Age spots are a completely natural part of the aging process, and while most age spots are not dangerous they can be an unsightly and unwanted nuisance. Read on for our three recommended methods for reducing their appearance and restoring a glow to your skin.
Sun damage is a fairly common concern in our Florida-based practice, and many patients seek help in treating age spots caused by UV damage, also known as brown spots or liver spots. Depending on the severity of your spots, they can be greatly reduced or even eliminated using one of the following methods.
For patients with relatively mild spots, or for those who are trying to prevent them from occurring altogether, topical solutions provide an affordable and easy resolution. Brightening and lightening creams such as tretinoin, hydroquinone, or non-prescription lighteners are often effective at correcting pigment concerns. It should be noted that even non-prescription lighteners are most effective when used under the supervision of a physician, and everyone tolerates them differently. While topical solutions can be effective as stand alone options, they are also effective as preparation or follow up for one of the more intense options below.
Chemical peels come in a range of strengths and, depending on your goals, use different ingredients to target your hyperpigmentation. At Supriya Dermatology, we provide three different levels of chemical peels to target age spots:
- Superficial peels: the mildest type that takes off only a very little skin. The primary ingredient used in these peels is glycolic acid. Superficial peels are best used for mild pigment correction or as a preventative measure. They are best performed as a series until the desired results are achieved.
- Medium peels: penetrate deeper than superficial peels and, therefore, remove more skin. The main ingredient in these peels is trichloroacetic acid (TCA). Obagi® Blue Peel and Jessner Peel are medium depth peels. Medium depth peels can be performed as a series, or a stand alone treatment.
- Deep peels: designed to penetrate several layers of skin and may be used only on facial areas. These peels primarily contain phenol which tends to bleach the skin. Deep peels are best performed as a stand alone and are intended for lighter skin types only. Because of their extensive downtime, deep peels are best applied conservatively to gauge how the patient's skin will react, and if needed, gradually increased over time until the desired results are achieved. Also known as modified Phenol peels, deep peels require topical numbing and prescriptions can be offered to manage any pain or discomfort.
For patients with severe brown spots, laser treatments remain the gold standard in regards to results and downtime is relatively minimal. At Supriya Dermatology, we recommend one of three lasers: Fraxel, Clear + Brilliant, and Forever Young BBL.
Fraxel is renowned for it's ability to correct pigmentation problems, and for valid reason. The results delivered by Fraxel are compelling, with patients seeing a dramatic reduction in discoloration after just one treatment. While Fraxel is recommended in a series of treatments for moderate to severe discoloration, patients with lighter skin types generally tolerate this powerful laser well with downtime of about 5-7 days per treatment. Fraxel can be used on any part of the body where spots appear, and topical numbing is applied prior to the treatment to increase patient comfort.
Clear + Brilliant, also beneficial for age spot treatment, is commonly referred to as the "Baby Fraxel" because of it's ability to deliver the same results over a wider series of treatments with slightly lower energy being delivered each time. A strong part of Clear + Brilliant's appeal is that each treatment comes with little to no downtime, and it can be performed as often as once every two weeks, depending on how the patient's skin tolerates it. Clear + Brilliant is safe for use on most skin types.
Forever Young BBL is one of our most loved lasers by patients with age spots. BBL (Broad Band Light) actually uses light instead of laser energy to solely target brown pigmented cells while leaving healthy, non-pigmented cells alone. Age spots are targeted and destroyed by the light, with the spots scabbing over and eventually falling off. BBL is a quick procedure and has been described as feeling like a snapping rubber band on the skin. It is recommended for lighter skin types.
If you are considering treatment for your age spots and you aren't certain which option is best for you, call our office to set up a consultation and set up a plan that works for you.