Age spot laser treatment
Age spots, or liver spots as they are commonly known, are somewhat of a misnomer in that they are neither caused by the ageing process nor are they the result of liver disease. They are in fact caused by damage to the skin due to sun exposure. This is why the technical name for age spots is solar lentigines. These spots tend to be more prevalent among older people but they can affect younger folks as well, particularly those who go out in the sun frequently.
Spot it right
Deciding on the appropriate course of treatment begins with accurately identifying the problem and determining whether or not the blemishes on your skin are in fact age spots. Age spots are black or brown but are sometimes even greyish. They commonly appear on the face, neck, upper chest and the back of the hands, as these areas tend to be often exposed to the sun.
The spots are usually flat and clearly defined with a visible shape, though they vary in terms of size. These flat freckle type spots are sometimes accompanied by raised lesions known as seborrheic keratosis which occur on or around the spots. The lesions are benign and are characterised by a waxy or greasy appearance. They are superficial in nature and therefore do not require treatment except for cosmetic reasons.
There are other types of spots that are sometimes mistaken for age spots; melasma is one such example. Melasma is caused by a hormonal imbalance that results in the over-production of melanin, which is the pigment that colours the spots. It is common among pregnant women as well as women on birth control pills.
The other kind of spots that you should be wary of are those associated with melanoma or skin cancer. Unlike their benign counterparts, cancerous spots tend to be irregular in shape and colour, larger in size and tend to evolve fairly quickly. It is always wise to consult your doctor who can give you a precise diagnosis on your skin blemishes.
Understanding the treatment process
While age spots are harmless, they can affect your appearance and your confidence, especially when they occur on the face. There are a number of over-the-counter treatments that have seen great results. These include prescription creams that contain retinol or hydroquinone. Cosmetic procedures like micro-dermabrasion and chemical peels have also been used to treat age spots.
An increasingly popular option is cosmetic laser treatment of age spots. The procedure is commonly referred to as photo rejuvenation, photofacial or Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) laser treatment. It basically works by passing a laser light through the skin; the light is absorbed by the melanin which then fragments and breaks down, thus reducing the appearance of the spot. Cosmetic lasers can be extremely effective in eradicating age spots, and more and more people are turning to this procedure because they can see results far more quickly.
Most laser treatments can be performed as outpatient treatments, without the need for anaesthesia. People who have gone through the procedure describe the pain associated with it as bearable and similar to the snap of a rubber band against the skin. If pain is a concern for you, you can discuss pain-management options, including the application of ice packs or the use of local anaesthetic, with your doctor.
It is fairly common to experience swelling or redness for a couple of days after laser treatment. Your doctor can prescribe ointments and antibiotics to aid the recovery process. Post recovery care is also very important so that you get the most out of the laser treatment.
Pick up good skin habits
The most important aspect of treating and preventing the recurrence of age spots is the proper maintenance of skin. Good habits like avoiding prolonged and excessive exposure to the sun, as well as adding sunblock to your regular skincare routine, can go a long way to improving the health and appearance of your skin.
Please contact us so that we can provide you with more personalised guidance to treat your age spots.
[Photo by TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³]