pregnancy, affecting up to half of all expectant women. Like all cases of melasma, pregnancy-induced melasma may go away on its own, or it may persist for years.    

Standard treatment options for melasma  

Just as it’s impossible to know whether a specific case of melasma will resolve on its own or persist long-term, no dermatological treatments can cure the condition. Instead, melasma management aims to decrease melanocyte activity and even your skin tone. The first step? Determining the depth and type of your melasma:  

  • Epidermal melasma is in the uppermost skin layer; it responds well to treatment
  • Dermal melasma is in the middle skin layer and doesn’t respond well to treatment
  • Mixed melasma affects both skin layers and shows some response to treatment 

In all cases, sun protection is the first line of defense against melasma. UV light worsens existing melasma and can cause new patches to appear; proper sun protection can go a long way in fading melasma and preventing its return. 

We also prescribe a topical medication to help decrease the excess pigments in the skin areas affected by melasma. It’s essential to stop using any hormonal medications or phototoxic skin care products that may be contributing to the problem.  

Improving melasma with microneedling

Standard melasma care doesn’t provide instant results. While wearing camouflage makeup can help you hide the problem during its gradual fade, advanced treatments can help accelerate your melasma-fading results. 

One of these techniques is microneedling, also known as collagen induction therapy. This minimally invasive skin renewal approach uses a pen-like device fitted with sterile needles to create tiny microchannels across your skin. 

Microneedling triggers a cascade of healing responses within your upper and middle skin tissues driven by a complexion-transforming influx of fresh collagen and elastin proteins. 

On its own, microneedling promotes healthier skin with a more uniform tone; as a melasma treatment, it helps accelerate the tone-evening results of sun protection and skin-lightening topical medications. Most people see optimal melasma-diminishing results after microneedling treatments, with several weeks between sessions. 

Our team can determine if microneedling is right for your melasma type; other advanced melasma treatment options include chemical peels and laser treatments.    

Are you tired of living with melasma? Call your nearest Florida Dermatology Associates office in Palm Bay, Cocoa Beach, Cocoa, Melbourne, Titusville, or Rockledge, Florida, today, or click online to book an appointment anytime.