My first dermatologist appointment for Melasma
So after many years of suffering with Melasma I finally decided to see a dermatologist. The reason I held out for so long is that I am a firm believer that melasma is a hormonal issue, NOT a dermal issue. I’ve heard horror stories of dermatologists recommending all sorts of expensive laser treatments and chemical peels that do not work. They don’t work because Melasma cannot be cured until the hormonal imbalance is fixed and no laser treatment is going to fix that.
The reason I chose now to go see a dermatologist is that I have already made steps to correct my hormones with my diet. Two months ago, I went gluten, dairy, sugar and alcohol free with my diet. I also take a handful of supplements to right the wrongs of my body. Because this is a long process, I thought the combination of dermal therapies mixed with my new diet might (praying, hoping, wishing) be the right combination to finally get rid of it once and for all.
Booking a Melasma Dermatology Appointment
I did some research online and decided to book two appointments with two different dermatologists to see what they recommended. This blog post will detail what the first derm told me along with the treatment plan recommended.
I was waiting patiently in the doctor’s room, prepared with a lot of informed questions. I’ve done a LOT of research over the years and knew which questions to ask to figure out if this dermatologist was going to try to take advantage of me. The doctor walked in and she was very friendly (and had great skin!). I explained to her my situation, and she began spouting off all of the different treatments that were available.
To be totally honest, I was a little bit disappointed because she hadn’t even looked at my melasma yet (it was mostly covered by my bangs) and she told me about bleaching creams, laser therapies and chemical peels.
My first question to her was about bleaching creams, I told her that I had heard that hydroquinone could actually make your skin more sensitive to sunlight causing the pigment to darken and she did agree that that is a possibility however, assured me that it was very important to get the right percentage of bleaching cream and to no overdo it in order to get the best results.
I then asked her for some before and after photos. I explained to her that I was very nervous about doing anything to my melasma because of the fear of making it worse. She looked at me sympathetically and said that she did not think the office had any before and after pictures of melasma treatment…which made me very sad 🙁
After a few more minutes of discussing the options she asked me if I wanted a prescription for hydroquinone and I told her in full disclosure that I had another appt with another dermatologist and wanted to get a second opinion before I made any decision. She completely understood and then left the room to get one of the aestheticians who was the most familiar with melasma.
I am SO THANKFUL that she brought this woman in! She was very knowledgeable (more knowledgable) than the doctor.
The aesthetician fully admitted that melasma was the hardest thing to get rid of. She asked to see my melasma and I showed her..and her response was, “You’ve had that for a while, right” and I said “yes, 8 years”. She bluntly said no chemical peel or laser is going to help that. She said she has tried everything over the years with patients and when the melasma is that deep none of those treatments will help. I was pretty disappointed to hear this, but felt very confident in her and appreciated that she gave me the honest truth.
Hydroquinone for Melasma: Should I use it?
Her only suggestion was to use a bleaching cream to maintain the melasma and prevent it from getting worse. She even pointed out some new spots that were developing on my face (which I had just noticed in the last week or two) and told me that the bleaching cream would get me through the summer months and hopefully prevent it from spreading. At this point I became a little more open to using hydroquinone.
I explained to her that I was afraid to use the bleaching creams because my skin was sensitive and I didn’t want to make it worse. Her advice to me was to use the Kligman’s Formula (which is a combination of Hydroquinone & Tretinol and a topical steroid) every 3rd day and to use a Vitamin C serum on the off days. She explained that this way the skin doesn’t get used to one treatment. She recommended that I do this for 6 weeks (through the summer) and if it didn’t improve to consider a Cosmelan peel which is something that her office had just started using.
What I’ve decided to do
After talking to both the doctor and the aesthetician I decided to go ahead and try the cream. I picked up the Kligman’s Formula this morning and am going to do exactly as she suggested and only use it every 3rd day. I fully intend to keep you updated.
The biggest takeaway from the appointment
Did you know that not only sunlight makes melasma worse..but HEAT does too! Hot showers, saunas, the heat from your baking oven, the heat in your car on a sunny day can make Melasma that much worse. I had heard this before, but didn’t know if was fact…and it is! She suggested that I use Obagi Infrared Sunscreen which not only blocks the UV rays but also protects the skin from heat. It’s slightly tinted, which makes it easy to put on with makeup.
I’m happy to share with you my journey and appreciate you reading in and hopefully all of us find a cure to this darn skin disorder!