Treatment Options for Age Spots
Age spots (liver spots or sunspots) are common in adults over 40. These small, darkened areas on the skin are caused by years of exposure to the sun and other forms of ultraviolet radiation. While they are not dangerous and usually do not require treatment, many people choose to seek a solution for age spots because they find them unattractive. There are several different treatment options available for age spots. The right choice for you will depend on the severity and location of your spots. The different treatment options available for dealing with age spots include laser therapy, cryotherapy, topical treatments, and surgical removal, among other methods.
1) Laser Therapy
Laser therapy is often used for age spots because the laser light helps to remove sun-damaged skin cells. This causes the age spots to fade gradually after several treatments, and new, healthier skin cells replace the old ones. Laser therapy may be performed using a carbon dioxide (CO2) or erbium: yttrium-aluminium-garnet (Er: YAG) laser. Each type of laser works by interrupting the pigmentation process, thereby reducing the coloration of the age spots. While both types are generally effective, each has its advantages and disadvantages depending on your needs.
This method is most effective when treating age spots located on the face and neck, where the laser beam can pass through your skin to reach one cell layer below. The CO2 laser is slower and requires more sessions than the Er: YAG lasers. Treatment with an Er: YAG laser may be performed in a single session for areas such as the hands, where the laser beam must pass through several layers of skin to reach the age spots.
Laser therapy is painless and can be done in a physician’s office or an outpatient surgical center. Most people feel only mild discomfort during treatment, which may be intensified by breathing vaporized carbon dioxide. The area will appear red for a short period.
Cryotherapy, also known as cold therapy, is very effective at removing age spots. Age spots are frozen with liquid nitrogen, causing them to turn black and fall off within two weeks of treatment. This method is rapid and highly effective but may cause burning on the surrounding skin for several hours after the age spot has been removed.
Cryotherapy is often used for age spots on the hands, feet, and joints. These areas are hard to reach with a laser. The method is also very effective in these areas because the cryotherapy is applied directly to the age spot, freezing it much faster than in other areas. You may experience some slight bruising and a burning sensation immediately after the treatment.
3) Topical Treatments
Topical treatments are applied directly to dark cars from TCA peel burn to reduce dark pigmentation. The effects are not immediate, but dark spots do fade over time.
Topical treatments for age spots include hydroquinone, tretinoin cream, and glycolic acid. Hydroquinone is effective in lightening dark spots for about half the people who use it. It is usually applied once or twice daily for several months before results are seen. As with all topical treatments, hydroquinone should only be used as directed by your physician. Tretinoin is a vitamin A derivative that has been shown to reduce age spots by slowing down the production of melanin pigment. Glycolic acid exfoliates the outer layer of skin, removing dead cells and allowing new cells to form. This helps to fade dark spots within six months of use.
4) Surgical Removal
Surgical removal is the most effective way of removing age spots. The only downside to this method is that it can be expensive and time-consuming. Age spots are removed through a scalpel, laser beam, or electrical current. This procedure requires anesthesia and may take up to an hour per age spot.
The age spot is removed with a superficial layer of skin during surgical removal. The wound heals in two to three weeks, and you will have minimal scarring. Retin-A, which is used for topical treatments, can be applied after surgery to prevent pigmentation at the site where the age spot was removed.
5) Chemical Peels
Chemical peels remove the top layer of skin, allowing new skin cells to replace old ones. Although chemical peels can be very effective, they have some side effects. You may experience some slight peeling of the skin, as well as redness and scaling.
Chemical peels are not recommended for those with a very dark complexion because they may worsen pigmentation. If you do choose to use chemical peels, you should see your physician regularly while using them to monitor your condition.
Chemical peels are usually applied weekly for two to four weeks. After the age spot is removed, you can use topical treatments on the area to help prevent dark spots from forming again.
6) Dermabrasion and Microdermabrasion
Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion use a handheld instrument to remove the top layer of skin. You will not be able to return to your normal activities for several days after this treatment. It is very time-consuming and laborious.
The age spot is removed with a rotating wire brush or diamond-tipped wand during dermabrasion or microdermabrasion. This method is not recommended for people with darker skin tones because it may cause discoloration.
Dermabrasion differs from microdermabrasion because it is performed with a machine that can be adjusted to meet the needs of each individual. Microdermabrasion only uses a hand-held wand that may not remove age spots as effectively as dermabrasion.
7) Home Treatments
Home treatments are not as effective as the other methods. However, they can be used in conjunction with the more advanced procedures. Using a small cotton swab or pad, you can apply hydroquinone creams or retinoids to dark spots at home. To maintain your complexion, you should use these treatments twice daily.
Age spots can be tough to remove. Many treatments have side effects that may irritate or damage your skin. If you decide to remove age spots, discuss all treatment options with a physician and follow their advice carefully. If possible, try to prevent age spots in the first place by protecting your skin from exposure to direct sunlight.
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