Years of sun overexposure and aging can precipitate the appearance of unsightly facial blemishes. Remedies in the past for treatment were fraught with skin burning and inconsistency. At Cahaba Dermatology, we offer the latest in laser technology to effectively treat and reduce these age-defining blemishes.
By undergoing a short series of quick laser procedures, we can selectively delete these lesions. The treatment is performed in the office and you can expect to immediately return to your social or work schedule. We will recommend that you stay out of the sun, and we may also recommend a topical cream or lotion to optimize your treatment outcome. Your doctor will perform a thorough evaluation.
What Are Brown Spots, Liver Spots or lentigos?
Age spots or Liver spots, also called lentigines or lentigos, are sharply defined, rounded, brown or black, flat patches of skin. The epidermis (top surface layer) is expanding with more pigment, developing what looks like a large freckle. One may appear by itself, or as a few clustered together.
Many people have a hereditary predisposition to them. While liver spots may develop at an early age, even in childhood, they are more common in older people, especially those who have spent too much time in the sun.
Are These Spots Cancerous?
The spots are not cancerous, nor do they lead to cancer. However, on skin exposed to the sun, they may be accompanied by precancerous scaly, red elevations of the skin called actinic keratoses. Dark spots, which might be cancerous, may also appear to be lentigines. All of these blemishes should be evaluated by a dermatologist.
Can Age Spots Be Prevented?
Although nothing can be done about the role heredity plays, excessive exposure to the sun should be avoided – a precaution that will diminish the threat of skin cancer as well as protect your skin from sun-damage. To moderate exposure, the skin should be protected by a sunscreen having minimum SPF of 30.
How Are Liver Spots Treated?
Treatment of liver spots is usually performed by the dermatologic surgeon in the office. Results can be permanent if a sunscreen is used continuously after removal.
Here are some common treatment approaches:
Sunscreens – The simplest treatment to protect the skin from further damage and worsening of the spots is use of a sunscreen. Sunscreen is also important after other treatment methods so the spots will not recur.
Bleaching Creams, Tretinoin and Alpha-Hydroxy Acids– These are topical applications prescribed by the physician to fade small spots. Treatment normally takes anywhere from two months to a year or longer.
Cryosurgery – The dermatologic surgeon freezes the skin tissue with liquid nitrogen to remove liver spots and skin growths.
Peeling – A chemical solution is applied to peel away the blemished skin. The face and hands usually heal in one to two weeks.
Dermabrasion – The skin is sanded lightly with a special instrument to remove the spot. Upon healing, which normally takes a week or so, the liver spot is gone.
Laser Surgery – New techniques with various lasers are used to remove the spots. A beam of laser light is directed at the liver spots to selectively eliminate the damaged skin.