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Age Spots – Those brown spots that appear all of a sudden!

Age spots, Liver Spots, Solar Lentigienes

Age spots are also called liver spots and solar lentigines — are flat tan, brown or black spots. They vary in size and usually appear on the face, hands, shoulders and arms — areas most exposed to the sun.

Age spots are very common in adults older than age 50. But, younger people can get them too, especially if they spend a lot of time in the sun.

Although age spots can look like cancerous growths, true age spots are harmless and don’t need treatment. For cosmetic reasons, age spots can be lightened with skin-lightening products or removed with lasers.

What are they?

Age spots typically develop in people with a fair complexion, but they can be seen in those with darker skin. Age spots:

  • Are flat, oval areas of increased pigmentation

    Age Spots commonly found in fairer skin individuals who have been exposed to the sun frequently

    Age Spots commonly found in fairer skin individuals who have been exposed to the sun frequently

  • Are usually tan, brown or black
  • Occur on skin that has had the most sun exposure over the years, such as the backs of hands, tops of feet, face, shoulders and upper back

Age spots range from freckle size to more than 1/2 inch (13 millimeters) across and can group together, making them more prominent. In our society we see age spots mostly on the face and arms as we do not sun bathe as often. With our sun shining brightly almost every day of the year, age spots are almost inevitable.

Why do they appear?

Age spots are caused primarily by years of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun. The use of commercial tanning lamps and tanning beds can also contribute to the development of age spots although this isn’t popular in Malaysia.

The pigment in the upper layer of skin (epidermis) that gives your skin its normal color is called melanin. UV light accelerates the production of melanin, creating a tan that helps protect deeper layers of skin from UV rays. This is why you get darker after sunning yourself at the beach or after a few days of golfing.

On areas of the skin that have years of frequent and prolonged sun exposure, age spots appear when melanin becomes “clumped” or is produced in particularly high concentrations.

In our experience, most people develop age spots on the right side of their face due to the sun exposure when driving their cars. This is why a good car tint with high UV blockage is vital to prevent age spots.

How do I make them disappear?

If you’re unhappy with the appearance of age spots, treatments are available to lighten or remove them. Since the pigment is located at the base of the epidermis — the topmost layer of skin — any treatments meant to lighten the age spots must penetrate this layer of skin.

Age spot treatments include:

  • Medications. Prescription bleaching creams (hydroquinone) used alone or with retinoids (tretinoin) and a mild steroid may gradually fade the spots over several months. Be aware that the use of hydroquinone has to be under doctor’s prescription and should not be used long term. The use of our sunscreen, the UV Armour with its SPF of 50 is important when using bleaching creams. The treatments may result in temporary itching, redness, burning or dryness.
  • Laser and intense pulsed light therapy. Laser and intense pulsed light therapies destroy melanin-producing cells (melanocytes) without damaging the skin’s surface. Treatments with specialized nd-YAG lasers using the 532nm wavelength can actually remove age spots in as little as one session. However, subsequent sessions of nd-YAG laser toning is important to maintain youthful texture and prevent pigmentation.
  • Chemical peel. A chemical peel involves applying an acid, which burns the outer layer of your skin, to the age spots. As your skin peels, new skin forms to take its place. Several treatments may be necessary before you notice any results. Sun protection is strongly advised following this treatment. Temporary irritation is likely, and there’s a slight risk of discoloration. There are also chemical peels which are more organic that will not cause much downtime and still be able to lighten or remove age spots within a few sessions.

 

Age Spot cleared after a laser treatment

Age Spot cleared after a laser treatment

 

At The Retreat Clinic, we usually assess your skin condition first before the doctor will advise which treatment protocol to follow. We have found that a combination of 2 or more of the above treatments give the best and most optimal result in treating Age Spots.

As always, give us a call at 03-33437296 if you require more info or drop us a line here 🙂

Our Retreat Signature Lasers are performed only by our highly trained doctor and all patients undergoing laser treatment must be seen by our doctor first. For more info about other laser treatments, check out our main website or if you are keen on treating acne scars with laser, our last post might interest you.

 

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