Understanding melasma & why IPL can make it worse

Understanding Melasma & Why IPL Can Make It Worse

3 years ago

Do you suffer from dark patches of pigmentation on your upper lip, across your nose, cheekbones or jawline or on your forehead? If you answered yes, you may have Melasma. This common but chronic (meaning it can last for many years) skin condition is identified by dark brown or greyish patches of pigmentation on the face, typically appearing on the upper lip, nose, cheeks, jawline and forehead. It’s more common than you think and many women suffer with it for years before realising what triggers it and how to treat it effectively and safely.

When treated incorrectly, or when left untreated, Melasma often worsens. There are however, safe and effective treatment options which we will discuss, plus we’ll give you some handy tips to help avoid exacerbating this harmless but confidence-impacting skin condition.


Melasma is a form of darkened pigmentation and can be brought on by UV exposure and hormonal changes. Pregnancy and the oral contraceptive pill are two of the leading causes for this skin condition as both result in hormonal changes. Also called chloasma, people who have it tend to have a more olive or darker complexion and typically live in a sunny climate.


Inexperienced clinics may recommend IPL for treatment, but this would be the worst recommendation you could receive as you may find that your condition actually worsens following treatment.

A critical point to understand is that IPL, although sometimes referred to as a “laser” is in fact not a true laser. A true laser produces a single wavelength with a concentrated beam and specific target. IPL uses a broad spectrum of wavelengths which cannot be focused to a concentrated beam. IPL treatment heats up the surrounding tissue and melanin, with a higher risk of burns on darker skin types and due to the heat produced, can actually stimulate and increase the appearance of the darkened pigmentation and is therefore not recommended.

Find the Eden Laser Clinic that’s closest to you


To ensure you have a correct diagnosis for your skin concern, having your skin assessed by a skin expert is the first step. Once you know exactly what skin condition you are dealing with, you can then take the appropriate steps towards effective treatment. You will be able to investigate and address the underlying causes, for example, do you take the oral contraceptive pill or have you submitted your skin to prolonged UV exposure?

Using a good quality sunscreen daily and wearing a hat when outside will go a long way to help with reducing the appearance of darkened pigmentation. Lightening creams, chemical peels and laser treatments can also be considered as part of a treatment plan, however the gold standard for effective melasma treatment and management that we recommend is the PicoWay laser.


The PicoWay is the latest generation Picosecond laser and the most appropriate treatment for melasma. The unique picosecond speed of the laser creates photo-acoustic energy to shatter the pigment, avoiding the production of heat during treatment.

The PicoWay removes skin pigmentation by delivering ultra-fast pulses of energy, creating a shockwave that fragments the pigment and allows the body’s immune system eliminate the dispersed pigment. Typically, 3 to 4 treatments are required with maintenance treatments to help manage recurrence. The clinicians at Eden Laser Clincs are responsible for explaining the management process thoroughly during your free consultation. Each expertly trained and accredited clinician will assess your skin type and adjust the laser to provide the optimum setting to deliver the results you expect with minimum discomfort.


At Eden Laser Clinic, Sydney’s skin specialists, we offer a free consultation where a skin expert will assess your skin and discuss treatment options with you. We offer personalised skin care strategies to treat your skin concerns. During your free consultation we will discuss with you how many treatments are needed, a written quote with cost and specific information you will need to follow before, during and after your treatment.

Free consultation!