What are freckles, brown spots or age spots?
Brown spots, also known as “liver spots” are flat, brown-black spots that usually appear on the skin in sun-exposed areas of the body. Despite their nickname, they have nothing to do with the liver or liver function.
Brown spots (or more accurately – age spots) typically develop in people with a light complexion, but they can also be seen in those with darker skin. Age spots can be flat, oval or irregularly shaped and have increased pigmentation and are normally light brown, black or gray in colour
Age spots may range from freckle-size to more than a half inch (1 cm) in diametre. Age spots are sometimes grouped together, making them more prominent.
Here is a short video demonstrating laser removal of freckles or brown spots that occur from sun exposure. They immediately turn white after treatment and then the freckle falls off the skin in about 5 days after the treatment. Usually one treatment is required but each person is unique.
What are the causes of age spots?
The pigment in the upper layer of skin (epidermis) that gives your skin its normal colour is called melanin. UV light accelerates the production of melanin, creating a tan which helps protect deeper layers of skin from UV rays.
Age or brown spots are normally caused by years of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun. The use of commercial tanning lamps and tanning beds can also contribute to the development of brown spots. These will be most noticeable in areas that were heavily exposed like the back of your hands, top of your feet, your face as well as your shoulders and back.
On areas of the skin that have years of frequent and prolonged sun exposure, age spots appear when melanin becomes “clumped” or is produced in particularly high concentrations in one area. In addition to sun exposure, simply becoming older can cause the extra production of melanin.
Your genetic makeup may also play a role in how susceptible you are to the development of brown spots.
It is interesting to note that over time pigmented spots usually decrease in number with advancing age.
When should I see my doctor about my age spots?
You may not appreciate the way in which they look, but brown spots are usually harmless and don’t require medical care. However, your doctor should evaluate spots that are dark or have changed in appearance, because these changes can be signs of melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer.
It is always best to have any new skin changes evaluated by a trained physician, especially if these brown spots or lesions:
- are newly changed or darkly coloured
- are changing in size
- have an irregular border
- have an unusual combination of colours
- are accompanied by itching, redness, tenderness or bleeding
What Are the Treatments for Brown Spots?
There are numerous treatments available for brown spots, take a look at the links below for more information. Dr. Crippen can determine what treatment is right for you.
Make a consultation with a member of our staff today if you would like to discuss your age spots and how we can treat them.
Quick Answers About Brown Spots
Are brown spots treated with lasers?
Yes. Several of the treatments listed in the treatments above are laser treatments, and they will be considered and used if the brown spot we’re treating requires it. Lasers are a flexible treatment option that can manage spots of many different sizes and colors.
How many treatments are necessary to remove a brown spot?
It may take anywhere from one treatment to several to remove most brown spots. The number of treatments may depend on the size, age and color of the spot, as well as the strength of the treatment you’ve decided to pursue.
How long will it take to recover from a brown spot removal?
Our treatments are mostly non-invasive, and we don’t use them at an intensity that would require you to bandage any area. After any of our treatments, you’ll be able to return to your regular work. All that you’re required to do is keep out of direct sunlight and manage minor tenderness and irritability of your skin for anywhere from 3-10 days.