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Understanding hyperpigmentation and the treatment options

Pigmentation is the natural colouration of the skin, produced by the pigment melanin.

Hyperpigmentation is a term that describes skin that appears darker. It can manifest in several ways – in small patches, or covering larger areas; affecting only certain areas of the body such as the face and hands, or it can be more widespread.

Increased pigmentation isn’t harmful, although in some cases it can be symptomatic of another medical condition. For some people, hyperpigmentation can cause distress or a lack of confidence. The good news is that there are a number of targeted and tailored approaches to treating it.

What causes hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is often caused by an excess of melanin, which is produced by skin cells called melanocytes. Several different conditions or factors can affect the production of melanin in the body.

Excessive sun exposure can cause an increase in melanin that results in hyperpigmentation.

Particular medications can cause hyperpigmentation. Also, it can be a side-effect of certain chemotherapy drugs.

Hormone level changes in pregnancy can affect melanin production in some women.

A rare endocrine condition called Addison’s disease can cause hyperpigmentation that is most obvious in areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun, such as the face, neck, and hands, as well as areas susceptible to friction such as the elbows and knees.

What are the types of hyperpigmentation?

The most common types of hyperpigmentation are:


Melasma is believed to be caused by hormonal changes and can develop during pregnancy.

Hyperpigmentation may appear on any part of the body, but generally on the face and stomach.

Sun spots

Sun spots are very common. They are also known as liver spots or solar lentigines. They are caused by exposure to the sun over time and therefore appear most commonly on the hands and face.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation

This type of hyperpigmentation occurs as a result of injury or inflammation to the skin. A common cause is acne.

The importance of sunscreen

Sunscreen is a very important factor in managing hyperpigmentation.

Choosing a good quality sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30-50 and using it daily will help to reduce the risk of hyperpigmentation worsening.

Sunscreen should be reapplied frequently if you are out in the sun, and especially if you are swimming or sweating, to ensure effective protection.

Treatments for hyperpigmentation

There are a number of ways to approach the treatment of hyperpigmentation, depending on its severity and the affected area of the body.  

Skincare consultation

Your consultation will focus on the results you want to achieve in the short and long term.

Our dermatologist will analyse and assess your skin.

Based upon this analysis, and your desired outcomes, you will receive a bespoke skincare recommendation. This may include prescription skincare products, homecare regimes or tailored treatments such as facials or peels.

Skincare products

We are proud to be official distributors of some of the world’s leading cosmeceutical products.

Cosmeceutical products offer pharmaceutical-grade benefits for the skin. As a result, they are more effective at treating specific issues such as hyperpigmentation.

Our dermatologist will recommend the most appropriate products and regime for your particular skin and will be able to prescribe where required.

Your results are carefully monitored and we’ll continue to support you via our post-therapy care service.

Bespoke facials

Our bespoke facials are tailored to the specific needs of your skin.

A combination of skincare technologies and products will be selected to achieve your desired results.


Peels work through the application of specially formulated natural acids to the skin – these have the effect of deep exfoliation to improve the quality of the skin.

Certain deeper peels reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation by removing the top layer of the skin, or epidermis, to encourage skin renewal.

Laser treatment

Laser treatment works by safely reducing the level of melanin in the skin, the areas of hyperpigmentation are reduced and eventually eliminated.  

It is commonly used to treat age spots and sun spots, and for addressing pigmentation issues affecting the hands and wider areas on the chest and decolletage, rather than a single isolated area.

Venus Viva

Venus Viva skin resurfacing is achieved by using NanoFractional radio frequency to deliver heat to the skin.

The treatment uses tiny pins that create micro-dermal wounds, which the body naturally heals.

This process repairs signs of skin damage visible on the surface of the skin, such as hyperpigmentation. Since the wounds are so small, the treatment is much more comfortable than traditional laser treatment.

Talk to us about treatment for hyperpigmentation

Depending on the recommended approach, you can have your treatment at one of our Save Face accredited clinics at Huntingdon, Harley Street, Peterborough or Sevenoaks.

We offer a free initial consultation where we’ll discuss the most appropriate treatment for your specific needs.

You can book online or, if you prefer, call us on 0330 024 1300.