Many Vancouver patients come in with a pigmentation issue known as melasma. Characterized by patterns of symmetrical discolored tan, brown, or bluish-gray skin, this common condition can appear quite prominently. It is usually seen on the chin, upper lip, forehead, and cheeks.

Types of Melasma

There are several types of melasma. There is dermal melasma, in which the dermal skin layer contains melanophages (melanin-consuming cells). Epidermal melasma is found in the upper skin layers. Some patients have a mix of these. There is melasma that is found in the skin of those with darker skin tones. There is also chloasma, which is melasma experienced by pregnant women.

What Causes Melasma?

Though melasma does not have an exact cause, people experiencing the condition often have many factors in common.

Typically, women are more likely to have melasma than men are. Most commonly, it occurs in women between 20 to 50 years of age, women who have naturally darker skin tone, and women who are pregnant.

Melasma is potentially related to family history, hormone level fluctuations, racial background, use of various medications that cause sensitivity to light, and heavy sun exposure. Skin irritants should be avoided by those who have melasma, as irritants can stimulate the growth of more melanin pigment.

If you are at risk for melasma, proper sun protection is key, and it may be helpful to avoid anything that can cause fluctuations in hormone levels.


Vancouver patients who are seeking treatment for melasma will find that there are several effective options. Chief among these are cosmeceuticals and Sublative® rejuvenation and IPL.

Topical products that can aid in the health of the skin are known as cosmeceuticals (a combination of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals). Various skin-lightening cosmeceuticals are known to have a positive impact on melasma reduction.

IPL or Intense Pulsed Light uses focused light waves to target melanin in the skin. This results in disruption of the melanin which allows the body to get rid of the pigment by moving the debris to the surface of the skin. A gentle microdermabrasion a week later helps to further clear the skin.

Find out more about these treatments and your options for melasma. Contact the office of Dr. Perhez Jaffer in the Vancouver area for an informative consultation. Call (604) 298-4481.