As we get older, the signs of visible aging begin to show on our skin. In addition to fine lines and wrinkles, one of the most obvious signs of aging is sun spots, also known as “liver spots” or “age spots,” which are skin spots that develop due to extensive exposure to the sun’s UV rays. These liver spots start to appear on our faces, hands, arms, neck, and shoulders. Liver spots, also known as age spots or solar lentigines, are brown or tan flat patches that form as a result of excessive sun exposure. These flat, circular spots of darkened skin are not dangerous. Still, they can be distressing cosmetically as they develop in highly visible areas – the same areas of skin that are most often exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Unlike freckles, which may fade over time, liver spots tend to merge over time and grow larger and more prominent. Age spots are most common in adults over 50 years of age and are often confused with skin cancer or other skin conditions. Sunspots are entirely benign but cosmetically unattractive. Cosmetic dermatologists like Dr. Michele Green in NYC specialize in the removal of unwanted pigmentation as a result of sun exposure, liver spots, and age spots.
There are many different treatment options for removing age spots that range from laser treatments with Fraxel, Clear + Brilliant laser, Alex-TriVantage, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), chemical peels, Cosmelan peels, to bleaching creams with hydroquinone, to microneedling with skin lightening serums, and more. Many treatments for liver spots work by removing the pigment that makes up the aged spots or by blocking the production of melanin in the pigmented area of the skin and keeping the skin light and bright. Lasers, such as the Fraxel and Alex-Trivantage, target and destroy the melanin and leave the remaining skin unaffected. The goal of removing sun spots is to remove unwanted pigmentation and promote the production of new collagen, which has the added benefit of making the skin look healthier and younger. When you are navigating your treatment options for removing liver spots, it is best to consult an expert board-certified dermatologist like Dr. Michele Green, who can help you determine the best treatment plan.
Dr. Green has been treating patients with age spots, liver spots, and other unwanted skin pigmentation issues in her Upper East Side office in New York City for more than 25 years. An expert in chemical peels, Cosmelan, skincare, pigmentation, and laser treatments, Dr. Michele Green has been consistently voted as one of the best healthcare providers in New York by New York Magazine, Castle Connolly, The New York Times, and Super Doctors. She has created a line of skincare with MGSKINLABs Inc. to promote healthy skin and remove pigmentation and sun damage. Whether it be sun spots, liver spots, melasma, generalized hyperpigmentation, or uneven skin tone, Dr. Green is here to help.
What are liver spots or sun spots?
Liver spots, also known as age spots, sun spots, or solar lentigines, are small, flat, circular, brown spots that develop from excessive exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. A liver spot, or solar lentigo, forms over time as your body’s reaction to protecting itself against sun exposure. The name “liver spots” is a confusing misnomer, as the spots have nothing to do with the function of the liver and instead are formed as a direct result of sun damage. Therefore, the most common areas in which liver spots or sun spots develop are body parts that are frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face, hands, shoulders, and arms. These age spots are very common and not dangerous and can be removed for cosmetic reasons if you find yourself dissatisfied with their appearance on the skin.
What causes liver spots and age spots?
Liver spots, also known as age spots, form as a direct result of sun exposure over a prolonged period. Ultraviolet (UV) rays harm the skin, and the body reacts by overproducing melanin to protect the skin. Melanin is a type of pigment that gives color to your hair and skin. Melanin is produced by cells called melanocytes located in the epidermis or the top layer of skin. The pigmentation of melanin serves to absorb the UV rays when sunlight hits the skin, which protects the DNA from damage. The amount of melanin in your body is directly related to your skin type or skin tone, meaning that those with lighter skin have less melanin, whereas those with darker skin have more melanin. Therefore, people with lighter skin are more likely to develop liver spots and sun spots than those with darker skin tones. When people of all skin tones are exposed to direct sunlight, the body reacts by over-producing pigmentation to help absorb the UV rays, which leads to the creation of melanin-rich lesions or liver spots. The result is that liver spots and age spots form on the areas of the body that have the most direct exposure to sunlight, such as the face, hands, and arms, where protective clothing is not typically worn.
What are the risk factors for developing dark spots and liver spots?
Liver spots, dark spots, or age spots are very common, particularly for those over 40 years of age. However, certain risk factors may make you more likely to develop liver spots over time. Liver spots develop as a result of sun damage, and as such, those who have had intense or frequent exposure to the sun or tanning beds are more likely to develop liver spots. Also, people who have had a history of severe sunburns are more likely to have these dark spots form on their skin. Another risk factor is skin type or skin tone. Those with lighter skin types naturally have less melanin in their skin. As a result, people with lighter skin are more likely to be at risk for developing this skin discoloration. However, patients with dark skin tones are also sensitive to sun exposure and suffer from sun spots and facial melasma.
What’s the difference between age spots and liver spots?
Age spots are flat, dark spots that appear on the skin’s surface due to overexposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays. There are many names for age spots, including “sun spots,” “solar lentigines,” and “liver spots.” As such, liver spots and age spots are not two different things. Rather, they are two names for the same skin condition. When healthcare providers discuss age spots, they may use the terms age spots, sun spots, and liver spots interchangeably.
What do liver spots look like?
Liver spots, also known as sun spots, age spots, and solar lentigines, are characterized by small, flat, oval dark spots on the skin. They are usually tan or dark brown and can group. These dark spots vary in size and typically appear on areas of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face, shoulders, arms, and hands. Liver spots are benign growths that do not require treatment, though they can be lightened or removed for cosmetic purposes.
What do age spots look like?
Age spots are another name for liver spots, which are a skin condition characterized by hyperpigmentation in skin areas most commonly exposed to the sun, such as the face, shoulders, arms, and hands. Age spots are flat tan or brown spots that can range in size from as small as a freckle to as large as half an inch in diameter. Caused by overexposure to the sun, age spots typically develop in adults over the age of 50, but high sun exposure in youth can make age spots appear in younger patients as well. Unlike freckles on children, which will fade over time, age spots remain on the skin, contributing to a speckled appearance.
Do liver spots itch?
Liver spots or age spots are not harmful or cancerous, and they are typically not associated with itchiness or pain. However, if you notice a new dark spot of concern, be sure to have it checked by an experienced board-certified dermatologist like Dr. Green. Dr. Green will visually inspect the dark spot to determine if it is an age spot or other skin disorder. If a dark spot is bleeding, has irregular borders, changes in diameter, gets darker, or itching, it is best to have Dr. Green carefully assess and biopsy it to ensure that the growth is not cancerous.
Can liver spots go away?
Unlike freckles, which can fade over time, liver spots do not typically disappear independently. Freckles are small spots of pigmentation that are more common in younger people, which are more prominent in the summertime and fade in the winter. Freckles can sometimes become less pronounced as we age. Liver spots, however, form over many years of sun exposure and become more prominent with age. If you want to eliminate liver spots, you must do so with a cosmetic dermatological procedure, such as chemical peels, laser treatments, or skin-lightening creams.
Can you get rid of liver spots?
Yes! While true liver spots are not actually dangerous, patients can choose to have them removed for cosmetic reasons. When many patients hear the phrase “removed,” they automatically think of cryotherapy, which is when liquid nitrogen is applied to the melanin-rich lesion to freeze the pigmented cells. Eventually, the sunspots, damaged by the freezing, will fall off. However, this treatment method is outdated, and Dr. Green uses alternate treatments in her office that are both more effective and less uncomfortable. Some of these non-invasive treatments include laser treatments with Fraxel or Alex TriVantage, chemical peels, Cosmelan peels, or Mesopeels, and skin-lightening creams containing hydroquinone or tranexamic acid. Consult with Dr. Michele Green in her NYC office to find out the safest and most effective liver spot treatment option for your skin type.
How do I get rid of liver spots?
There are a number of different non-invasive treatment options for eliminating the appearance of liver spots, and the best first step is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Michele Green. Dr. Green is a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist with over two and a half decades of experience treating some of the most discerning patients from around the world for a myriad of skin conditions, including liver spots. In her private, boutique dermatology office located in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, Dr. Green will carefully examine the area of concern and make recommendations for the best cosmetic treatments for you. Dr. Green will assess the location, size, and severity of the age spots in order to determine the treatment or combination of treatments that will eliminate the lesions and ensure that the sunspots do not return. The treatment options in Dr. Green’s office include laser therapy, intense pulsed light therapy, chemical peels, HydraFacials, Microneedling, Vivace, Cosmelan, Mesopeels, and a variety of topical creams and broad-spectrum sunscreens to eliminate sunspots, lighten the skin, and protect the skin from further age spots.
What are the best liver spot treatment options?
There are various liver spot or age spot treatment options available in cosmetic dermatology, and there is no one “best” treatment that works equally on all skin types. To safely and effectively remove liver spots, it is best to consult an experienced dermatologist like Dr. Green. Below are some of the treatment options that Dr. Green frequently recommends at her NYC-based dermatology office:
- Chemical Peels
- Microneedling with Depigmentation Serum
- Cosmelan peels
- Fraxel Laser
- Alex TriVantage laser
- Skin Lightening creams
- Skin Care with Retinoids
- Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen
- Vivace Microneedling
- Clear + Brilliant Laser
- Permea Laser
- Oral Tranexamic Acid
Does skin color affect the choice of the best treatment to remove age spots?
Yes! Skin color and skin type play a significant role in choosing the best treatment option to remove age spots, liver spots, and solar lentigines. Certain laser treatments, for example, work to remove dark spots by targeting and destroying the melanin in the skin. Melanin is the pigment that gives the hair and skin their color, and age spots are formed when there is an overproduction of melanin from sun exposure that increases to form dark spots. Darker skin tones naturally have more melanin in the skin than lighter skin tones, which means patients with dark skin are not candidates for these types of lasers as the laser will target healthy skin and potentially damage the skin, cause a burn, or worsen the hyperpigmentation. Patients with darker skin types are also more prone to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, so laser treatments such as Fraxel should not be used on dark skin. Those with darker skin types may be a better candidate for topical treatments, such as chemical peels, Cosmelan peels, Mesopeels, or skin-lightening creams, such as hydroquinone or tranexamic acid. To prevent unwanted side effects from cosmetic treatments, consult board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michele Green in her Upper East Side dermatology office, who is well-experienced in all skin types and skin tones and will customize the safest, most effective age spot treatment plan for you.
Laser treatments to remove sun spots
There are several varieties of laser treatments available in Dr. Green’s office, each serving a slightly different function. Dr. Green will determine the laser treatment that is best for you by assessing the size and location of the melanin-rich lesion as well as your skin type. Laser treatment for sun spots works by emitting a wavelength of light into the dermis, which targets the pigment-rich areas of the skin. The light is absorbed by the pigmented cells and is then converted into heat energy, which destroys the melanin-rich cells. The body then produces new skin, which is lighter, brighter, and younger-looking. Laser treatments are safe and effective and can permanently remove liver spots as long as you take care not to expose the skin to direct sunlight following the treatment.
Candela Alex TriVantage Laser
The Candela Alex TriVantage Laser is designed to treat discreet, localized liver spots. The Candela Alex TriVantage is a ndYag laser that eliminates pigmented lesions with minimal discomfort and little recovery time. Depending on how dark the sunspot is, you may need one to two treatments to remove the discoloration and undesired pigmentation fully. The effect of the treatment becomes visible 1 to 2 weeks after receiving the procedure. If a second treatment is needed, a one-month interval is needed to allow the skin to heal fully between desired treatments.
Fraxel Laser Treatment for Sun Spots and Age Spots
The Fraxel Dual laser has two different wavelengths: one to treat sun spots, lentigos, hyperpigmentation, and actinic keratoses, and another to treat acne scars, fine lines, and wrinkles. The 1550 nm wavelength is best suited to treat fine lines, wrinkles, and acne scars, while the 1927 nm setting treats discoloration such as liver spots and age spots. The Fraxel laser creates thousands of controlled, microscopic injuries to the skin to stimulate its natural healing process and promote collagen synthesis and new skin cells. The two settings can be used in combination to treat many signs of the natural aging process – at once eliminating wrinkles and liver spots. When treating pigmentation, the Fraxel Laser is designed to target melanin in the pigmented cells while leaving the surrounding skin unaffected. For that reason, however, Fraxel Lasers are best used for patients with lighter skin (Fitzpatrick Skin Types I-III) to avoid any unnecessary side effects for patients with darker skin tones. Depending on the degree of pigmentation, the number of sun spots, and the degree of sun damage, you may need three Fraxel laser treatments to remove all of the unwanted pigmentation. Each Fraxel laser treatment should be scheduled one month apart for optimal cosmetic results. For patients with darker skin tones, the Clear + Brilliant laser may be a more appropriate option for removing unwanted liver spots and sun spots.
Clear + Brilliant Laser Treatment
The Clear + Brilliant Laser is sometimes referred to as the “mini-Fraxel” laser, as it is best used to treat smaller areas of pigmentation, sun spots, liver spots, and age spots. The Clear + Brilliant Laser is also advantageous as it is a gentle laser that can be used on patients of almost all skin types, from light skin tones to darker skin tones, and is safe and effective for all. With the Clear + Brilliant Laser treatment, patients can expect skin rejuvenation in addition to the elimination of pigmentation, as the laser dispels the melanin-rich lesions and triggers the production of collagen for new, healthy skin. While the effects of the treatment can be seen almost immediately following the procedure, Dr. Green recommends five to six treatment sessions, depending on the severity, to produce the best results. There is no recovery time after the Clear + Brilliant laser, and patients can resume their daily schedule without any side effects.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Treatment
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Treatment, also known as photo-rejuvenation or photo facial, uses wavelengths of light to treat pigmentation and fine lines, as well as improve the texture and feel of the skin. Unlike most lasers, which use a single wavelength of light, IPL treatment uses several different wavelengths of light to combat the signs of aging on many levels. When the IPL device is applied to the skin, it emits a wavelength of light that penetrates the dermal layer of the skin and is absorbed into the melanin-rich lesion. The pigmented cells that make up the liver spot convert the light energy into heat, which destroys the pigmented cells. This triggers the production of collagen, which leads to the creation of new, healthy skin.
The IPL treatment is not painful and requires no recovery time following the procedure. Patients report that the treatment itself feels like a rubber band being lightly snapped on the surface of the skin. Due to the minimal discomfort caused by the procedure, Dr. Green typically does not apply a topical numbing cream to the treatment area, as it is unnecessary. Before the procedure, Dr. Green recommends that you do not use topical retinoids or tanning beds, as a tan in the treatment area can disrupt the function of the IPL treatment. Dr. Green also recommends the use of sunscreen of at least SPF 50 to avoid unwanted sun exposure following the procedure, in addition to sun-protective clothing.
Dr. Green employs a variety of proprietary chemical peels at her New York City office, which can be used to exfoliate and rejuvenate the skin, eliminating pigmentation such as liver spots and unclogging the pores. Using peels containing glycolic acid or trichloroacetic (TCA) acid, Dr. Green’s chemical peels are safe and effective at treating liver spots by gently exfoliating the outer layer of the skin. Removing the dead skin cells and pigmented cells triggers the production of new skin, which leaves you with more even, brighter, and healthier-looking skin. Chemical peels range in strength and composition and are adjusted to address different levels of discoloration caused by liver spots on various skin tones.
The Cosmelan chemical peel employs a proprietary combination of ingredients to eliminate discoloration and stimulate the creation of healthier skin. The Cosmelan peel is applied at Dr. Green’s office and left on for several hours – Dr. Green will determine the exact amount of time based on your treatment area – after which it can be removed at home with a gentle cleanser. The treatment will trigger an initial peeling, which will reduce the pigmentation on your face. Mild side effects of this process can include redness, scabbing, and dryness, but Dr. Green may recommend a gentle cleanser and rich moisturizing creams to address these mild side effects. Following the Cosmelan peel, Dr. Green may also prescribe topical serums and creams from her MGSKINLABS, Inc. line of skincare products. These products will complement the Cosmelan peel, which includes hydroquinones, kojic acid, and azelaic acid, among other proprietary ingredients. It is also imperative to use sunscreen and practice complete sun avoidance following the treatment.
Cosmelan treatment – 6 weeks
Mesopeels are chemical peels that are specifically designed to treat hyperpigmentation in sensitive areas. The Mesopeel works in the same way as other chemical peels: by gently exfoliating the skin, which removes dead skin cells and triggers the creation of new collagen for rejuvenated skin. Unlike the Cosmelan peel, which is left on the skin for several hours, Mesopeels are left on for a matter of minutes before being removed, and the amount of time applied varies depending on the treatment area. Following the Mesopeel procedure, Dr. Green may also prescribe lotions and creams from her MGSKINLABS, Inc. line of products for the best and lasting results.
Skincare Products – MGSKINLABS, Inc.
There are many over-the-counter products available for treating facial discoloration and pigmentation. However, there is a lot of confusion as to which products to use and for which skin tones. To this end, Dr. Michele Green has designed a complete line of products, including skin-lightening lotions and creams, to help improve skin tone, texture, sun damage, and liver spots. Dr. Green has also developed her pigmentation program so that patients can use prescription topical hydroquinone creams at home. The program combines retinol to exfoliate the skin and promote cell turnover, Vitamin C Serum, which is a powerful antioxidant and skin-lightening serum, with hydroquinone-free skin-lightening creams to brighten the skin gently. Along with these products, Dr. Green may prescribe a gentle cleanser and rich moisturizers to keep your skin smooth and fresh and further promote the skin’s health and wellness.
Similar to a chemical peel, micro-dermabrasion works to exfoliate the skin and promote the production of collagen to generate smooth, light, and rejuvenated skin. However, unlike a chemical peel, which uses a mask to exfoliate the skin, microdermabrasion treatment employs aluminum oxide crystals to gently remove dead skin cells and eliminate discoloration in the skin. Patients may require several treatments in order to receive the best cosmetic results.
A HydraFacial is a three-step process to rejuvenate the skin and remove pigmentation, as well as treat acne, acne scars, and redness. It is safe and effective for all skin tones. The process starts with a gentle cleansing of the face, which removes dead skin cells, dirt, and debris and hydrates the skin. This first step can be performed with the MD Active-4-cleanser and a glycolic acid chemical peel. Next, Dr. Green will exfoliate the skin using a specially designed device with vortex technology to suction the skin gently and remove the dead skin cells and clogged pores. Lastly, Dr. Green will apply serums and moisturizers designed to hydrate the skin and promote cell turnover for healthy, fresh, clearer skin. HydraFacial boosters like Britenol have gentle brighteners and vitamin C antioxidants to brighten and balance skin tone and soften the appearance of dark spots and age spots.
Microneedling with skin-lightening serums
Microneedling, also known as collagen induction therapy, is another treatment option available in Dr. Green’s office and is effective in eliminating liver spots and acne scars, as well as improving the texture of the skin. The procedure involves piercing the skin with tiny microneedles, which create a series of micro-injuries in the treatment area. The body reacts to the small wounds by producing new collagen, which leads to smoother, healthier, brighter skin. Another benefit of microneedling is that the procedure allows any skincare products applied afterward to penetrate deeper into the skin. Microneedling, therefore, can be paired with the application of rejuvenating serums or Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), which further stimulates the creation of collagen in the skin. Dr. Green often utilizes a depigmenting serum during the microneedling treatment to lighten and soften hyperpigmentation and age spots. The treatment itself is painless, and Dr. Green applies a topical numbing cream to minimize any discomfort. For the best results, Dr. Green recommends receiving about three microneedling treatments spaced approximately one month apart.
Oral Tranexamic Acid
Tranexamic acid is commonly used topically to lighten pigmentation, and it can be prescribed as an oral medication as a treatment for melasma. Tranexamic acid is a synthetic derivative of lysine that is prescribed as an antifibrinolytic agent to treat bleeding disorders. Recent clinical studies have shown its efficacy as an off-label prescription in treating melasma and hyperpigmentation. Oral tranexamic acid, at a low dosage, can be used to slow UV-induced melanin synthesis without the blood clotting effects at a higher dosage. Tranexamic acid has been found to inhibit tyrosinase activity to reduce hyperpigmentation. Tyrosinase is an enzyme that catalyzes the first step of melanin synthesis from the protein tyrosine. Oral tranexamic acid treatment can be used in conjunction with topical treatments to achieve the best cosmetic results. To find out if oral tranexamic acid is the right treatment for you, contact Dr. Michele Green at her NYC-based dermatology office.
Are liver spots dangerous?
No. Age spots or liver spots themselves are not dangerous; they are only a cosmetic concern. However, signs of malignant melanoma, which are skin cancerous lesions or melanin-rich lesions on the skin, can look similar to liver spots. Malignant melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer and develops within the melanocytes themselves. Melanoma is induced by genetics, ultraviolet sun exposure, and UV radiation from tanning beds. The appearance of sun spots or liver spots is flat, mostly even in color and size, and generally symmetric in appearance. Malignant melanoma lesions are characterized by the “ABCDEs” characteristics of melanoma. Generally, there is asymmetry, irregular borders, changes in color, and a diameter of more than 6 millimeters, and it is evolving or changing over time (in either size, color, or shape). If you are concerned about the appearance of a new dark lesion on your skin, it is best to have it examined by an expert board-certified dermatologist, such as Dr. Michele Green in New York City. Skin cancer is a frequently discussed and well-researched topic in healthcare because of its prevalence and potential for malignancy. Dr. Green is highly experienced in all skin types and will be able to ascertain if the lesion is a benign liver spot or potentially dangerous skin cancer and determine if a skin biopsy and other treatments are needed.
How to distinguish a new growth from an age spot?
If you notice a new growth or a new dark spot on your body, you may wonder if it is something to be concerned about. When in doubt, it is always best to have a complete skin exam by an experienced, board-certified dermatologist like Dr. Green, who can visually assess any growths, moles, and dark spots and determine if a skin biopsy or other treatments are necessary. This is especially the case if there is a family history of skin cancer. Other spots that become more prevalent with age include seborrheic keratoses, actinic keratoses, and skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
Age spots, sun spots, and liver spots are characterized by small, flat, oval spots that are tan or dark brown. Because UV rays cause them, they commonly appear in areas that are frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face, hands, shoulders, and arms. These dark spots are not dangerous and not cancerous and can be lightened or removed for cosmetic reasons using lasers, chemical peels, or topical methods.
Seborrheic keratosis is a common benign and noncancerous growth characterized by oval or circular growths that are waxy, slightly raised in texture, and tan, brown, or black. They vary in size and number and can be itchy and irritating if they are constantly rubbed on clothing. Seborrheic keratosis can be easily removed via cryotherapy, electrocautery, or shaving or scraping.
Actinic keratosis is characterized by a rough, scaly patch on the skin that is caused by prolonged exposure to the sun. It is most commonly found on the face, lips, ears, hands, neck, and forearms, as these areas are frequently exposed to the sun. Actinic keratosis lesions can potentially become cancerous, so they are typically removed and treated when found.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer that occurs when ultraviolet rays damage DNA and trigger uncontrolled growth of basal cells in the epidermis. Basal cells are one of the three main types of cells in the superficial layer of the skin. BCCs appear differently on each person, though they can look like open sores, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps, or scars with elevated edges and indentation in the center. On darker skin, BCCs can present as pigmented lesions.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer that is also caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays. In SCC, overexposure to UV rays triggers changes in squamous cells, one of the three main types of skin cells present in the epidermis. SCCs are characterized by red patches or firm red nodules, open sores, and rough and thickened skin that is wart-like or raised growths with a depression at the center. Although it commonly appears in sun-exposed areas of the body, those with darker skin are more likely to develop SCC in areas that are not exposed to the sun.
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer in which malignant cells develop in the melanocytes. Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body, including areas that are not exposed to the sun. In darker skin tones, melanoma can develop on the soles of the feet, the palms of the hands, or fingernail beds. The ABCDE acronym is utilized in dermatology to identify unusual moles that may indicate melanoma or other types of skin cancers:
- A for Asymmetry – Irregularly shaped moles in which one half looks different from the other half.
- B for Border – Moles with irregular, scalloped, notched, or poorly defined borders.
- C for Color – Uneven distribution of color or varying colors within the spot, such as varying shades of tan, brown, black, white, red, or blue.
- D for Diameter – New growth or a new mole that is 6 mm or greater in diameter.
- E for Evolving – Moles that change in size, shape, or color over time. Symptoms may also evolve, such as itchiness, pain, or bleeding.
Do liver spots grow in size?
Liver spots develop due to repeated or extreme exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. They form due to increased melanin production, which coalesce in a single location, creating a tan or brown spot. Once they have formed, however, they do not typically grow. If you notice an asymmetrical spot with irregular borders that is growing, shifting, getting darker, or changing, that could be a sign of malignant melanoma or skin cancer. If you are noticing changes in spots on your body, it is best to consult Dr. Green so she can determine whether the spots are harmless liver spots or cancerous lesions.
How to treat age spots
Many patients wonder what is the best way to treat unwanted pigmentation, sun spots, and liver spots. Dr. Michele Green has the most effective cutting-edge chemical peels and laser treatments to remove unwanted age spots. When you schedule your consultation with Dr. Green, she will assess the treatment area to determine the severity and scope of the condition. From that determination and taking into consideration your specific needs and aesthetic goals, Dr. Green will develop the treatment plan that is right for you. Your treatment plan may be a single treatment option or a combination of several treatments in order to achieve the best cosmetic results.
What are liver spots on the face? How to remove age spots on the face
Liver spots are brown or tan, flat, round spots that develop in any area that has been exposed to extreme sunlight. The face is a common area for liver spots to develop, as the face is infrequently covered by protective clothing and, therefore, an area of the body that is often directly exposed to the sun. If you are often outside between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm, when the sun is at its most intense, and you have neglected to wear sun protection such as sunscreen, you may be at greater risk for developing liver spots on your face. Liver spots on the face can still be eliminated using any of the methods listed above, including laser therapy, IPL treatment, chemical peels, HydraFacials, microneedling, and using a combination of skin lightening creams and lotions containing kojic acid or tranexamic acid.
How to get rid of liver spots naturally?
Daily application of sunscreen with SPF 50 or higher, along with wearing sun-protective clothing like a wide-brimmed hat, is very important in preventing liver spots and age spots. As discussed, these dark spots develop from exposure to the sun’s UV rays, so protecting your skin from the sun is the first step in preventing the pigmentation from getting worse. Incorporating skincare products high in antioxidants, such as vitamin C serums, can help soften the appearance of liver spots and age spots. Antioxidants help protect the skin from harmful UV rays and free radical damage associated with the sun, environmental toxins, and pollution. Vitamin C has been shown to stimulate skin cell turnover, removing the top layer of dead skin cells that hold the pigment to make way for new, healthy skin cells that are more even in skin tone. MGSKINLABS, Inc. Vitamin C Serum is a fan-favorite at Dr. Green’s office for these reasons.
Retinol products available over the counter can also help lighten liver spots. Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, also stimulates skin cell turnover to remove the outer layer of dead skin cells and encourage new skin cell growth. Many patients at Dr. Green’s office use MGSKINLABS, Inc.’s Essential Antioxidant Infusion at night, along with the Vitamin C Serum, to achieve and maintain a healthy and youthful glow. Some brightening products may contain chemical exfoliants, such as glycolic acid, a type of alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) that sloughs off the top layer of dead skin cells to reduce hyperpigmentation. Kojic acid is another popular ingredient that works as a skin-lightening agent by inhibiting the formation of tyrosine, an amino acid essential in producing melanin.
Some of the ingredients in skincare products that work to lighten dark spots may be irritating, especially if used incorrectly, which can worsen hyperpigmentation. Furthermore, over-the-counter products may not achieve the cosmetic results that you are looking for in eliminating liver spots and age spots. Consult with Dr. Green before trying laser treatments, chemical peels, and skincare products to create a treatment plan that will safely and effectively remove sun spots, age spots, and liver spots.
How to get rid of liver spots on the hands
Hands are one of the most common areas for age spots and sun spots to present because the hands are frequently exposed to the sun over time. Luckily, age spots on the hands can be addressed through many of the same methods as age spots on the face. Laser resurfacing treatments with the Fraxel and Alex TriVantage lasers are both used for erasing the appearance of liver spots on the face and can be used for the same purpose to treat the backs of the hands. The treatment that will be recommended for eliminating age spots on your hands will ultimately be dependent on the type of dark spots that are present, as well as your skin type and skin tone. Dr. Green is a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist with over two and a half decades of experience treating the appearance of age spots and other evidence of sun damage and will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is best for your concerns.
AlexTrivantage for dark spots on the arm
Can a dermatologist remove age spots?
Consulting with a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist is the best first step and often the most effective approach for removing age spots. Noticing a new dark spot can be unsettling, and a dermatologist is an expert who can determine whether or not a biopsy should be performed to evaluate the area of discoloration further. Even if the dark spot or dark spots are benign, they can be frustrating evidence of sun damage. When it comes to treating pigmentation, it is important to be evaluated and treated by a medical professional who can suggest treatments that are safe and effective for treating your skin type, skin tone, and skin concerns. A cosmetic dermatologist like Dr. Michele Green in NYC has the expertise and experience to recommend a unique combination of in-office procedures and specially formulated skincare to diminish the appearance of age spots entirely.
What deficiency causes liver spots?
Although the word “liver” is called “liver spots,” these melanin-rich lesions do not form due to liver function or vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Liver spots, also known as age spots or sun spots, are caused by overexposure to the sun’s UV rays. UV rays are harmful to the skin, damaging DNA at a cellular level and causing signs of premature aging. The melanocytes (pigment-producing cells) in the epidermis of the skin produce melanin (pigment) to absorb the UV rays and protect the skin from sun damage. When the melanocytes produce too much melanin, the pigment clumps together to form brown spots on the skin. Liver spots are harmless and do not require medical intervention, but they can be removed for cosmetic reasons.
What causes liver spots on your skin?
Liver spots appear when overexposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays triggers the overproduction of melanin. UVA and UVB rays can cause damage to the DNA in the skin, and the melanocytes will produce melanin in response to sun exposure to protect the skin from damage. Over time, this increased melanin production can lead to the appearance of liver spots on the skin’s surface. Liver spots appear most commonly on areas of the skin that are most frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face, hands, arms, and shoulders.
When do liver spots appear?
According to the Mayo Clinic, liver spots begin appearing when patients are in their 40s and 50s. However, extensive sun exposure can lead to the appearance of liver spots in younger patients as well. Typically, areas of pigmentation, such as freckles, will begin to merge over time, forming speckled or mottled areas of hyperpigmentation on the skin’s surface. The appearance of liver spots can be prevented by wearing sunscreen and avoiding direct sun exposure. Prevention strategies need to be started early in life to ensure that liver spots do not appear later.
What does the beginning of liver spots look like?
Liver spots can vary in size and color but are typically flat and brown or tan. They form due to sun exposure over time and are most commonly found on the face, arms, shoulders, and backs of the hands. Some liver spots are small and resemble freckles, while others can be as large as half an inch in diameter. Sometimes, areas of pigmentation, such as freckles, can merge to form liver spots, resulting in a mottled appearance of the skin.
What do liver spots indicate?
Liver spots indicate that a patient was exposed to UV rays without protection – either from the sun or commercial tanning beds – resulting in hyperpigmentation on the skin. Liver spots are not dangerous and are not a sign of skin cancer. However, some patients find they do not like the look of liver spots and opt to have them removed with the help of a board-certified dermatologist, such as Dr. Green. If you are worried about an area of pigmentation on the skin, the best course of action is to schedule a consultation with a dermatologist who can examine the skin spot.
How to prevent liver spots
Liver spots are a common skin condition for patients with lighter skin tones and can be prevented with proper sun protection. Dr. Green recommends practicing strict sun avoidance to prevent the formation of sunspots. To do so, patients should always wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher whenever they go outside and reapply every two hours. Between 10 am and 2 pm, the sun is at its most intense, so if you must be outside, be sure to wear and reapply sunscreen. Patients can also protect their skin by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and tightly woven clothing when going outside.
Does the liver cause liver spots?
The origin of the name “liver spots” is not certain, though today, we recognize the term as a misnomer. Liver spots, in actuality, have nothing to do with the function of the liver. Some say that the term “liver spots” arose because people used to think that the spots were related to the function of the liver. Others say that the name was given to the spots due to their liver-like color. Regardless, the name remains but can be used interchangeably with other terms such as sun spots or age spots.
Why are age spots called liver spots?
Age spots and liver spots are two different names for the same condition characterized by discoloration on the skin’s surface due to unprotected sun exposure. At one time, people believed that dark spots on the skin were an indication of poor liver function because they were the same color as the liver, but this is not true. The term “liver spots” is a misnomer, meaning that liver spots have nothing to do with the liver’s function.
How do I get started with age spots/liver spot treatment today?
Liver spots and age spots on visibly sun-damaged skin can cause us to look drastically prematurely aged and negatively impact self-esteem. If you are frustrated by the appearance of sunspots on your face, hands, or body, Dr. Green in NYC can help. In her private cosmetic dermatology office, Dr. Green offers many safe and effective non-invasive treatment options for all the signs of aging, including liver spots. Creating a brighter, smoother complexion that is more even in tone and texture is a completely achievable cosmetic goal, and Dr. Green is the expert. As an internationally renowned cosmetic dermatologist with over 25 years of experience customizing the treatment plans of her patients from around the globe, Dr. Green will rejuvenate and improve your skin as a result of pigmentation from sun damage, freckles, sunspots on the face or any other area of the body.
Dr. Michele Green embraces a holistic approach and ‘less is more’ philosophy when it comes to rejuvenation and is consistently voted as one of the best dermatologists in New York by Castle Connolly, Super Doctors, and New York Magazine. When you consult with Dr. Green, she will work with you to customize a unique treatment plan that incorporates the in-office procedures and specially formulated skincare products best suited to you and your situation. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Green and learn more about erasing liver spots and minimizing other visible signs of aging, call the NYC-based office at 212 535 3088 or contact us online today.