Time Leaves Its Mark – As people age, unsightly blemishes, commonly called age spots, (also called brown spots or liver spots), can appear on the face, chest and on the back of the arms and hands.
Age spots are sharply defined, rounded, brown or black, flat patches of skin. The epidermis (top surface layer) is expanding with more pigment, developing what looks like a large freckle. One may appear by itself, or as a few clustered together.
The spots are not cancerous, nor do they lead to cancer. However, on skin exposed to the sun, they may be accompanied by precancerous scaly, red elevations of the skin called actinic keratoses. Dark spots, which might be cancerous, may also appear to be lentigines. All of these blemishes should be evaluated by a dermatologist.
Many people have a hereditary predisposition to them. While brown age spots may develop at an early age, even in childhood, they are more common in older people, especially those who have spent too much time in the sun.
Although nothing can be done about the role heredity plays, excessive exposure to the sun should be avoided – a precaution that will diminish the threat of skin cancer as well as protect your skin from sun-damage.
Treatment of age spots involves a multifactorial approach starting with sunscreen with a minimum spf of 30 and then can progress to prescription bleaching creams, chemical peels and possible laser treatments. Results last longer if strict photoprotection is observed post treatment.
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The most simple treatment to protect the skin from further damage and worsening of the spots is use of a sunscreen. Sunscreen is also important after other treatment methods so the spots will not recur.
These are topical applications prescribed by the physician to fade small spots. Treatment normally takes anywhere from two months to a year or longer.
The dermatologic surgeon freezes the skin tissue with liquid nitrogen to remove age spots and skin growths.
A chemical solution is applied to peel away the blemished skin. The face and hands usually heal in one to two weeks.
The skin is sanded lightly with a special instrument to remove the spot. Upon healing, which normally takes a week or so, the age spot is gone.
New techniques with various lasers are used to remove the spots. A beam of laser light is directed at the age spots to selectively eliminate the damaged skin.
Spectrum Dermatology provides expertise, knowledge and passion to medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology. Our experience and reputation make Spectrum Dermatology one of the most sought-after dermatologist in the Scottsdale and Phoenix area. For more information or to set up an appointment please contact us at (480) 948-8400.