As we get older, brown blemishes appear on our skin which make it look mottled. These brown spots get referred to as age spots, sun spots, and liver spots. They’re all just different names for pigmentation. So what exactly are they and can you get rid of age spots? It’s a question I get asked a lot in my skin clinic. I’ve written this short article to give you an easy to understand jargon-free guide:
What causes them?
The main cause of age spots is sun damage. Even though it’s believed they come as a result of age, actually it’s as a result of exposure to the sun. The older we are, the more likely it is that we’ve sustained sun damage from years of being subjected to UV rays.
When we are in sunlight we have cells in our skin which are stimulated. They produce more melanin – which makes our skin tan. However if they are over-stimulated they start to get damaged and then they throw out too much melanin. This forms in clumps or brown marks, which stay in the skin and we call age spots or sun spots.
Can you get rid of age spots?
The simple answer is yes you can reduce the appearance of them. Age spots will not fade by themselves. However in many cases you can totally remove them from the surface of the skin with the correct treatment.
The problem is that when the cells are damaged it’s very difficult to repair them. This means that after you remove the spots themselves, the problem is not solved. This means that as soon as you stimulate the melanin producing cells again (with sunlight) more age spots will start to form.
That said it can take years for them to re-appear to the same extent. So when people ask me is it worth it? From the results I’ve seen and the reaction of clients, I would say yes. But you need to weigh up whether the money to get rid of them is worth it to you. More about the price later.
What’s the best treatment to remove age spots?
My preferred treatment to remove age spots is using a laser. There are other treatments such as skin peels, freezing treatments and bleaching creams which are also available. However in my experience Laser and IPL gets the best results if the client is suitable.
The right laser and or IPL system will work extremely well on age spots. In some cases just 1-2 treatments is enough to reduce them by 70-90%. Although I never like to promise, I’ve seen many disappear from the surface of the skin entirely.
If you opt for Laser treatments, they’ll be spaced approximately 3-4 weeks apart, with little discomfort and very few side effects. A laser treatment will take just 5-10 mins for a small area, and cost around £80 to £100. You just need to factor in that you may need 2-3 treatments, so the price for 3 will be £200-£300.
Please be aware that not all brown spots or growths are age spots. Other blemishes include moles, keratoses, hormonal pigmentation, skin tags and skin cancers. If you have a blemish which has started bleeding, or is changing in size and shape I recommend you see a doctor.
I hope you’ve found this guide useful. If you’d like more information on laser treatments for age spots, just click here.
Or feel free to email me with any questions you have at: email@example.com