Sunspots: Causes, Treatments, And Prevention Tips

Dr. Michele S. Green M.D., FAAD., is a Board-Certified Cosmetic Dermatologist, Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, and has been an international leader in cosmetic dermatology for over 25 years. Upper East Side patients and those from the surrounding areas of New York City flock to her practice for a variety of cosmetic dermatology treatments. A graduate from Yale University, with an MD from Mount Sinai Medical School in NYC, Dr. Green treats some of the most discerning, demanding women and men in the world, with issues ranging from premature skin aging to hyperpigmentation, rosacea, acne, skin laxity, hair loss, and sun damage.

Haute Beauty Expert Dr. Michele S. Green discusses how sunspots are formed while providing treatment suggestions and prevention tips to reverse sun damage.

sunspotsPhoto Credit: Courtesy of Dr. GreenHave you often wondered what sunspots are? Sunspots, also known as age spots, are due entirely from repeated sun exposure. Through repeated ultraviolet light exposure, pigment cells are stimulated to increase the production of melanin, which causes increased pigmentation of the skin, including sunspots. While increased melanin production serves as a protective measure, to prevent our skin from burning, it has the unfortunate side effect of creating new sunspots, brown spots, and dark spots on the face and body.

What is a sunspot?

The term age spots is a misnomer, as these are actually the same as sunspots, which are not due to your age. Sunspots or age spots are due entirely to the degree of sun damage that you have sustained during your life and your genetic predisposition to producing these dark spots. With increased sun exposure, the number of sunspots and depth of pigmentation increases.

What does a sunspot look like?

Sunspots are flat areas of skin discoloration which can be light tan, brown, or varying shades in between. Sunspots do not have any texture and can appear on any part of your body which has been exposed to the sun, including your face, neck, décolletage, shoulders, back, legs, and the top of your hands. Another term for sunspots are liver spots or solar lentigines.

What causes sunspots on your skin?

In childhood, repeated sun exposure leads to freckles in sun-exposed areas. Over time, as we age and are exposed to more sun, these freckles tend to coalesce and get darker and larger and result in sunspots. These sunspots get deeper over time on your face, chest, neck, back, legs, and hands. In fact, for many patients, sunspots on the hands are one of the first visible signs of aging.

How do you remove sunspots on your skin?

There are many techniques for removing sunspots, from over-the-counter creams containing hydroquinones, Vitamin C, and retinol, to laser treatments, chemical peels, and Cosmelan. Dr. Michele Green is an expert in sunspot removal and uses a combination of treatments to remove sunspots, based on the distribution of your sunspots and skin tone.

Candela Alex-Trivantage laser for sunspots

Prior to having your age spots or sun spots treated, you should avoid sun exposure and should not have a recent tan or sunburn. A topical numbing cream is prescribed for your treatment, to be applied one hour before laser treatment, to avoid any discomfort. The sensation of the laser treatment is similar to snapping a rubber band against your skin but the procedure will be entirely painless with the topical numbing cream. A small scab will develop in each sunspot that was treated and will take approximately one week to heal. During this week you will apply Aquaphor twice a day to the treated areas and avoid sun exposure. You should refrain from wearing make-up in the treated areas for one week after having your laser treatment. The sunspots will disappear within one week after your laser treatment, and you will be left with new, healthy-looking skin.

Chemical peels for sunspots

Chemical peels are an excellent treatment to improve all over sun damage, skin texture, fine lines, and sunspots. The topical chemical solution is applied to the areas of your skin that need treatment and causes the surface layer of skin cells to peel off. As the dead skin cells exfoliate, healthy new skin cells regenerate in their place. There are many different types of chemical peels, from glycolic acid, salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acid, to trichloroacetic acid peels. Dr. Green will match the best type of chemical peel and strength, based on your skin type and discoloration, to rejuvenate your skin and remove your sunspots.

Depending on the severity of your sun damage, Dr. Green will determine if a light, medium, or deep chemical peel is necessary. Chemical peels do not just treat and remove sunspots. Chemical peels are effective at treating actinic keratoses, hyperpigmentation, discoloration, melasma, and acne. Depending on your skin tone and concern, a series of chemical peels every four weeks, will renew your skin and remove your dark spots. You will notice a visible improvement after even just one peel, however, the best cosmetic results are obtained after a series of chemical peels are performed since it takes time to reverse years of sun damage.

Fraxel laser treatment for sun damage & sunspots

Fraxel laser was the first FDA-approved fractionated laser, used to treat sun damage, sun spots, texture, stretch marks, acne scars, fine lines, and wrinkles. The Fraxel laser only treats a “fraction” of the skin and leaves the remaining skin unaffected, to minimize the downtime, making healing faster, and still being able to deliver amazing results. Fraxel laser creates “micro-injuries” on the skin, which triggers new collagen formation, and healthy new skin cells.

The Fraxel Dual has two wavelengths, the 1927 which treats predominantly pigmentation, and the 1550 which treats fine lines, wrinkles, and acne scars. A combination of the two settings can be utilized to treat both conditions at the same time, resulting in the reduction of sunspots, wrinkles, and improving skin texture, all with only a few days of recovery. Several sessions of Fraxel should be scheduled to remove sun damage and give you the best cosmetic results.

Clear + Brilliant laser treatment for sunspots

Clear + Brilliant laser is commonly referred to as a “mini-Fraxel” laser. Clear + Brilliant is a gentle resurfacing laser that was FDA approved in 2011. By using fractionated laser technology, Clear + Brilliant creates millions of microscopic treatment tones in the face, stimulates new collagen production, removes dead skin cells, and produces new healthy skin. Five treatments are best for overall improvement. There is zero downtime with the Clear + Brilliant laser and the result is facial rejuvenation, with new healthy younger-looking skin. Clear + Brilliant treats all over sun damage, sun spots, tone, texture, fine lines, and minimizes pore size. Patients of all skin tones, including darker complexions, can benefit from Clear + Brilliant laser treatment. Immediate improvement is noted after just one treatment, with continued improvement weeks laser with Clear + Brilliant laser treatment.

Sunspots Prevention

The key points to preventing sun spots or sun damage on your face are:

● Apply sunscreen daily before going outdoors.
● Reapply sunscreen at regular intervals, especially after swimming or sweating.
● Use sunscreens with an SPF 30 or higher with the proper sunblock ingredients preventing both UVA and UVB damage.
● Wear protective clothing from the sun, including broad-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts, and sunglasses.
● Avoid the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when it is strongest.

sunspotsPhoto Credit: Courtesy of Dr. GreenDr. Michele Green treats both male and female patients for sunspot removal in her discrete NYC office and many international patients fly in to consult with her. Sunspots can be treated anywhere on the body, including but not limited to the face, neck, décolletage, hands, arms, legs, and back.

Dr. Michele Green is an expert in non-invasive cosmetic treatments, such as Botox, Juvederm, and Thermage, and is consistently voted as one of the best doctors in New York. She personally performs all laser treatments in her New York-based office. Dr. Green will rejuvenate your skin and improve all pigmented from sun damage, freckles, birthmarks, sun spots, on the face, or any other area of the body. To find out which treatment would be best for you call us at 212 535 3088 or contact us online today.

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