Seeing Spots? Age spots: What they Are and What You Can Do About Them

If you’re over 40 years of age, chances are you have – or will soon have – age spots, those pesky tan, gray or brown spots and patches that typically occur on areas of the body that have been exposed to the sun. Most individuals experience at least a few age spots once they reach middle age, and fortunately, there are treatments that can help fade or eradicate the spots before they become too noticeable.

Also called sun spots or liver spots (although these discolorations have nothing to do with the liver), age spots are harmless, and occur when melanin – skin’s natural pigment – becomes concentrated in a specific area. In addition to sun exposure, the aging process and even genetics can play a role in how many age spots an individual will develop over their lifetime.

Age spots usually can be faded using bleaching creams and vitamin A gels (retinoids) over several months, but individuals looking to get rid of the spots faster have other options. Laser treatments destroy overactive melanocytes (melanin producing cells that cause age spots) beneath the skin’s surface without damaging the skin itself. Usually several treatments are needed to adequately fade the spots. Chemical peels may also be used to remove the upper layers of skin, where age spots occur. Chemical peels use acids to destroy upper layers of skin, and in most cases, multiple peels will be needed to effectively fade the age spots. Dermabrasion is another popular treatment for age spots. Using a wire brush, the upper layers of skin are removed, allowing fresh, clear skin to form in its place.

With so many options to choose from, there’s no reason to suffer with pesky age spots. Talk to your clinician today to determine which treatment option is best for you.

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