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A Treatment for Melasma That Worked!

We love to hear from our patients! The following is a testimonial submitted by one of our melasma patients who saw a dramatic improvement in just a few months time.

The 2014 Lavaman Waikoloa Olympic Distance Triathlon marked the beginning of my return to the triathlon scene and the day we celebrated my son’s one-year birthday. It was also the day someone innocently commented: “Gosh, that must’ve been a tough 10K course. Look at her, she’s got dirt on her face.”

From that moment, I realized that the darkened skin around my cheeks, nose, and upper lip wasn’t only from sun exposure while getting back into the training groove. It was a culmination of two years of hormonal changes from my pregnancy followed by breastfeeding, along with not being diligent of protecting my skin with the right kind of sunscreen while swimming, cycling and running under the sun.

I thought it would go away, but after two years, I realized that it wasn’t going anywhere. My own research and talking with a friend, Dr. Michael Traub, informed me that what I had was called Melasma – a hyperpigmentation of the skin due to hormonal changes and sun exposure.

For the first time in my life, I felt self conscious of my skin. People noticed and began asking questions. Though I wasn’t shy to talk about my Melasma, I knew that my skin wasn’t what it was a few years ago and I felt extremely helpless.

Typically, those who have darker skin to begin with and of Asian ancestry are more prone to having Melasma. Being Japanese, born and raised in Hawaii, an active runner and triathlete exposed to the sun for hours at a time, and going through all of the hormonal changes that come with pregnancy and breastfeeding, I had all of the right ingredients for Melasma.

Crème foundations, liquid foundations, concealers, pressed and loose powder, and everything else you can think of only made my Melasma look worse. Trying to cover it up turned the darken patches on my cheeks grey and more obvious. And while I was now using protective sunscreen, I found out that I was pregnant with my second child.

Then, over the summer I met with Dr. Monica Scheel at the pool parking lot for an interview regarding an upcoming column about Sun Management for Hawaii Athletes. Hawaii was having one of the hottest summers in 30 years and many athletes were engaged in long training hours for the upcoming IRONMAN in October.

Ironically, while I gathered important information for my column on what athletes needed to do to protect their skin from the sun, I was among those who needed help the most.

After the interview, I told Dr. Scheel of my intention to seek skin treatment at her office once I had my baby. I didn’t want to begin any new treatments or products that might be harmful to my growing baby. She immediately offered her help and told me there were several skin treatments that could be done safely for my baby and me. I couldn’t wait to begin!

While sitting in her cozy office, Dr. Scheel educated me on Melasma – the causes, effects, and safe treatments that could be done right away. She also took a closer look at my diet and encouraged me to seek foods that were from organic sources and to drink filtered water out of BPA-free containers such as a Hydro Flask, not from plastic water bottles that I had become accustomed to. By ingesting additional hormones and bad toxins from food sources only added to my Melasma dilemma.

Most importantly, she made me believe that I would return to my old self again and how simple changes to my lifestyle and eating habits would benefit both my skin and health for the long term. That day changed my life.

I then began my first HydraFacial MD treatment. In my opinion, it was the most effective and safe skin treatment during my pregnancy. My skin immediately felt smoother and looked healthier. Getting a HydraFacial not only gently removed surface damage such as dead skin cells and impurities, but also replenished my skin with antioxidants that helped to improve the quality of my skin’s health.

After two months into Melasma treatments, my skin began to look so much better. I actually had my fifth HydraFacial session a few hours before going into labor and giving birth to my second son.

Now, ten HydraFacial MD treatment sessions later along with being diligent in following Dr. Scheel’s skin regimen of daily sunscreen use (with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide), cleansing, moisturizing and a clean diet plan – I feel like a newer me!

While Melasma can be an extremely difficult skin condition to treat and can reoccur at any time – one that I may have to battle with for the rest of my life – I now feel that I have learned enough from Dr. Scheel to not let it get out of control as I allowed it to before.

Thank you, Dr. Monica Scheel, for taking the time to care and making me feel beautiful again from the inside-out. And thank you for helping me to believe that there is hope for Melasma.