“How do I get rid of age spots?” is one of the most common questions people ask regarding their skin. At the Center for Aesthetic and Laser Medicine in Tyler, Texas, Physician Assistant Tori Burns, MPAS, PA-C offers expert treatments for those patients who want to remove or diminish the visibility of age spots both in Ms. Burn’s office and from the comfort of their own homes. Below, Ms. Burns shares some helpful details about those treatments she most often recommends for her dermatology patients who want to get rid of stubborn age spots.
What are Age Spots?
The technical term for age spots is solar lentigines and they are also referred to commonly as liver spots. Simply put, they are small, dark areas of skin damage or changed pigmentation. They are most common for adults over the age of 50 and typically appear on the face, hands, shoulders, arms, and other areas that are regularly exposed to sunlight.
What Causes Age Spots?
Age spots appear because of an overproduction of melanin that darkens the pigment (coloring) of skin. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from sun exposure increase the production of melanin, and this is the leading cause of age spots. Other causes of age spots include exposure to certain chemicals and pollution as well as hereditary predisposition.
Laser Age Spot Treatments
As a practitioner working in a clinical practice that specializes in laser treatments, Ms. Burns often utilizes lasers in age spot removal. Fraxel is one non-ablative (conservative) laser option that offers increased intensity over other leading options. According to Ms. Burns, “Not only does it help with pigment (age spots), but it treats precancers. We call it wiping the slate clean.” You can expect just a few days of downtime with a little redness and swelling. This is a great fall treatment to erase the sins of summer!
While Fraxel is a great option for more intense treatment needs, the Clear + Brilliant laser resurfacing tool is a great solution for periodic touch-ups or removing smaller age spots or pigmentation areas.
Eskata for Seborrheic Keratoses
Seborrheic keratoses are noncancerous skin growths that typically look like small black or brown bumps on the upper body (face, neck, shoulders, and back). They are often referred to as wisdom spots. According to Ms. Burns, “The wiser you are, the more you have!” These “barnacle-like” growths attach themselves to older adults and need to be removed by a professional. Ms. Burns and her team use the state-of-the-art Eskata treatment which utilizes a soft-tipped applicator that delivers prescription-strength hydrogen peroxide directly onto the seborrheic keratoses. This quickly and painlessly removes the seborrheic keratoses without leaving a scar like cryotherapy can. To fully remove the growth, patients typically need to schedule multiple appointments, but the treatment itself is very conservative and minimally invasive. This ensures a pain-free treatment and quick comfortable recovery afterward.
Combination Laser Therapies
Combination laser therapies utilize a variety of laser types. This may include both ablative and non-ablative lasers. Ablative lasers are more invasive, leading to longer healing times, but they are ideal for larger, deeper age spots and more quickly removing the barnacle-like seborrheic keratoses. Non-ablative lasers are less invasive, but treatments with these lasers may take more time to complete. A combination of therapies may be a better option. In many cases, you can even skip the ablative laser treatments altogether by receiving three Pulsed Light laser treatments over the course of three months. Then, following this therapy up with the Clear + Brilliant skin resurfacing treatment.
Other Age Spot Removal Options
In addition to laser treatments, there are several other dermatologist-performed age spot removal methods, including all of the following:
Cryotherapy is a unique treatment technique. In order to get rid of age spots, cryotherapy actually injures the darker-colored cells through freezing. As the skin cells heal, they typically return to their natural coloring.
This treatment involves smoothing away the age spots. It is usually necessary for patients to undergo between 8 and 10 treatments. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, about 40% of people who receive microdermabrasion experience complete age spot removal.
Chemical peeling uses a specifically targeted chemical application to remove the damaged skin cells that cause age spots. Usually performed in conjunction with cryotherapy or microdermabrasion, chemical peeling can significantly improve the results of these age spot removal methods. Used on its own, chemical peeling is minimally effective, but in conjunction with other procedures, it has proven to be very beneficial to improve the results.
At-Home Treatment Options
Rather than going through a lengthy and potentially cost-prohibitive trial and error process testing out every age spot removal cream at your local pharmacy, start with a consultation with a dermatology expert. There are many products you can buy that claim to remove age spots, but you should take special care to review the ingredients and avoid those that may be harmful. A number of over the counter skin lightening products contain mercury, which is bad for your skin and your overall health. These products should be avoided. When you work with our dermatology experts, they can recommend creams or lotions that will effectively treat your age spots without causing unintended adverse health effects. There are also numerous prescription-strength creams and lotions that may be a better option to meet your unique needs.
Tips for Preventing Age Spots
By far the best option is to prevent age spots from ever forming. If you invest in treatments to remove age spots, taking the necessary steps to prevent additional age spots should be a top priority for you. First and foremost, finding a good, SPF 30 or higher, broad-spectrum sunscreen you can wear every day is essential. Ms. Burns recommends EltaMD’s UV clear sunscreen for daily use. You can find these products in most pharmacies and supermarkets. In addition to daily sunscreen use, you should keep the following in mind to avoid skin damage and age spots:
- Avoid exposure to direct sunlight during peak hours between 10 am and 4 pm
- Wear protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses
- Frequently apply lip balm with SPF
- Take regular breaks from direct sunlight by going inside or seeking out shade periodically
- Reapply sunblock every 30 minutes during direct sun exposure
Working with Your Dermatologist
With offices conveniently located near you, the U.S. Dermatology Partners experts will be happy to help you with all of your skin health needs, including removing age spots. When you’re ready to find out more about your treatment options, we invite you to take just a few moments to complete our simple online request form to schedule a consultation. One of our local team members will be in touch with you shortly to set your appointment day and time and answer your questions.