Melasma Treatment Seattle & Tacoma

Melasma is a skin condition that is notoriously hard to treat. It does often respond to treatment used for hyperpigmentation. However, since it is caused by hormones, it is likely to come back. Adequate melasma treatment requires background and knowledge in both aesthetics and medicine. The master estheticians at Seattle Plastic Surgery bring both aesthetic and basic medical expertise, while also working with top plastic surgeons. Seattle Plastic Surgery provides the best melasma treatment Seattle and Tacoma offer.

What Is Melasma?

Melasma is a condition that causes dark spots and patches on the skin. It most commonly affects the face and occurs bilaterally. What makes melasma different from other forms of hyperpigmentation is the cause, hormones. Melasma most commonly affects women during pregnancy or when starting or stopping oral contraceptives. It can also occur due to hormonal disorders such as thyroid disease.

With that said, melasma is worsened by sun exposure. Frequent sun exposure, particularly without wearing SPF, can put you at a much higher risk of developing melasma. Genetics also plays a role because melasma does appear to run in families.


Melasma is frequently mistaken for several other skin conditions. The one telltale sign beyond an obvious cause, such as pregnancy, is that melasma should not be painful. Other symptoms include:

  • Brown patches or grayish spots that appear bilaterally on the face (less commonly on the neck and arms)
  • Flat
  • Patches and spots darker than your natural skin tone
  • Can cover large and small areas

Other than the characteristic hyperpigmentation, there are no major symptoms of melasma. It is harmless, non-cancerous, and not painful. However, it still can cause distress and worry among sufferers.

Risk Factors

Certain biological factors and lifestyles can make you more susceptible to developing melasma. A few of these factors include:

  • Frequent sun exposure
  • Medium to dark skin tone
  • Born female assigned at birth
  • Pregnancy
  • Take oral contraceptives or estrogen hormone supplements
  • Thyroid diseases
  • Family history of melasma
  • Certain medications that cause sun sensitivity

Melasma Treatment Options

Melasma treatment options have changed significantly, even within the past decade. Determining the right treatment for you will require a consultation to discuss your medical history and to examine your specific melasma. Seattle Plastic Surgery’s master estheticians offer free, no-obligation consultations. You may discuss these possible treatment options.

Brightening Cream

Brightening cream is often one of the first recommended treatments for melasma because it is non-invasive. Helping to reduce melanocytes on the skin, brightening cream can even out the skin tone. It is often helpful for women who have seen their melasma go away slowly after pregnancy, or for those with mild cases.

Tretinoin is another similar option. It is found in many skincare products and acts as a treatment for hyperpigmentation. You may even be prescribed both, a common treatment for melasma.

Intense Pulsed Light

A decade ago intense pulsed light treatment was the top professional melasma treatment. It is still considered the best procedure for treating hyperpigmentation, but does not tend to help melasma for a long period. In rare cases, it may even worsen the darkened patches. 

Some patients may still benefit from IPL treatment for melasma. However, this is on a case-by-case basis. You can discuss this possibility with your master esthetician.


Microneedling is one of the most versatile and effective skin treatments available. It creates controlled damage through tiny punctures in the skin. This removes damaged and dead skin cells and replaces them with new ones by increasing cell turnover This can work to clear the melanocytes that cause melasma. Microneedling is also one of the safest professional treatments for people with darker skin tones.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are also a Seattle melasma treatment option, especially when combined with microneedling. The right type of chemical peel treatment can help lessen unwanted pigmentation. Though, chemical peels are not right for every melasma patient. Upon consultation and physical examination, your master esthetician can help determine if chemicals may help your melasma.

A Graphic Explaining What Melasma Is

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Permanently Get Rid Of Melasma?

Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed way to get rid of melasma. In some cases, especially when caused by pregnancy, the melasma will go away on its own. However, melasma is known to flare up, so some people may experience melasma several years after it originally cleared up. Therefore, there is no known cure to both treat melasma and prevent it from ever coming back.

Can Laser Worsen Melasma?

Yes, if a laser procedure is performed on someone who is not a good candidate, this can cause melasma worse than before. In some patients, IPL has even been known to worsen melasma. Patients with melasma should avoid laser or light-based treatments, such as laser hair removal and laser tattoo removal.

What Are The Dos & Don’ts Of Melasma?

People with melasma may have several flares and lulls throughout their lifetime. To keep flares to a minimum and prevent melasma from worsening, here are a few things to do:

  • Always wear a high SPF and broadband sunscreen
  • Remember to reapply sunscreen throughout the day
  • Wear a hat and/or cover up
  • Use gentle skincare products without any fragrances
  • Keep skin moisturized
  • Seek treatment by a melasma professional

While melasma is caused by the sun, other situations can contribute to a melasma flare up. Beyond the known triggers like pregnancy and birth control pills, here are a few don’ts of melasma:

  • Use tanning beds or tan naturally
  • Exfoliate everyday
  • Wax or shave in afflicted areas
  • Seek out LED treatments
  • Go into the sun without protective clothing and/or sunscreen

Is Melasma Preventable?

Somewhat, yes. If you know you are at a higher risk of developing melasma, or have experienced it in the past, you may consider taking certain precautions such as:

  • Always wear broadband SPF
  • Protect your face from the sun when possible
  • Do not use tanning beds
  • Choose alternative birth control methods

Unfortunately, there is no cure or definitive way to prevent melasma. Limiting sun exposure and treating it early if it occurs are the best ways to help reduce the risk of developing melasma.

How Much Does Melasma Treatment In Seattle Cost?

The exact cost of Seattle melasma treatment depends on the exact procedures you undergo. It can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. At Seattle Plastic Surgery, our providers present all of your options so you can make the one that will work best for your budget.

Seattle Plastic Surgery does also work with outside financing companies including Care Credit to help you find affordable financing for melasma treatment.

The Top Melasma Treatment In Seattle

Seattle Plastic Surgery has been providing plastic surgery and medical spa services to Seattle for 20+ years. Providing surgical, injectable, and aesthetic services, our goal is to help patients look and feel their best. Seattle Plastic Surgery’s providers make recommendations that are best for the patient, even if it means sending them elsewhere. This is true with our melasma treatment protocols. Master estheticians at Seattle Plastic Surgery offer the best melasma treatment Seattle and Tacoma provide.

To learn more and schedule a consultation, call us at 206-324-1120. You can also reach out online via chat, contact form, or Price Simulator.