Many New Yorkers are unhappy about the appearance of brown spots on their skin. Known as age spots, liver spots, or solar lentigines, these brown spots are associated with advancing age and sun exposure.
Most age spots are harmless and don’t require medical treatment, but many people find their appearance unattractive. At Hellman Dermatology, we offer several treatments that can effectively lighten or, in some cases, eliminate age spots. We also encourage having them periodically checked to ensure their benign nature.
What are age spots?
Age spots are flat tan, brown or black spots that are usually found on the areas of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun, including:
- Upper back
- Tops of feet
Age spots tend to be flat and round or oval-shaped and are noticeable because they are more darkly pigmented than the surrounding skin. Brown spots can be as small as a freckle or bigger than 0.5 inches across. They may appear alone or in patches on the skin.
While brown spots are harmless, there is a small chance that a brown spot on your skin may actually be the beginning stages of skin cancer. If you notice any unusual changes in your skin, we encourage you to contact our New York office. It’s important that a qualified dermatologist examines any new skin growths to ensure that they are not cancerous.
Who gets age spots?
Individuals with a fair complexion are most likely to develop brown spots, but they can also develop on people with darker skin. Many adults over the age of 50 have at least one age spot, but it’s not uncommon for younger people to get age spots too, especially if they spend a great deal of time outdoors.
Cause and prevention of brown spots
The most common cause of age spots is repeated exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun and, less commonly, tanning beds. Age spots form when melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color, is produced more quickly than normal, typically in response to UV light exposure. This is why age spots tend to appear on areas of the body that receive frequent and/or prolonged sun exposure. As such, the best way to prevent age spots is to limit sun exposure or wear sunscreen when outdoors for long periods.
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Before & After Photos
*Results may vary
There are several treatments available to lighten or remove age spots, which is good news for anyone who is bothered by the appearance of brown spots on their skin. At Hellman Dermatology we offer a number of safe and effective treatments. The best treatment for you will depend upon your unique skin type and the number of brown spots being treated. During your initial consultation, Dr. Hellman will explain treatment types and help you select from the following available treatments:
- Topical medications can be used to lighten brown spots. We recommend using a cream with a high percentage of hydroquinone, a traditional treatment for age spots, combined with products containing glycolic acid. In many cases, topical medications can effectively minimize the appearance of brown spots with few side effects.
- Glycolic peels and microdermabrasion can be used to gently remove the surface layers of skin to reveal fresher skin that is free of brown spots. Usually several treatments are needed to see noticeable results.
- Laser treatment is another popular treatment for brown spots. We typically use the Alexandrite laser, Fotofacial RF laser, or Er:YAG laser to treat brown spots. The laser is calibrated to target the darkly pigmented age spots, break them apart, and even out the skin tone.
Each person is different, so Dr. Hellman takes the time to assess each patient’s skin and medical history before recommending a treatment protocol to remove or lighten brown spots.
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