Age spots are flat dark spots that appear on the skin as a result of aging and/or over-exposure to the sun. These dark blotches are also sometimes referred to as liver spots or sun spots. These tan or brown spots occur most often in people who have a tendency to freckle or burn but as we age, most of us will develop at least a few. Since our hands and face are the areas of the body that are exposed to the sun most, these dark lesions are more likely to appear here. While a few spots here or there are not that noticeable, sometimes a larger spot or multiple smaller lesions appear on the face. The marks can also develop on the hands or chest as well
How to Prevent Age Spots
While they are called age spots, there is no question that increased sun exposure causes damage to our skin which eventually leads to the spots. If you have had enough sun to cause age spots, you should be aware that you might also be reaching a point of have an increased risk of developing skin cancer and therefore need to keep an eye on those spots for any signs of change. The more pigment and skin color you have serves a protective role in preventing skin cancers.
Ultra violet rays stimulate the over-production of melanin (skin pigments) which forms these small roundish shaped flat brown patches with slightly irregular edges. To prevent age spots, you need to decrease your skin’s long term exposure to the sun by using a sunscreen with a high SPF any time you are out in the sun and by protecting your skin by covering it up and wearing a wide brimmed hat. The sunscreens that block UVA light are particularly effective for this purpose. Also, using skin care products containing topical vitamin A, vitamin C, and biopeptides can reverse this tendency to form age spots.
Treatments for Age Spot Removal
Since many individuals already have skin damage from the sun going back to childhood, you may find that you wish to remove the age spots that are already present and then take action to prevent more from appearing. There are many treatment options available to you to remove age spots.
- Chemical peels. A chemical peel is a mixture of acidic chemicals that when applied to the skin will remove the upper layer of the skin where the age spot is present. This treatment is also used for removing wrinkles and scars and has been safely used for age spot removal for years. The recovery time will depend on the intensity of the treatment and may range from mild to moderate. You should discuss this with your dermatologist during your consultation as you may wish to decrease your recovery time by spreading your treatments over several sessions.
- Laser Treatment. Using lasers to remove age spots has shown to be a very effective treatment that often requires only one or two sessions to make the skin on your hands and face clearer. The laser light is absorbed by the pigment cells generating heat that causes the upper layer of the skin to crust and peel removing age spots and so that the treated area heals with healthy spot-free skin. The results may take a few weeks to a month to reach its peak but will generally last for years.
- IPL Therapy. Intense Pulsed Light therapy is an increasingly popular treatment for removing age spots and speckled brown spots due to sun effect. A broad spectrum light is sent into the deeper layers of the skin to encourage rapid cell regeneration and new skin growth to get the spotty areas to go away. This treatment will require several sessions spread over a few weeks apart to get the optimal results.
- Liquid Nitrogen Cryotherapy. When only one spot is present or just a few small ones then you might be offered treatment with liquid nitrogen (LN2). The LN2 is applied to or sprayed on the spot of concern for a few seconds. After treatment the area becomes a little raised and puffy with redness. On occasion a blister can form at the site of treatment. You will then notice that the treated lesions will peel off over a week or two with normal skin left in place.
- Topical Creams and Compounds. Prescription medications including topical vitamin A in the form of Retin-A or Tazorac can help with treating age spots. Cosmeceutical products that do not require prescription including Vitamin C, A, E, kojic acid, biopeptides and other ingredients are also available to help remove age spots. The biggest issue with using the topical creams is that you have to be patient to see the desired results. The spots don’t go away immediately so it can take weeks or months for the spots to fade.
If you have concerns about age spots or other concerns with your skin, let me know and I will be happy to help you find a solution.
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