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Melasma failed treatment methods...Retin-A successes???

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Tue Apr 28, 2009 4:02 am      Reply with quote
I took birth control pills for about 4 months over 2 years ago until I started getting hyperpigmentation on my upper lip and forehead (later diagnosed as melasma). I can deal with the lingering patch on my forehead and can cover it up with side-swept bangs, but the patch on my left upper lip makes me feel like I have a mustache and is extremely embarrassing. I have invested hundreds of dollars on treatments...IPOL, Fraxel, HQ, tri-luma, kojic acid, chemical peels...have seen astheticians and a dermatologist...The smaller spots on my forehead went away, but the largest forehead patch and lip patch have not responded significantly. I use 85 SPF sunscreen on my face every day and avoid the sun. I have always enjoyed the outdoors and now pay for it every time I garden or swim, etc...I feel like a prisoner. I have bought mineral makeup and specialty concealers that help slightly, but not enough. I have read this is supposed to go away...I am no longer on hormones...yet it continues to stick around and depress me. Has anyone had success with Retin-A? My dentist actually recommended it (she is really up to date with cosmetic treatments and her practice is almost like going to a spa). Seems like everyone responds differently to treatment, but I have tried just about all of the recommended solutions to no real avail. Thanks in advance for your comments!
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Tue May 12, 2009 3:42 pm      Reply with quote

Not sure if you will check back but I thought I would share my experience with Retin-A and melasma with you. I feel your pain and frustration and hope I can provide a bit of info.

Quick rundown - I'm a 33 year old woman and have been dealing with melasma for two years now. My melasma stems from my ignorance regarding sun damage (tanning, using no sun screen for years) and moving to a state where the UV index is usually 10 - Texas.

I too discontinued birth control a year ago because I read that estrogen imbalance may be a cause. However I am not sure if my stopping birth control helped fade my melasma but I won't rule it out.

As for my melasma, it started with two tiny spots on either side of my temples, moved down my cheeks, over my lip and the grand finale it covered my entire forehead. This entire progression from tiny spots to a face full took less than 5 months.

My dermatologist gave me two choices, retin-a or tri luma. I went with Retin-a because I am concerned about an ingredient in Tri Luma, hydroquinone to be exact.

It is now 10 months after I began using Retin-a and I am pleased with the results so far. It has successfully faded the spots on my temples and cheeks and is making a good size dent on the forehead discoloration.

As for the lip area, it is stubborn but also fading slowly. I learned that the lip area discoloration is actually deeper than the other areas, and thus far more difficult to fade. Believe me, I am sick and tired of that "mustache" shadow it creates.

It took most of those 10 months before I began to see a difference.

That said, I am sick of melasma and I will not be happy until it is gone so I considered a chemical peel but instead my dermatologist suggested that I look into a new product on the market called Melanage.

Its a powerful version of Tri Luma but applied once (a mask that you were for 8 to 10 hours at home) by a dermatologist or esthetician.

A before and after picture of a woman with melasma really gave me hope, heck I think I nearly cried. The result is dramatic, like she never had melasma.

I was quoted $750 which from what I read is a bit pricey but frankly I do not care if it works.

I do have some reservations however, the main one being that the product is still very new and therefore no one knows how well or how long the results last. I have yet to find a person who underwent the treatment more than 9 months ago.

Also and most important a primary ingredient in Melanage is hydroquinone and as of my writing this the FDA is conducting a safety study to determine if hydroquinone is in fact safe. It was banned in Europe already.
The results should be in early next month (June) and my dermatologist feels very positive that it will not be banned.

I will likely give Melanage a try later this year and will make a point of posting results on this webpage.

Oh, and regarding sunscreen consider something with micronized zinc oxide. Yes, too much makes you look like a geisha girl (whitish tint to it) but it provides the most effective UVA/UVB protection. I add a floppy sunhat and huge sunglasses... I look absurd most of the time.

And a side note.. because we melasma suffers are so vigilant when it comes to sun avoidance and using products like Retin-a .. HONEY we will look much younger for far longer.. one good thing that comes out of all this.

So, to conclude Retin-a does work to fade melasma but takes nearly a year to see real results. Hence, it may take 2 - 3 years of use and vigilant sunscreen use to completely eliminate it.

Give retin-a another try, stick with it.. the least you have to lose is a few fine lines. And keep melanage in mind, but do wait until more results are out there. Like me you have probably spent a small fortune on this kind of stuff.. so better to wait a bit longer than end up wasting more money.

All in all.. I have hope for us.

Best wishes!
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Mon May 18, 2009 1:03 pm      Reply with quote
I had really great results with Amelan/Dermelan. I also used Retin A but didn't see much of difference in regards to Melasma. Now i'm at a standstill. I'm not sure what to do.

I blogged about my progress at: www dot xanga dot com/poulinsj
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Wed Sep 02, 2009 10:15 am      Reply with quote
Hi all,

I have had melasma on my temples, above my eyebrows, and on my upper cheeks for about 3 years (I just turned 30). It's odd, because I am not pregnant nor am I using birth control. I have worn sunscreen my whole life (my mother slathered it on liberally when we were kids) BUT I do love the sun, so it could be a combination of genetics and too much sun exposure. But honestly, my sun exposure really should not be bad enough to cause it--I grew up outside of Boston, for God's sake. Not sunny all year round by any means!

I have read a lot of these posts and hydroquinone seems to be a worrisome ingredient. I got a facial a while ago and the facialist gave me SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel--it contains natural ingredients that are alternatives to hydroquinone. I like the gel, but it is not for you if you are looking for dramatic effects--it is more gradual. It has not gotten rid of my spots but I do see an overall improvement.

Also, many people complain that sunscreens are too heavy, or feel greasy--I have had the same issue, and since I am stil relatively young I don't want anything that will make me break out. I LOVE Clarins's High Protection Day Screen--it's super light and absorbs right into your skin, but has SPF 40 so it will really protect you.

I am curious to try Tri-Luma, but am worried about possible side effects. Also, as far as I can tell (after reading all these posts), no matter what treatment you use, the melasma will return with sun exposure. Right now mine sort of just looks like freckles, so I will probably continue to go to the beach and just slather on the sunscreen. My boyfriend likes my spots, anyway. Smile

Oh also: I read in one of these forums that one woman applied lemon juice with a cotton swab every night before applying her moisturizer, and she said that works. Sounds like the cheapest thing I've heard of, so until I hear of something more definitive, I'm going to give that a try.

Keep me posted about the Melanage results!
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Sat Sep 12, 2009 10:55 pm      Reply with quote
Hi. I have tried many, many products/treatments for melasma with no results. I am a faithful user of sunscreen, a very long-term retin a user and a sun avoider. I dropped birth control pills about a year ago in hopes that would help. I have done Obagi, Triluma, Lustra, IPLs and Fraxel. None of this has been the least bit helpful. Sad

Would love to find something that works.
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Wed Sep 23, 2009 4:38 am      Reply with quote
When I first started using Retin A, (around age 35) I had a lot of patchy discoloration on my face from sun damage and birthcontrol pills. My upper lip area, and across my nose and cheeks were splotchy and darker than the rest of my face. I think it took a few years of using Retin A daily and straight up before it evened out, so there is hope. I don't know of any quick fix that will rid you of the discoloration, other than a serious peel. Unfortunately, newly peeled skin is ripe and ready for a fresh batch of melasma!

Vehicle is a 1952 scratch and dent model....olive-ish, dry skin, long curly gray hair. Staples: Tazorac, 2mm Dermaroller, Anti Aging Light Stim, Devita Sunscreens, homemade C serums, some positive affirmations and whatever else it takes! Kicking and screaming the whole way...
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