The summer is now officially over, and many people are noticing spots on their faces and/or other sun-exposed skin areas that are not fading over time. Sun spots, also known as age spots, are very common, but unfortunately a very frustrating and stubborn skin issue.
These spots generally emerge as small freckles that are tan or brown. They tend to develop in areas that get the most chronic sun exposure.
It is important to remember that these areas of pigmentation are a result of the cumulative effects of the sun over many years, even dating back to a person's childhood and teenage years. So, even "being good" about sunscreen use in later life does not prevent the appearance of age spots, although it may delay them.
Lighter skin toned people are at higher risk as the spots show up sooner. However, darker-complected individuals will eventually get sun spots if don't protect their skin with sunscreen regularly.
If you already have these spots, what can you do? We at Maine Laser Skin Care generally advise our clients not to waste their money on over-the-counter spot lightening creams that are advertised heavily on TV. They simply don't work and are not cheap.
Even the prescription-strength topicals that contain hydroquinone have problems and side effects that are of significant concern. Bleaching agents such as these can leave hypopigmented or excessively lightened areas that themselves can be a cosmetic problem. Hydroquinone has also been banned in some countries due to possible association with skin cancer.
Chemical peels administered by an aesthetician can remove the top layer of pigmentation and can enhance the effects of other more aggressive treatments. Facials such as those performed with Hydrafacial or Diamond Glow technologies can improve hydration levels in the skin while also evening out skin tone irregularities.
The most effective approach to sun damage caused hyperpigmentation is the use of lasers. The laser beam will target the pigment within the cells in the pigmented spot, and generate a plume of heat that will cause these cells to loosen and exfoliate faster than the surrounding normal tone skin.
Over a series of laser treatments, even age spots that have accumulated over a period of years can be lightened and even eliminated. The darker and larger spots do take more treatments than smaller and lighter spots, as we are essentially removing layers of color with each session.
As always, future protection of the skin is an absolute must. Daily SPF sunscreen commitment will maintain the good effects of the laser therapy while also preventing future pigmentation.
Fall and winter are great seasons to attack the accumulated age spots. After all, we are not fighting against the ongoing effects of the sun as much as during the summer.
If you would like to address sun or age spots on your face or other areas of your body, give us a call in Scarborough at (207) 303-0125 or in Augusta at (207) 873-2158 for a free and confidential and individualized consultation. After several treatments, the aging effects of the sun can be vastly improved, and your skin will thank you.