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Laser Dermatology – Age Spots

Age spots or “liver spots” are small darkened patches on the skin of adults who have been exposed to the sun over many years. Usually the face, chest, and backs of the hands are most affected by these spots. “Solar lentigines” is the medical name for these “spots”. Lasers can remove areas of excessive pigmentation leaving the texture and color of the skin natural and unchanged. Most age spots, sunspots, and birthmarks are harmless, however ALL should be assessed by a dermatologist before removal with a laser or by any other means.

How does it work?
The laser light is absorbed only by the cell containing excessive pigment and destroys the pigment granules. It does not destroy the surrounding tissues. When you leave the office, the area may be slightly red. This is followed the next day by a crust or scab that peels off after 7 to 10 days.

How many treatments will I need?
Age spots often fade or completely disappear with a single treatment (though some may require a second touch-up treatment). This treatment will not prevent the development of new separate areas of pigmentation. Regular and careful use of sunscreen is essential if new areas of pigmentation are to be prevented.

What does it feel like?
The feeling of the laser is most commonly compared to the feeling of a rubber band being snapped against the skin. Most people do not require any “numbing”, however a topical anesthetic cream is available (and recommended…why feel ANY pain?)

How do I care for the area after treatment?
Very simple. Avoid the sun and use sunscreen. Gently wash the area with soap and water. Apply petroleum jelly (Vaseline or Aquaphor). That is it! You can otherwise continue with all of your normal activities and you do not need to take even one day off of work!


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Florida Academy of Dermatology

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