For many of us, the appearance of brown spots on the skin is synonymous with aging. While it is indeed a possible consequence of the aging process, you should never rule out other causes, including the sun, genetics, pregnancy and certain medications.
Various treatments are available to diminish or even eliminate these pigment spots, also known as “age spots,” “sun spots” and, technically, “hyperpigmentation.” What are the best and most accepted treatments in the fields of cosmetology and dermatology? Keep reading to find out!
The different types of brown spots and their causes
Hyperpigmentation encompasses several different kinds of brown spots caused by a diverse range of factors.
Lentigos (or age spots) are accumulations of melanin, the pigment responsible for the coloration of the skin. They form on the parts of the body—such as the face, hands, shoulders and arms—that receive regular exposure to the sun.
A melasma (or “mask of pregnancy”) is, as the name implies, a possible consequence of pregnancy, although it can also be the result of oral contraceptives, photosensitizing medications, genetic predisposition and, once again, the sun.
Beauty spots (neavus) could turn out to be skin cancer (melanoma). If you are ever unsure, it’s highly recommendable to consult a doctor.
Finally, seborrheic keratosis is a common benign skin condition characterized by the appearance of growths (lesions) on the skin. Generally harmless, these lesions tend to occur on areas of the body with an abundance of sebaceous glands (the glands that secrete oil). These areas include the face, scalp, upper body, arms and legs. Seborrheic keratosis is more common in seniors, but can affect anyone over the age of 30. We don’t fully understand the exact cause; however, it appears to have more to do with familial predisposition than with sun exposure.
Regardless of their causes, brown spots are often a source of worry, concern and self-consciousness. Do you suffer from hyperpigmentation? Below, you’ll find a brief overview of the available treatments. However, you should always remember that there’s no substitute for a frank discussion with a qualified healthcare professional.
How to thwart hyperpigmentation
“Reduce the appearance of brown spots and restore your skin’s natural radiance!” The promises of treatments for brown spots are beguiling.
Let’s start with the most accessible ones, i.e. the creams sold at your local pharmacy. These typically contain ingredients such as hydroquinone, kojic acid, azelaic acid or vitamin C, all of which can help reduce the production of melanin in the skin, thus causing brown spots to fade. There are creams to fit virtually any budget, and the results are more or less convincing. Even though these products are available without a prescription, don’t hesitate to ask the opinion of a specialist.
A glycolic peel, a type of chemical peel using glycolic acid, consists of exfoliating the upper layers of the skin in order to remove deal skin cells, stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, improve the appearance of wrinkles and acne scars and reduce hyperpigmentation.
Facial laser treatments are a recognized method of improving the uniformity of the skin in the areas prone to brown spots. Regardless of the type of laser used, the general principle remains the same: the treatment produces superficial injuries to the skin, forcing it to regenerate.
Microdermabrasion works on the same principle. Using a device with a tip covered in fine diamond crystals, it removes the damaged part of the epidermis, stimulating renewal at the cellular level.
Finally, there’s cryotherapy, which consists of freezing the pigmented skin cells with liquid nitrogen. The treated cells subsequently detach from the surface of the skin so that new cells can form in their place.
Another solution has gained a lot of attention at Dr. Mario F. Bernier’s Aesthetic Surgery and Medicine Clinic: intense pulsed light (IPL) photorejuvenation. The IPL device emits pulses of light that selectively target the cells responsible for skin pigmentation. These cells absorb the energy produced by the laser. The energy then transforms into heat, destroying the brown spots. A single session can produce results that are more than satisfactory, and there’s no downtime, as the only side effect (some redness) disappears after 48 hours.
Are you interested in learning more about treatments for hyperpigmentation, including how much they cost?
Contact Dr. Mario F. Bernier’s Aesthetic Surgery and Medicine Clinic. The attentive team would be happy to give you all the information you need, as well as incomparable service.