Age spots, or liver or sun spots, are small, brown flecks on the skin – often on the hands, arms and face. They are caused by both aging and exposing the skin to sunlight. Age spots are harmless and known medically as senile lentigines. There are many different types of treatment methods available today to lessen, prevent or eliminate age spots. Here are some of the most common options:
Laser Treatments – Laser treatments are often considered the most effective treatment to reduce or eliminate age spots, but they can also be the most expensive. There are different kinds of laser treatments. Some work to get rid of age spots from the first layers of skin, while others reduce pigment in sun spots, birthmarks and freckles. Not all types of laser treatments work on all types of dark spots. Some laser procedures may produce bruising that may last about a week.
Microdermabrasion Treatments – Microdermabrasion is a medical procedure that basically takes off the surface layers of skin to remove age spots. Some microdermabrasion techniques use high speed blasts of crystals to remove superficial skin layers, while other machines are gentler. A suction device or vacuum type of tool is used to remove the dead skin cells. The microdermabrasion method is said to encourage the growth of new skin cells.
Bleaching Products – Bleaching products work to fade age spots by breaking down the pigment, or melanin. It usually takes a few months of regularly using the bleaching product to notice a difference in the reduction of spots. Sometimes, these products may leave white areas on the skin.
Bleaching products containing hydroquinone may leave dark spots on darker skin and are recommended for use on very light skin only. Products made with kojic acid, a natural substance found in foods such as mushrooms, are more versatile and may actually prevent age spots by stopping melanin production.
Chemical Peels – Chemical peels remove superficial or shallow layers of skin to get rid of age spots. The amount of skin layers removed depends on how dark the pigment is and light, medium and deep chemical peels are available. Doctors perform chemical peeling procedures and there are also some over-the-counter chemical peels on the market. Alpha hydroxy acid often is only effective to remove age spots on very light skin colors.
Retinin A Treatments – Retinin A, or tretinoin, is usually applied to the age spots daily for six months. Many people notice a difference after a month of regular use. Some Retinin A treatments are combined with bleaching techniques. Retinin A may dry the skin and this may lead to an increased amount of age spots unless moisturizing products and sunscreen are also used. Studies of Retinin A suggest it reverses aging and promotes better-looking skin.
Image courtesy of Oprah.com