Solar lentigines, you may also know them as age spots or liver spots, appear as you age. These larger spots look like large freckles, only they are usually black, brown, or gray. They are the result of exposure to sun and appear on the arms, back, face, and hands. Typically, age spots start showing up in your 40s.
You can use skin bleaching products to reduce the appearance of age spots, but it’s essential to have the spots checked to make sure they are not cancerous. While talking to your doctor, discuss more permanent removal methods for age spots.
Chemical peels help to improve the appearance of skin that is affected by age spots. There are several strengths ranging from light to deep, each targets a specific level of skin layers.
During a light or mild chemical peel, the doctor applies a layer of alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA) or beta hydroxyl acid (BHA) to the skin. The chemical gets to work exfoliating the top layers of skin in order to reveal younger, healthier skin found under the top layers. A light peel takes no more than half an hour, hence it’s nickname “The Lunchtime Peel.” Other acids which may be used include mandelic and phytic acid and retinoic acids.
Mild-to-Medium peels include the Obagi Blue Peel, a peel that uses trichloroacetic acid (TCA). There’s also the Vi Peel that uses phenol, TCA, and retinoic acids. This level peel really improves skin tone and pigmentation issues. You will look like you have an extreme sunburn for just under a week following this level of peel.
TCA can be used at varying levels. Medium peels using TCA are ideal for removing age spots. You need to apply retin-A to your skin for a few weeks before the peel. Expect this peel to take about 20 minutes, and it is more intense so sedatives are useful in alleviating discomfort. As you heal, your skin darkens, feels stiff, and then sheds naturally. The new skin shows fewer signs of aging.
A deep peel uses a higher percentage of phenol. This level removes many signs of aging like age spots and wrinkles. As it is the most intense of the chemical peels, you will need pain relievers for a few days. Your face will become tight and bright red before the skin flakes off.
Laser Skin Resurfacing
Through the process of laser skin resurfacing, lasers target the skin’s top layers to reveal the new, younger-looking skin layers found below the surface.
Carbon dioxide lasers emit infrared light that causes water within the skin cells to evaporate. At the same time, the heat from the light leads to increased collagen production. This helps eliminate skin that’s showing the signs of aging and replaces it with newer, younger skin. Carbon dioxide lasers are great for treating sun spots, freckles, and fine lines. Common side effects include itchy skin, pain, swelling, and tightness of the skin.
Erbium lasers give off a light that absorbs the water within the skin cells. This vaporizes the tissue. As the skin heats up, it stimulates collagen production to help tighten the new skin. Erbium lasers can cause some bruising, redness, and swelling, but these side effects disappear in approximately seven days. The procedure takes up to 45 minutes and results last for up to five years.
Learn more about these procedures that help correct age spots. Dr. Kulak is a Virginia facial plastic surgeon who specializes in correcting the signs of aging. Call her office at (703) 481-0002 or complete the “contact us” form found at VirginiaFacialPlasticSurgery.com.