What are these dark discolored spots on my face and what can I do about them?

Dark discoloration on the skin is caused by the sun, hormones, and inflammation, all of which play a role in increasing your skin’s melanin production. This results in darkly pigmented skin conditions like freckles, sun spots, post-inflammatory pigmentation, and melasma.

What causes skin discoloration?

We all have varying amounts of melanin pigment, which contributes to the color of our skin.  Melanin is produced by melanocytes, which are pigment containing cells that are dispersed in the skin.  When exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, our skin darkens as melanin is produced in higher amounts to shield our skin cells.  Regardless of skin color, the cause of discoloration is the same: sun or inflammation leads to production of melanocyte stimulating hormone, which activates an enzyme inside melanocytes called tyrosinase that initiates a chemical reaction to produce melanin.   The end result is brown or even black skin discoloration.

Will it naturally fade away?

According to Dr. Joe, discoloration caused by inflammation from acne or rashes can lighten over time, but sun-induced discoloration like melasma and sun spots requires intervention from skin-lightening products and procedures.

What are the different types of discoloration?

FRECKLES: small in size and fairly light in color, freckles are an early sign of excess pigment that begins in childhood, and are brought out and made darker by sun exposure.  There is also a genetic tendency for freckling.

MELASMA: This common, brown-to-black patchy discoloration can affect the forehead, cheeks, and upper lip, and often occurs with pregnancy or birth control use.  The hormonal fluctuations in these conditions are thought to make melanocytes more sensitive to sunlight and sometimes even regular indoor lights.  It is one of the most troublesome skin conditions that affect women.

POST-INFLAMMATORY HYPERPIGMENTATION: following a strong amount of skin inflammation caused by acne, rashes, or skin injury, dark spots can be left behind at the affected site.  If you have a darker type, you will be more prone to this type of discoloration.

SOLAR LENTIGO (SUN SPOTS): usually larger and darker than freckles, sun spots are mutated DNA that occur after repeated sun exposure. The lighter your skin is naturally, the more likely you are to have sun spots.

Treat discoloration at your dermatologist’s office

Treating discoloration effectively requires a good skin care regimen to reduce the sun’s effect on your skin on a daily basis.  This is especially important in Houston where it is difficult to truly escape the sun.  Dr. Joe recommends sunscreen as a foundation for the discoloration skin care regimen, especially the EltaMD sunscreen line, which utilizes mineral-based sunscreen over chemical ones and is not oily or tacky on the skin.

Dr Joe and the providers at Clear Lake Dermatology also utilize a combination skin-lightening regimen that includes prescription hydroquinone as well as the new SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense Corrector, which is a next generation blend of powerful skin-lightening agents including transexamic acid, a potent blocker of melanin production in the skin.  This unique product has been shown to decrease stubborn hyperpigmented patches by 60%.  Dr Joe also recommends taking the oral supplement Heliocare Ultra, to boost your skin’s UV protection and DNA repair capacity with a powerful anti-oxidant from the medicinal fern polypodium leucotomas.  Heliocare has been proven to enhance the effectiveness of skin-lightening products.

In addition to an at-home skin-lightening regimen, you will want to consider in-office professional treatments to gain the most immediate and significant reduction in your skin discoloration.  The SkinCeuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector and Micropeel chemical peels are safe and effective professional peels that are performed in a series to slough off excess melanin that has accumulated in your skin cells.  Peels also give the added benefit of luminous, smooth, glowing skin.

Lasers are the quickest and most effective way to reverse discoloration. The Clear + Brilliant treatment is a fractional laser designed to reduce pigmentation and is especially beneficial if you have melasma or a darker skin type and are wishing for more even skin tone.  While not a laser, IPL (intense pulsed light) harnesses the power of focused light waves to remove sun induced freckles and sun spots. What makes IPL unique is it creates a uniformity of tone and texture, producing youthful radiance.

Just like facial skincare, treating the pigmentation on your skin requires an individualized approach.  Meet with our aestheticians so they can help you prepare for the upcoming spring and summer sunshine and develop a corrective plan.


Physician, Skin expert Dr. Joe and his Aestheticians will evaluate each prospective patient and recommend a customized treatment plan. Dr. Joe supervises, instructs and certifies appropriate ancillary staff utilizing the most advanced ultrasound energy-based tools and training in the latest techniques- all for your maximum results. 

For Your Complimentary Consultation call our office at 281-332-9682

Part Two: Check Out Michelle’s CoolSculpting Results

Look at Michelle’s before and after photographs. Please note, the information mentioned below is a week by week account of Michelle’s four week journey into CoolSculpting success!

On my quest to become a stronger and healthier mama, and rock my two piece in time for the upcoming summer months, I recently had my first CoolSculpting treatment with Clear Lake Dermatology’s CoolSculpting expert, Rachel Bright.  I’m loving the journey.

If you happened to miss the first part of my CoolSculpting journey, including photos of the treatment being performed itself, you can begin reading Part 1 by clicking here.
Here’s my progress report in the weeks following my treatment:

Week 1 After My CoolSculpting Treatment:

The initial discomfort (due to inflammation of the tissue) is gone. The treated area is still feeling quite tingly and numb but I’ve been assured by Dr. Joe this is totally normal. It generally takes about 1 to 2 weeks for the swelling to subside. The numbness can take longer to resolve, especially with the larger abdominal applicator, which Rachel used on me.

Overall I am feeling really good and can’t wait to see results!

Week 2 After My CoolSculpting Treatment:

I’m feeling fantastic! No tenderness at all. While the treated area still feels quite numb, this is totally normal and not bothering me. I’m not seeing physical change yet, but know that this can take up to 8 weeks. Patience is a virtue, right?I’ve really been enjoying the connection and interacting with patients throughout this experience. A lot of patients have mentioned they’ve read and are following along with me on my journey.

Week 4 After My CoolSculpting Treatment:

I am starting to notice a change in my abdomen! I thought it was all in my head, since it’s only been 4 weeks since my CoolSculpting treatment, but my sister commented on how much slimmer I’m looking. My co-workers have also mentioned they’re noticing some change. It must be working. Since this was my last ditch effort, I couldn’t be happier. I took 4-week progress photos with Rachel and was pleased to see that it’s not just me being optimistic. The changes are real!  Rachel, Brittnee and Natalie are all very happy with my results so far. I can’t wait for my 8 week photos!

It’s time to start on my second CoolSculpting session with Rachel. Since CoolSculpting eliminates 20-25% of fat cells in the treated area a second session may be needed.
Stay tuned for part 3 of my journey coming in a month …

Book your complimentary consultation with Clear Lake Dermatology’s CoolSculpting specialists today! For more information on our current CoolSculpting specials, click here.

Follow Me on My Coolsculpting® Journey

After having 2 children, my body has gone through a lot of changes. The way I felt in my body became very uncomfortable for me. I wanted to do something and with summer approaching, it has to be FAST.

I have done what I know to do. I watch my food intake. I exercise. I am beginning to feel better. My confidence is improving. I am reaching a point however where I feel I am accomplishing as much as I can through diet and exercise. Fortunately, my position as a Medical Assistant at Clear Lake Dermatology requires me to learn about the various technologies in our office. Through clinical education I have learned about the benefits of Clear Lake Dermatology’s CoolSculpting® device. I believe that CoolSculpting® is the next path for me to take to further my goal of becoming stronger and healthier.

At Clear Lake Dermatology, it’s important for us to understand what our patients are going through. I believe my pregnancy experience with Melasma, weight gain, acne and all of the other physiological changes I went through, allow me to understand and connect with the women I have the privilege of caring care for better. I thought I would share my experience with those of you who can relate or for those of you who may be interested in learning more about the CoolSculpting process.

The Consultation:

I met with Clear Lake Dermatology’s Clinical Aesthetician and CoolSculpting treatment provider, Rachel Bright. Rachel explained to me that the aesthetic examination that takes place prior to your treatment serves two purposes. First, determining candidacy, which is essential. Secondly, due to the medical nature of this procedure, she must gather information regarding your current health and health history.

Because this is a procedure that involves cryolypolisis, your medical history is key. Rachel will work closely with Dr. Joe to rule out any contraindication that would preclude me from having the procedure, and to confirm that I am a good candidate that I would ultimately get a desirable result.

Rachel used specific templates that coincide with the actual applicators, to measure the areas of my body that had the most concern. This will  determine how many cycles it will require to get the results I am looking for.

Even though I have a strong working relationship with Rachel, it was a wonderful opportunity for me to learn more about her approach with patients. She is incredibly skilled and also has a way of making a woman feel comfortable even in the most delicate of situations. I had a lot of questions and she had a thoughtful answer for each. Above all, Rachel wanted to ensure I was happy with my decision to proceed with the treatment and that we were in full agreement when it came to what could be expected at the conclusion of my treatment plan.

Photographic Standards:

The “before” pictures are key to assessing your outcome. Clear Lake Dermatology takes accurate before and after pictures. Rachel will meet with and take my post procedure photographs at approximately at 10 from my final treatment date. This post CoolSculpting visit is the surest way to track progress and compare your “before” pictures with your sequential “after” shots.

As I was having my baseline pictures taken I was thinking “Yikes! You want me to take my shirt off? Do I really have to weigh myself in front of you?”. I took a deep breath and after taking my blouse off, stepped on the scale. They say, change can feel uncomfortable. I must say, I agree but, no pain no gain, right?


The Beginning:

Now for the procedural preparation. I could feel my heart beating faster. I was beginning to get nervous. Rachel carefully marked the areas to be treated, which I had a chance to view myself before getting situated onto the treatment bed. A gel pad was placed over the first treatment area to protect my skin from the cooling device. The cooling applicator was then placed on the area, and I knew from what she had said, a strong suction was about to begin drawing my tissue into the applicator. Rachel also informed me that this would begin only after she felt the applicator was accurately placed and the placement looked precise. Once the applicator was evenly applied, the cooling would begin.

As we progressed in the treatment there was definitely a strong feeling of suction that I felt. I also felt as if I had an ice pack placed on my stomach. I am so glad she suggested I bring warm, fuzzy socks! After a couple of minutes I didn’t feel anything but the cooling at all. As I was sitting there with Rachel, I felt completely at peace. Now I have some “me time” to catch up on my favorite TV show of all time, “Friends” on Netflix.  I even thought, I could take a nap right now. Surprisingly, yes. CoolScuplting is that comfortable!

Once the hour was over, Rachel massaged the crystallized tissue for a few minutes. She also incorporated a device that is said to enhance the outcome of cryo-lypolysis. This results enhancing device is only available at Clear Lake Dermatology. Dr. Joe is currently the only physician who offers this devise in our area of Texas. Will that guy stop at any limits to serve his patients?


After a 35 minute session, I was free to return to my normal activity. Which is one of the reasons I was so interested in receiving the procedure. Unlike other devices on the market, there are no restrictions and virtually no down time after a CoolSculpting treatment.

After the treatment, I felt pretty good. I felt like I could sit down, rest and warm up a bit. I don’t love being cold. One of the things I love most about Texas! A few hours later I started to feel a little tender in the treated area. But nothing that required any pain medication.

Day 1, Post-Treatment:

I definitely felt sore this morning. My abdomen reminded me of what I looked like after having my children. I was a little swollen and the skin was (for lack of a better term) loose. It was suggested to me to wear a body shaper to kind of “hold in” my stomach. I have to say, that made a huge difference in my comfort level.

I’m feeling very excited to see how my body changes in the coming weeks. If you have any questions, e-mail me at clearlakederm@gmail.com attention: Michelle.

Mention Michelle’s Journey and Receive $150 Off Your Coolsculpting® Treatment


Stay tuned for Part 2 and 3 while we follow Michelle’s progress…