03 May Brown Spots Require a Diagnosis Before Treatment
A “brown spot” could refer to a wide variety of common skin lesions and conditions. There are over 3,000 skin conditions and Spectrum Dermatology treats them all. Just like with any other skin concern, a “brown spot” requires a correct diagnosis before it can be treated. This is for a variety of reasons, starting with the fact that you don’t want to remove a potential cancerous or pre-cancerous spot before it’s biopsied.
The vast majority of brown spots are harmless. Not all brown spots are moles, either, which are the most common visual indicators of skin cancer. There are different types of skin cancer, and most will initially present as an atypical mole. Such a mole can show any of the ABCDEs of skin cancer: asymmetry, a border that isn’t uniform, more than one color (or a changing color), a diameter larger than the eraser of a pencil, and it might be evolving over time.
It’s important to conduct self-checks of moles and other brown spots at home, but nothing compares to an annual “mole check” with your dermatologist. Only a dermatologist can determine if a mole needs to be biopsied—and only a dermatologist can best treat any brown spot you might have. Whether you’re concerned that a brown spot might be suspicious or simply want it removed for cosmetic reasons, you must see a dermatologist first.
Why Brown Spots Can’t Just Be Removed
We have already seen why some brown spots can’t be simply removed. If a spot is cancerous or pre-cancerous and it is removed without being biopsied, cancerous cells could continue to spread and cause problems in the future. A biopsy checks the border of the lesion to ensure all the cancerous cells were removed. If any suspicious spots are found, your dermatologist sees if the “borders” of the biopsy are clear of malignant cells. If not, a larger excision will need to be made to ensure an “all clear” border. This is the extent of cancer treatment in the vast majority of cases. When skin cancer is caught early, it is very easy and quick to treat.
However, skin cancer safety isn’t the only reason you need to diagnose a brown spot first. There are also different treatments based on what kind of brown spot you have. Your skin tone should also be considered because although laser treatment is very effective in many cases, only certain lasers are suitable for those with darker skin tones. Otherwise, you risk unwanted skin lightening.
Treating a brown spot with a procedure that isn’t the right fit for it can be a waste of time, money, and ultimately even make the condition worse. Since only a dermatologist can diagnose a skin condition, it just makes sense to trust a dermatology clinic with both your medical and cosmetic skin care needs. In fact, medical and cosmetic conditions often overlap in the world of dermatology. For example, maybe you do have a cancerous mole that needs to be removed. Once the excision is complete, you might opt for laser treatment or a steroid injection to flatten the scar and lighten it.
Options for Brown Spot Treatment
Lasers and energy-based devices, like IPL, are some of the best treatments for all types of brown spots including freckles, sun damage, age spots, and even melasma. Some lasers can even help with varicose veins and rosacea. Another option might be a chemical peel. These peels are customized to different depths and can be a fantastic tool for eliminating sun damage, age spots, and more. Both lasers and chemical peels can also encourage collagen production, making skin become more supple and less lax in the weeks following your treatment.
With so many thousands of skin conditions, it can be easy for a layman to get confused. Any over the counter “treatment” for brown spots might not be appropriate for your skin concern and does not even come close to the results your dermatologist can provide. If you’re interested in having brown spots removed, get started by scheduling a consultation with your dermatologist to get a diagnosis first. Connect with Spectrum Dermatology today by calling the office or filling out the online form.