Skin whitening procedures, should you consider them? In the skin whitening market, invasive procedures have been more commonly used as a result of their higher and faster efficacy as well as their uprising safety as skin whitening products have slower and less permanent effects.
That’s why despite being expensive, skin whitening seekers nowadays tend to use more invasive procedures to achieve their desired, fast and permanent results.
Laser Skin Whitening Treatment
Laser therapy is the most common procedure used for skin whitening. It’s considered a non-surgical procedure, exposing the skin to laser rays which restructure collagen and destroy melanin-producing cells. Laser therapy is categorized into ablative and non-ablative laser treatments.
Ablative laser works via the vaporization of the top, damaged skin layer, allowing the skin to heal into a healthier, less pigmented form. However, in non-ablative laser treatments, laser beams penetrate the skin layers to focus on the tissues underneath, without causing any damage to the top skin layer.
Research studies stated that laser therapy is considered one of the most effective methods in skin whitening process. It may take only 30 minutes per session to achieve the desired skin tone as laser beams are absorbed easily and rapidly by the skin.
However, multiple sessions may be needed for some skin types, according to the problem treated, hyperpigmented areas or naturally dark skin. As a result of such high efficacy, the average cost of laser skin whitening treatment was estimated by 2,300$ in 2019, in addition to the expenses of medications, transportation, consultation, etc.
However, because of the heat produced by the laser beams, skin treated can be damaged causing burns and thermal damage, especially with dark skin as higher doses of a laser are used. Such damage, when healed, may cause hypopigmentation of this skin area.
Laser therapy can also cause hyperpigmentation, as one of its side effects, as it can stimulate the melanin-producing cells. Moreover, it can be a painful experience that needs sedatives or even general anesthesia in children.
Some cases reported pain and discomfort sensation during and after laser sessions, which may even last longer than expected. Also, some cases reported skin swelling and redness after laser treatment sessions but they only lasted for 1 to 2 weeks.
Skin Whitening Injections
For the sake of achieving an even skin tone for the whole body, systemic interventions were considered. They are becoming more popular over the years as research studies stated their high efficacy. However, their safety is still questionable.
Glutathione is stated to be a safe alternative to skin whitening harsh chemicals. However, more research is still needed on glutathione injections to determine their side effects, especially the long-term ones, in order to prove their safety.
Glutathione is a natural antioxidant element that’s found in our body cells. It helps to boost the immune system, protects the skin against harmful toxins as well as whitening the skin via melanin production reduction.
To get the best results, it’s recommended to have IV glutathione administration for 10 sessions, 1 to 2 sessions every 3 months, however, some skin types may require about 30 treatments, with 150 to 400$ for each session.
And even sometimes, maintenance treatment is required every few months as glutathione levels get lower by time and therefore, its effect. Whitening results start to appear after 4 to 6 weeks, however, about 20 to 25% of the population may resist such treatment, mostly because of their genetic structure.
It’s noticed that adding vitamin C to glutathione IV injections has increased the lightening efficacy of glutathione injections but it’s still of unknown action, assuming that vitamin C protects the glutathione molecules against destruction by the liver or the blood itself.
In the Philippines, it’s noted that glutathione injections caused thyroid dysfunction, kidney, and skin diseases while in the USA, glutathione IV administration by medical professionals showed no serious side effects till now but there’s still a lack of research on the long-term side effects of such procedure.
That’s why some dermatologists may not recommend such a procedure for skin whitening.
However, there’d be a possibility of having the side effects of IV injections, if you are dealing with non-trained personnel such as local infections, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and even air introduction into the blood which can be fatal.
Skin Whitening Surgery
This procedure is getting more and more popular. It is based on changing the skin’s structure, reducing the melanin amount, and therefore, further whitening of the skin. It includes different methods and peeling is the most common one.
Most of the chemicals used in such procedures are stated effective, however, some may be toxic with questionable safety.
Tretinoin is considered the most popular chemical substance used in skin whitening surgeries as it would mature the skin, making it easier for surgeons to peel such skin, exposing the new, less pigmented skin underneath.
Another method is cryosurgery. Using liquid nitrogen to destroy the melanin-producing cells would help the skin get 2 or 3 shades lighter.
However, the efficacy of such a method depends on the depth of the pigment cells so, it may not work for some individuals. Microdermabrasion also works by exfoliating the top, dead, hyperpigmented layer of the skin, leaving the healthy, bright skin below, which can be noticed after the first treatment session.
Concerning the costs, as skin whitening surgery is one of the permanent procedures of skin whitening, localized skin whitening surgery may cost at least 500$.
Redness, bruising and swelling can occur after the surgery, which may last for 7 to 21 days, especially redness that lasts for more than 3 weeks and completely fades in 2 to 3 months.
After having any of these procedures, instructions given by your dermatologist or surgeon should be followed. Topical lotions and gels can be prescribed to relieve the swelling or redness caused by such procedures.
Also, melanin-inhibiting sunscreens should be a part of daily skincare routine in order to avoid skin damage by the sun and avoid further skin pigmentation.
Overall, to achieve a lighter skin tone permanently is not an easy task. It’s a painful and expensive experience, in comparison to the temporary skin whitening products.