One of the unwanted side effects of aging is the formation of age spots. These unevenly darkened spots can pop up on many parts of your body, including your face, arms, hands, shoulders, back and forearms. They are caused by the overproduction of melanin, the substance that gives your skin its color, and may be related to sun exposure. They usually don't appear until after the age of 40 and are more common in individuals with light skin.
Symptoms of Dark Spots & Age Spots
Age spots are flat, darkened areas of skin; usually black, brown, or gray. They tend to cluster on areas of the skin that are regularly exposed to the sun. While some people call them "liver spots," they have no relation to liver function and are not a sign of liver disease. Age spots are generally not a health risk. However, unusually shaped and colored spots on your skin can be a potential sign of skin cancer. Dr. Schwarcz, a board-certified cosmetic surgeon, may biopsy certain lesions or spots to ensure they are not cancerous or dangerous.
Removal Methods of Unwanted Spots
Many patients want age spots removed because they are not aesthetically pleasing or attractive. Since the spots only affect the top layers of the skin, it is possible for a cosmetic plastic surgeon to remove the spots by a variety of means. These non-surgical cosmetic treatments include:
- Cryotherapy, or using liquid nitrogen to freeze the spot and remove it, much like a wart.
- Chemical peels which burn and exfoliate the spotted skin and allow it to be replaced by new skin.
- Laser treatment, Intense Pulsed Light therapy and the ClearLift Laser. While these forms of treatment are less damaging to the skin than the above methods and easier to recover from, they usually require multiple sessions to have full effect. One popular laser system is the ClearLift Laser. Non-ablative laser skin resurfacing with the ClearLift Laser helps to destroy melanin-producing cells in the skin while leaving the surface of the skin unharmed.
Whichever form of treatment you choose for your age spots, it is important to remember that the treated skin will be sensitive for a while, especially to sun exposure. It will need to be protected with high-SPF sunscreen and kept away from direct sunlight by clothes when possible. Contact our New York City or Scarsdale practice today to schedule your consultation and determine the best treatment method for your needs.