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Dr. Michele Green is an internationally renowned expert in skin lightening. With her complete line of skin lightening creams in her MGSkinLabs, Inc. line of products, chemical peels, cosmelan and laser treatments , she is able to treat all forms of hyperpigmentation on the face and body. Dr. Green is an expert in treating pigmentation, sun spots, melasma, and sun damage, in patients of both light and dark skin tones. She successfully treats discoloration and damage from the sun as well as hyperpigmentation as a side effect of poor laser treatment. By combining different treatment modalities and a powerful at home skin care regime, Dr. Green will help you  even out your skin tone and restore your glowing complexion.

Many people work hard to achieve fair and flawless skin. The market is flooded with skin lightening creams and a myriad of treatments ranging from lasers to chemical peels to help people achieve these results. People want to lighten their skin for many reasons. Many patients suffer from melasma or other sun related pigmentation, leaving them with sun spots and discoloration. Other patients suffer from scars, dark marks, and hyperpigmentation from long-standing acne which was poorly treated over the years. There are many different bleaching creams which are available over the counter to treat these dark spots and lighten the skin. These creams work by reducing a pigment called melanin in the skin. When the skin is exposed to UV or sun light more melanin is produced which tends to discolor the skin and produce these sun spots. Patients with darker skin tone are more susceptible to increased melanin production.  Skin lightening products may combine hydroquinones, licorice, Vitamin K, Kojic Acid, Vitamin C, and other skin bleaching ingredients. These over the counter products are a good place to start for patients who have mild pigmentation or skin discoloration.

Acne scar and hyperpigmentation treatment – before and after photo

What causes dark patches on the skin?

Dark patches are caused by several reasons:

  • Sun exposure – increased UV light causes an increase in melanin, and resulting hyperpigmentation
  • Hormonal influences – commonly causes melasma and skin hyperpigmentation in women
  • Chemicals – chemical irritants can cause pigmentation and discoloration on the kin
  • Acne breakouts – after an acne flare, the skin may become discolored, called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), which appears almost as acne scars. The inflammation of the acne breakout causes an overproduction of melanin and these consequent dark spots.
  • Age – with increasing age, there is an increase in the number of melanocytes with increasing hyperpigmentation
  • Laser damage – many lasers such as IPL, Picosure, or Fraxel, can cause discoloration when treated on the wrong skin tone or the wrong individual settings.
  • Environmental pollution – can cause oxidative stress on the skin and cause dark spots and wrinkles.
  • Genetics – some patients are more predisposed genetically to hyperpigmentation.
  • Medications – oral contraceptives, oral antibiotics such as Doyxcycline, antimalarial drugs such as Chloroquine, chemotherapy drugs, and other medications.
  • Metabolic diseases

What determines skin color?

A persons’ skin color is determined by the amount of melanin in their skin. Melanin is produced by melanocytes, which are specialized cells that are located in the epidermis of the skin. The amount of melanin in your skin is directly proportional to your skin color. Lighter skin patients have less melanin than darker skin. The greater the melanin production, the darker your skin.

The effect of melanin in the skin is to protect your body from UV rays; protecting us against the damaging rays of the sun. Since melanin is a protective pigment in skin, it blocks UV rays from damaging DNA, and protects against skin cancer. There are two types of melanin in the skin, pheomelanin and eumelanin. Pheomelanin is primarily found in persons whit lighter skin tone and eumlanin in those with darker skin. Darker skin tones, since they contain more melanin, have a better natural barrier against UV rays.

Therefore, to prevent damage from UV rays, the skin produces more melanin. As this new melanin increases to protect our skin, there is an increase in hyperpigmentation, which represents damage to the skin from the sun. An increase in melanin in the skin can cause age spots, melasma, and sun spots on the face, hand, and body.

Cosmelan before and after photo

Skin Lightening creams

There are many skin whitening creams currently on the market. Hydroquinone is the gold standard ingredient in many skin lightening creams. Currently, only two percent hydroquinone is available without a prescription. This over the counter strength bleaching cream, may not be as effective as the higher strength lightening creams which the best dermatologists, like Dr. Michele Green, can prescribe. Dr. Green specially formulated bleaching creams with five to ten percent hydroquinones, infused with Retin-A and other active ingredients, to enhance the effectiveness of the formula of her skin lightening creams.  Dr. Green has created a special pigment protocol for her patients, to use at home, to lighten dark spots and even out the skin. Most patients use this pigment protocol to treat skin problems such as freckles, melasma, age spots, sun damage, and discoloration and hyperpigmentation from acne scars. Skin lightening creams can also naturally lighten dark skin. Skin bleaching is a cosmetic treatment to reduce the prominence of skin discolorations and even out the overall skin color to achieve skin brightening.

Best skin care products for skin lightening

There are a whole host of skin lightning products over the counter. Since a two percent hydroquinone skin lightener is all that is allowed over the counter, most patients need more powerful skin lighteners. Dr. Green recommends the following combination for skin lightening

  • Gentle cleanser – The use of a gentle skin wash is important when combatting pigmentation since you don’t want to further irritate the skin.
  • Retinol – Incorporating retinol or Retin-A to to your skin care regime increases collagen stimulation, skin turnover, and skin lightening.
  • Hydroquinone –  Using a 5 to 10% hydroquinone to treat dark spots, melasma, and sun damage, is an effective skin lightener
  • Vitamin C serum – Vitamin C is a powerful anti-oxidant and removes pigmentation without irritation. Vitamin C helps skin lightening, hyperpigmentation, redness, and rosacea. Vitamin C serum is the most popular product in Dr. Green’s office 
  • Lotions or moisturizers – The use of a rich moisturizer or lotion helps combat any exfoliation or dryness from using retinols and hydroquinones. View MGSkinLabs Absolute Recovery Anti-Wrinkle cream.
  • Sunscreen – SPF 50 sunscreen is recommended by Dr. Green, one that contains both UVA and UVB block. Dr. Green often recommends using two sunblocks in patients with melasma. She recommends combining two sunblocks a physical sunscreen, and the other with a chemical sunscreen, to maximize the protection against the sun’s UV rays.

Which ingredients are in skin lightening products?

There are many natural ingredients for skin lightening as well as pharmaceutical ingredients to help reduce the amount of melanin in your skin. Some bleaching agents to treat uneven skin tone have a combination of ingredients.

  • Arbutin
  • Vitamin C
  • Kojic acid
  • Niacinamide
  • Azelaic acid
  • Reinol
  • Tranexamic acid
  • Hydroquinones
  • Aleosin
  • Licorice extract
  • Soy proteins

What is the best skin lightening cream?

The most effective skin lightening creams are those containing hydroquinone.  While only  2 percent hydroquinone is currently available on the market, Dr. Green compounds up to 10 percent hydroquinone with the pharmacy for you to have the best skin lightening results.

What are the side effects of skin lightening products?

  • Redness
  • Irritation
  • Peeling
  • Burning
  • Increased sensitivity to the sun
  • Worsening or underlying pigmentation
  • Chemical burns
  • Mercury poisoning
  • Skin infections

Skin Bleaching

Skin lightening is popular in many countries.  From Nigeria, to the Philippines, lightening agents are in demand to treat skin pigmentation. One of the most important things to consider in using skin lightening products is the importance of strict sun avoidance during and after treatment. Proper sunscreen use is paramount for the success of skin lightning. If a patient returns to the sun after treatment, the discoloration and hyperpigmentation can easily recur. That is why it is essential to use the proper sun precautions after treating your skin for melasma, or sun damage.  The goal is to maintain clear skin and prevent recurrence of the pigmentation after completing your skin lightening treatment.

Skin Lightening for Intimate Areas

Many patients are bothered by skin darkening in intimate ares of the skin, such as the underarms, vaginal, groin,nipples and genital area. Many patients are bothered by hyperpigmentation on their hands, feet, and knees as well. Dr. Green is an expert in treating hyperpigmentation in all areas of the body.  There is no need to be embarrassed by this discoloration. Through skin bleaching treatments, Dr. Green is able to lighten these intimate areas and restore your natural skin tone without blemishes and hyperpigmentation.

Are Skin Lightening Creams Safe?

Skin lightening creams are safe as long as they are used appropriately and under the supervision of a qualified medical professional, like Dr. Michele Green. Skin bleaching creams must be used correctly with special care not to over bleach the skin. Using these skin lightening creams improperly can irritate the skin, leaving it hypo- pigmented, discolored, or inflamed.  It is always best to use these whitening creams under a dermatologist’s supervision.

Glutathione injections for skin lightening

Glutathione is an antioxidant naturally found in human cells which neutrals free radicals. Glutathione also helps lighten the skin by converting melanin to a lighter color and deactivating tyrosinase, which is the enzyme responsible for catalyzing the production of melanin. Intravenous glutathione treatments are mean to enhance these natural results and lighten the entire skin.

Glutathione injections are given intravenously and there is as yet no rigorous large-scale studies proving its effectiveness or safety. It is not FDA approved yet in the United States for skin lightening. However, glutathione treatments are increasing n popularity in Asia, especially the Philippines, Europe, and in the United States. Despite it being an extremely popular treatment in the Philippines, the government has condemned its use due to safety concerns. There have been reports in the Philippines of skin disorders, thyroid function problems, and kidney malfunctions, and possible cancer from glutathione treatments.

The Food and Drug Administration has not approved any injectable medications for skin lightening, and its long term safety and effects have not been documented. There is a precedent for using medications in an off label fashion in dermatology.  Glutathione for skin lightening continues to increase in popularity both in the United States and abroad. Dr. Green currently does not offer glutathione injections for skin lightening since it has not been clinically proven to be effective or safe.

Lasers for skin lightening  

Dr. Michele Green utilizes cutting edge lasers to lighten the skin as well. Patients whose main problems are sun spots and overall sun damage may benefit from the Fraxel laser which Dr. Green refers to as a “magic eraser”. The Fraxel laser utilizes fractionated technology to treat pigmentation, increase collagen production, and little recovery time. Three treatments, spaced one month apart, with this laser will treat sun damage and diffuse pigmentation and leave the skin beautiful and even. The Fraxel laser is best for patients with light skin tone and to be avoided in patients with dark skin tones. Fraxel laser is also not meant to be used for the treatment of melasma, as it can worsen hyperpigmentation.

Individual sun spots, blemishes, freckles, and age spots, on the face and body, can be treated with the Candela® Alex-Trivantage Laser. The Alex-Trivantage utilizes a special wavelength for patients with Asian skin and can treat pigmentation or sun spots even in darker skin patients.

Dr. Green also utilizes the Clear & Brilliant laser to treat sun damage since this “mini-Fraxel” is safe and effective to treat hyperpigmentation on most skin types and has no “down time” at all.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treats both hyperpigmentation, sun spots, and rosacea. The pulsed light penetrates the dermis and destroys the pigmentation.  Again, IPL should not be used as a laser treatment for melasma.

Chemical Peels for Melasma and skin lightening 

For patients with darker skin types Dr. Green has developed special chemical peels to safely and effectively reduce pigmentation, blemishes, and lighten skin even in those with the darkest pigmentation. She utilizes different strengths of Trichloroacetic Acid peels to rejuvenate and lighten the skin with minimal “down time”. For patients suffering from melasma, Dr. Michele Green is one of the very few doctors in NYC who provides Cosmelan treatments.

Cosmelan is a skin bleaching peel which removes even the most stubborn melasma and is safe to use on all skin types. For those patients suffering from very uneven skin and pigmentation she often combines both Cosmelan and chemical peels to return your skin to its natural beauty.

Dr. Green treats many HispanicAsian, and African American patients who suffer from skin discoloration, melasma, hyperipigmentation from acne scars, and dark spots in general on the face and the body. Both male and female patients who suffer from hyperpigmentation have been effectively treated by these protocols. In addition to these skin lightening protocols, Dr. Green utilizes chemical peels and Cosmelan to treat these patients effectively with beautiful lasting results. Only special lasers can be used on patients with darker skin types to avoid additional hyperpigmentation.


One specially formulated type of chemical peel that aids with skin rejuvenation is known as a Mesopeel. There are various types of Mesopeels available and this peel is often used to treat skin discoloration, dark spots or photo aging in various areas of the body including face, arms, chest, buttocks, back, thighs and thanks to the recently released Mesopeel periocular peel, even delicate areas such as dark circles and wrinkles under eye areas. The Mesopeel treatment can be combined with other anti-aging treatments such as Mesotherapy, Botox, Vbeam and various Skin tightening lasers.

Prevention of hyperpigmentation

  • Use sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher daily and re-apply every few hours or after swimming or exercising when outside
  • Use a broad brimmed hat
  • Wear sun protective clothing including large sunglasses
  • Avoid the sun during peak hours from 11 am to 2 pm daily
  • Avoid cigarette smoking
  • Avoid excessive alcohol intake
  • Wear a BB cream for coverup which has SPF in its based

DIY Skin Lightening

Many people try some at home skin lightening treatments.  Lemon juice has been used for years to try to lighten both skin and hair. However, special care must be used when using lemon juice in the sun as it can cause a reaction on the skin and actually cause hyperpigmentation. Aloe Vera gel, yogurt honey masks, and papaya, have all been used to soothe or exfoliate the skin, for skin lightening. While these at home treatments do not replace medical treatments at a dermatologist, dome patients find some skin lightening benefit.

If you are frustrated with discoloration or hyperpigmentation and you are interested in skin lightening, find out how Dr. Green can effectively help you and book an appointment online or by calling 212 535 3088

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