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There are many treatment options that are available to help remove or lighten age spots – also referred to as liver spots, sun spots and brown spots. It’s important to distinguish age spots from other discolored, irregular lesions, such as actinic keratosis, melanoma, or any other skin cancer. Be sure to visit a dermatologist if you’ve noticed any persistent skin lesion that is dark with irregular borders or colors, has raised areas, or has recently grown or otherwise changed in appearance.

The outer layer of skin (epidermis) protects itself from the sun’s UV rays by thickening and producing more melanin. Age spots form when melanin accumulates together after severe sun damage that has been caused over the years. Age spots are harmless, however they can be unattractive and give skin an older appearance. There are many treatment options that can help diminish age spots, such as lasers, cryotherapy (freezing), electrodessication, or chemical peels.

Usually the first treatment recommended is to use a prescribed topical medication from your dermatologist. One of the most common topical prescription is a bleaching agent called hydroquinone. It works mainly by interrupting melanin formation, resulting in skin lightening – it comes in different percentages (2%, 5%, or 8%); depending upon your skin type your dermatologist will decide which percent of hydroquinone to use. Make sure to use a moisturizer and SPF with the prescribed medication as it can cause irritation and redness, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Cryotherapy, Chemical Peels & Microdermabrasion

Cryotherapy (freezing) is another treatment option for pigmented skin – it consists of liquid nitrogen that’s applied to the age spots using a cotton-tipped swab to destroy the extra pigment. It freezes the spots and will cause the skin to turn into a darker color. The scab will slough off within 2-3 weeks, and healthier skin will start to appear. Cryotherapy is an automated procedure, market lasers and chemical peels have evolved.

Chemical peels also help with the appearance of age spots and hyperpigmentation – it causes even, controlled shedding of several layers of damaged cells so that you’re left with a fresh new layer of skin. Chemical peels are a skin resurfacing technique in which a chemical solution is applied to the face to remove the outer surface layers of skin cells, allowing new, healthier skin to emerge. Chemical peels come in a range of strengths, from a deeper phenol peel (also known as the Baker-Gordon peel) to more superficial peels such as a glycolic acid peel. After the procedure, it’s completely normal to feel some stinging which will usually last for a couple minutes after it’s done, and there’s no more discomfort during the remaining time that you’re peeling. Be sure to use sun protection in order to prevent any irritation that can be caused by sun exposure.

Microdermabrasion is a painless, non-invasive procedure that involves a fine abrasive tip or crystals and a vacuum suction to remove the outer layer of dead skin. This treatment leaves your skin looking healthier, softer, and rejuvenated. Microdermabrasion removes the epidermis layer of skin only, which is perfect for evening out ones skin tone. This treatment is ideal for sun-damaged skin, age spots, acne scars, and skin discoloration. The neck and chest can also be treated to blend the skin and remove any sun damage often found in that area. Microdermabrasion is suitable for all skin types, and patients can immediately return to their normal activities. Multiple treatments in combination with sunscreen and sun avoidance can help yield the best results.

DIY Remedies / Home Remedies for Age Spots

There are DIY home-remedies that can also help with age spots for example one common example is to apply aloe Vera gel to the age spots for 30 minutes; twice daily (AM/PM). Apple Cider vinegar can help too – mix equal quantities of apple cider vinegar and water; apply it directly onto the age spots. Lemon juice is also effective for hyperpigmentation – cut a slice of lemon and apply it directly to the skin; leave on for 15 minutes. If you have sensitive skin, you can mix the lemon juice with water. Lastly, you can use hydrogen peroxide – combine one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide with one teaspoon of milk, use a Q-tip or cotton ball to apply it to the skin; leave on for 15 minutes. With these natural remedies, rinse with lukewarm water after the required time and finish off with a moisturizer.

As with any procedure consult with your dermatologist to determine which option is best to treat your age spots. Make sure to stick to your skin care routine as it’s vital to help keep your skin healthy, especially when doing these treatments. Vitamin C serum is highly recommended because it helps with anti-aging and helps protect the skin from further sun damage. If vitamin C isn’t part of your daily routine it’s definitely essential and completely safe for all skin types.

Dr. Michele S. Green, a board certified dermatologist based in NYC, practices the latest techniques in skin care to give you the look that you deserve. To learn more contact us online today or call 212-535-3088.

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