The number one tell-tale sign of aging is the color, tone and texture of the skin. One of the most common effects of ultraviolet radiation exposure on the skin is the appearance of brown spots within the epidermis.
Many people refer to these brown spots as “liver spots”, although they have nothing to do with the liver. The medical term for a liver spot is “lentigo”. They arise on the skin as a result of ultraviolet light exposure over many months and years. They are more common in fair to medium-toned people and are rare in darker complexions. They are most common on sites that tend to get a lot of sun – the face, scalp, neck, chest, arms and hands.
How are they treated?
There are many options for treating brown spots. These include using light-based devices such as IPL (intense pulsed light) or lasers. Other options include chemical peels and topical bleaching agents.
Some options are meant to treat other cosmetic conditions at the same time (eg red spots, wrinkles, skin cancers, etc). Others are meant to treat just the brown spots. The best option for each person depends on many factors including things such as the skin type/skin texture of the patient, the severity/amount of the brown spots, the timeframe for results, the willingness to put up with “downtime”, cost and the general health of the individual.
How does Lumen Aesthetics address patients with brown spots?
The first step is to recommend a skin cancer screening by a dermatologist or physician extender within our adjacent dermatology clinic. Sometimes early melanomas can mimic the appearance of benign brown spots. If you have had enough sun exposure that your skin has developed brown spots, you are also at risk for skin cancers, including melanoma.
On more than one occasion, we have detected early melanomas in clients that have come in requesting laser treatment for “liver spots”.
Having a qualified expert examine your skin for a cancer screening is highly recommended.
Second, we listen to the concerns of the patient and then provide education on what caused the spots to appear and what options are available to both get rid of them as well as to help prevent them from returning.
Based on that conversation, we then tailor a comprehensive treatment protocol – a plan that addresses removing the brown spots as well as a maintenance program for keeping them away. We use an evidence-based approach based on the dermatology literature that allows us to get results where others may have failed.
The most common techniques we use to remove the brown spots include one or more of the following:
- Performing a superficial laser peel to remove the very top part of the epidermis where the pigment is located. We use the Fotona Dynamis erbium laser for this. The depth and strength of the laser treatment can be adjusted to fit the needs of each patient. Results are immediate.
- Performing a combination intense pulsed light/radiofrequency treatment (TWINLIGHT) with our Syneron Candela Elos plus device. This provides great results with little to no downtime. Three to four sessions may be required.
- Chemical peels (TCA and/or glycolic peels) can often be used to lighten brown spots.
Once the unwanted brown spots are effectively removed, we review the best plan for maintenance and prevention to help keep the results long-lasting.
Typically the recommendations for maintenance will involve a tailored home regimen that we customize for each patient based on their skin color, degree of oiliness, general health, etc. We also will recommend a sunscreen that is appropriate for that individual based on the condition being treated.
To document success, we take baseline photographs of the condition using Fotofinder – a high-resolution professional photography system used for grading skin conditions and monitoring results. This allows for an objective assessment that can be measured.
If it seems like a lot to do, it really isn’t! The steps are really pretty easy and we are here to guide you through it. Once you start seeing the results of the brown spots fading, its fun!
Lumen Aesthetics –We treat skin because we know skin!