Have you often wondered what sun spots 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 sun spots. While increased melanin production serves a protective measure, to prevent our skin from burning, it has the unfortunate side effect of creating new sun spots, brown spots, and dark spots on the face and body.
Dr. Michele Green is an expert in treating sun spots, discoloration, and other disorders of hyperpigmentation in her private NYC Upper East Side office. A board certified dermatologist, Dr. Green is uniquely skilled at removing sun spots and facial pigmentation, through cutting edge laser treatments and chemical peels. Dr. Green has the best treatments for the removal of sun spots and age spots, with the most advanced laser treatments for removing unwanted pigmentation.
If you are tired of facial or body discoloration, sun spots, or age spots, Dr. Green is here to help remove these unwanted dark spots and help protect your skin from future hyperpigmentation. By creating a customized treatment plan for you, and incorporating the best skincare, broad spectrum sunscreen, Dr. Green will help you maintain even, beautiful, clear skin.
What is a sun spot?
The term age spots is a misnomer, as these are actually the same as sun spots, which are not due to your age. Sun spots 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 sun spots and depth of pigmentation increases.
What does a sun spot look like?
Sunspots are flat areas of skin discoloration which can be light tan, brown, or varying shades in between. Sun spots 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 sun spots are liver spots or solar lentigines.
What causes sun spots 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 sun spots. These sun spots get deeper over time on your face, chest, neck, back, legs, and hands. In fact, for many patients, sun spots on the hands are one of the first visible signs of aging.
45-54 year old woman treated with age spots treatment
How do you remove sun spots on your skin?
There are many techniques for removing sunspots, from over-the-counter creams containing hydroquinones, Vitamin C, and retinols, to laser treatments, chemical peels, and Cosmelan. Dr. Michele Green is an expert in sun spot removal and uses a combination of treatments to remove sun spots, based on the distribution of your sun spots and skin tone. Patients with Fitzpatrick type I and II skin types are generally treated with different lasers and methods than patients with darker type III through V skin, such as Asian, Latina, and African American skin. Choosing the right laser, based on your skin tone and condition, is fundamental to having the best cosmetic results. The following list are the skin-treatments which Dr. Green utilizes in her NYC private office to remove sun spots:
- Candela Alex-Trivantage Laser for discreet sun spots.
- Fraxel laser for fractionated resurfacing of sun spots, actinic keratoses, sun damage, fine lines, and acne scars.
- Clear + Brilliant Laser which is a “mini-Fraxel” to treat skin texture, discoloration, sunspots, and decrease pore size.
- Cosmelan peels which are especially popular to treat melasma.
- Chemical Peels using a variety of proprietary chemical peels containing glycolic and trichloroacetic (TCA) acid.
- Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) The IPL laser, or photofacial, works to treat pigmentation, redness, fine lines and skin tightening, to improve the overall color and texture of the skin.
- MGSKINLABS Inc. has the best skin lightening creams and lotions, some compounded with hydroquinone and Retin-A, to lighten and brighten the skin.
- Mesopeels and hydroquinone-free lightening creams.
- Microdermabrasion to gently remove the epidermal layer of the skin and even out texture, discoloration, and fine lines.
- Hydrafacial with boosters to remove facial pigmentation, acne, and redness.
- Microneedling with serums or PRP to induce new collagen production and help decrease the appearance of sun spots, improve skin texture, and help treat acne scars.
- Cryotherapy with liquid Nitrogen to freeze away the sun spots.
How does the Candela Alex-Trivantage laser work for sun spots?
Prior to having your age spots or sun spots treated, you should avoid sun exposure and should not have a recent tan or sun burn. A topical numbing cream is prescribed 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 sun spot 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.
Female 35-44 years old. AlexTrivantage for dark spots 2 months before and after
The benefits of the Alex-Trivantage laser include
• Removes sun spots and age spots
• Removes tattoos including black, blue, red, and green colors
• Stimulates new collagen production to improve skin tone
• Requires only one or two treatments to remove sun spots
59 Year Old Male, AlexTrivantage for sun spots, 2 month post treatment, 2 treatments
Chemical peels for sun spots
Chemical peels are an excellent treatment to improve all over sun damage, skin texture, fine lines, and sun spots. The topical chemical solution is applied to the areas of your skin which need treatment, and cause 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 sun spots.
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 sun spots. 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 & sun spots
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 sun spots, 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 sun spots
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 down time with the Clear + Brilliant laser and the results 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.
Most common FAQ’s on Sun Spots
There are many misconceptions about treating sun spots or age spots and Dr. Green has complied a list of the most common questions and answers for you below.
Treating melasma versus sun spots
Many patients present to Dr. Green with recurring sun spots and discoloration which have been treated with other lasers, such as Picosure, CO2, Erbium, Fraxel, IPL, among other treatments. However, upon close inspection, these patients have underlying melasma and the laser treatments have made their condition worse. Laser treatment is not the best treatment for melasma. It may temporarily improve the condition with dark spots becoming lighter. However, after repeated sun exposure, these sun spots and melasma become much more difficult to treat, as the pigmentation becomes deeper and more entrenched in the skin.
For this important reason, Dr. Green recommends chemical peels, topical skin lightening treatments, Mesopeels, and Cosmelan peels for melasma and not laser treatment. Dr. Green treats many patients who suffer from post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) or worsening on their dark spots after laser treatment. Cosmelan is one of the best treatments to remove melasma, and discoloration from laser treatments and PIH. Although melasma, like sun spots, is caused by exposure to UV rays, the hormonal association is what sets it apart. Pregnancy, hormonal replacement, and birth control pills, can worsen melasma. Women and patients with darker skin types are more prone to developing melasma and there is a genetic component as well. The differentiation between sun spots and melasma is a very critical one, as they require completely different treatments.
Do sun spots go away on their own?
Sunspots and freckles may fade over time, as long as there is no new sun exposure. However, sun spots are a symptom of sun damage, and never go away completely on their own. With the advent of laser treatments and chemical peels, sun spots can be safely and effectively removed with little or no down time.
What is the difference between sun spots and skin cancer?
Sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate between a sun spot and skin cancer. Many common skin cancers, such as actinic keratoses, basal cell carcinomas, and malignant melanomas, can look like sun spots. Skin cancer can present as a harmless looking spot on the face or body. However, a board certified dermatologist, like Dr. Michele Green, can appreciate the difference between a benign and a malignant lesion. Most melanomas are darker in color and have irregular borders, while sun spots and solar lentigines are typically smaller and more uniform in color.
Skin cancer is on the rise today in the United States, and it is more important than ever to identify and treat these lesions early. The “ABCDE” of melanoma is not always one hundred percent accurate. Dr. Green has removed many small melanomas which were clinically under four millimeters in size. Careful examination of a dark lesion and biopsy may be indicated to be certain of the correct diagnosis and treatment. The current statistics by the Skin Cancer Foundation, is that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. Dr. Green is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology and recommends yearly skin cancer examinations to diagnose, treat, and prevent skin cancer.
Can sunspots turn into skin cancer?
No, sunspots or age spots are completely benign and do not turn into skin cancer. However, due to repeated sun exposure, patients with an increased number of sun spots are more predisposed to developing skin cancer. Sun spots are a warning that you have had too much sun exposure which has caused damage to your skin.
Are sun spots on your skin dangerous?
Sun spots on your skin are not dangerous. Sun spots are an indication that you have received a lot of sun exposure during the course of your lifetime. Sun spots are benign lesions. However, the fact that you have received so much sun exposure, makes you at an increased risk for skin cancer during your lifetime. Dr. Green recommends annual skin cancer exams to ensure that you don’t have any skin cancers which need immediate diagnosis and treatment.
How to avoid sun spots on your face?
The best way to avoid sun spots is proper sun protection and avoiding unnecessary UV rays. Patients need to use sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Dr. Green often suggests combing two different types of sunscreens, especially if there is a propensity for sun spots or melamsa. By combining a chemical sunblock with a physical sunblock, and applying it at regular intervals to sun exposed areas of your skin, you will avoid developing sun spots and sun related skin cancers. The AAD (American Academy of Dermatology) has a great deal of information on their web site on the dangers of tanning, tanning beds, proper skin care, and sun protection, and skin cancer prevention.
The key points to prevent 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 rimmed hats, long sleeved shirts, and sunglasses.
- Avoid the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when it is strongest.
What is the cost of age spots and sunspot removal in New York City?
The price of sun spot removal depends on the laser or modality utilized and the extent of the sun spots and sun damage. The cost varies for each person depending on the extent of treatment necessary.
At-home treatment for sunspots
There are several at home treatments for removing sun spots which include:
- Aloe vera to lighten hyperpigmentation.
- Apple cider vinegar to lighten sun spots when applied consistently.
- Green tea has a skin lightening effect when applied topically.
- Vitamin C serum like Dr. Green’s popular Vita-C-serum, has powerful antioxidant properties, to lighten sun spots and repair the effects of damaging UV rays.
- Retinol creams and glycolic lotions help to exfoliate the skin, fade sun spots, and exfoliate the skin.
- Skin lightening creams which contain hydroquinones, kojic acid, arbutine, phytic acid, and azelaic acid, which all lighten the skin and act to diminish the appearance of sun spots and discoloration.
Am I a good candidate for sun spot removal?
A formal consultation with Dr. Green is needed to see which cosmetic treatment is best to remove your sun spots. Patients with light skin complexion may be candidates for Fraxel or chemical peels. Dr. Green treats sun spots in many Asian patients with the Alex-Trivantage laser, since it has a special wavelength designed to treat Asian skin. Darker skin types are usually best treated with chemical peels, Clear + Brilliant, chemical peels or Cosmelan. If you are suffering from melasma, Dr. Green will evaluate you to see if lasers, skin lightening creams, chemical peels, or Cosmelan, may be the best treatment for you.
Dr. Michele Green treats both male and female patients for sun spot removal in her discrete NYC office and many international patients fly in to consult with her. Sun spots 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.