Age spots or sun spots are also known as liver spots, senile or solar lentigines theyare flat discoloured areas of skin. They differ in size and colour varying from tan or brown to grey or even black. Unlike moles which are raised, age spots do not affect the texture of the skin. Age spots develop over an extended period of time, as a result of chronic UV exposure and are most commonly seen in areas of high sun exposure such as the face, shoulders, arms and back of hands, however can occur in any area that is regularly exposed to UV rays. They are predominantly seen in adults aged 40 and older, however they may also present earlier on fairer skins or with sufficient levels of sun exposure.
Age spots are generally known to be a sign of ageing and therefore are considered unsightly. The removal of age/sun spots is often quite straight forward; depending on their colour. A pigment laser or Q Switched laser technologies are used to target the melanin (brown colour). 1 to 3 treatments is normally recommended.
Immediately following the treatment with the pigment or Q Switch laser the age/sun spot will appear darker in colour and the spot and its perimeter mildly inflamed. Redness and warmth subsides within a few hours of treatment. The colour of the spot will continue to deepen for several days until it flakes off. Crusting of the lesion may occur; this is normal and can be an expected outcome which resolves within 7 – 10 days depending on the depth of treatment. Once the pigment has moved to the skin’s surface and has flaked off, the age/ sun spot may appear lighter in colour or may be completely removed.
Maintenance treatments may be warranted every so often as new ones appear or faint ones darken. Clearance can be maintained by incorporating cosmeceutical products to counteract sun damage as well as the diligent use of sunscreen.