Age Spot Removal (9/21/05)

Age Spot Removal
Last month we discussed the brown spots that we remove using bleaching cream, specifically “melasma” and “hyperpigmentation”. This month we will discuss the brown spots that respond well to laser: “age spots”.

Age spots
Their scientific name is “solar lentigines”, but we know them as “age”, “sun”, or “liver” spots. These flat brown spots range in size from one to five centimeters, and commonly appear on the hands, face, or chest in fair-skinned people of middle age. Though genetics plays a role, these spots are primarily the result of years of excessive sun exposure. Age spots respond remarkably well to laser therapy.

Photofacial
Some people call the laser treatment of brown spots on the face a “photofacial”. I prefer not to use this term because it means different things to different people. But whatever term you choose to use, the process of removing age spots with a laser is relatively simple.

How lasers work…
A laser is a light source that targets color. Each laser uses a different wavelength of light to target a specific color target. For instance, some lasers treat red targets like blood vessels. And some lasers treat brown targets like age spots. If a brown age spot is surrounded by white skin, the light energy will be absorbed by the brown age spot and reflected by the white skin, and therefore only the brown age spot will be heated up and selectively destroyed.

Your brown spots turn DARKER! (at first)
After you are treated with the laser, your brown spots actually turn darker! (at first) Each brown spot forms tiny dark speckles or “crusts”. These are like tiny scabs but they are within the skin rather than on the surface. Over a period of 7 to 10 days, the “crusted” brown spots flake off and disappear.

Aquaphor, Cetaphil, and Don’t Pick!
The only care that you must follow at home is to be gentle, and don’t pick! Cetaphil is a gentle cleanser that you will use to wash your face and Aquphor is a healing ointment that you will apply twice a day once the “crusts” form. Both are available without a prescription at any drug store. It is also advisable to minimize your sun exposure. Other than that, you can do anything you want! You can wear make-up (although it won’t cover the tiny “crusts” very well). You can go right back to work. But please…don’t pick at the tiny crusts, they will come off by themselves, and picking will only damage your skin.

The result…
See our “before and after” photos for typical results.

Note: All of our “before and after” photos are our patients after one treatment.

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