What Are Age Spots?
- Many people develop irregular pigment areas or spots on their skin over time. People therefore tend to call all spots “age spots”. However, not all areas of irregular pigment are the same. Brown spots, including moles which are dark spots caused by a proliferation of pigment cells called melanocytes, can appear and become more numerous with time. Age and cumulative exposure to sun can make moles darker and more numerous.
- If a brown or black spot becomes darker, larger, or develops an irregular border over time, that raises concern about possible skin cancer. Any brown spot that is changing must be evaluated by a doctor to insure it is not cancerous.
- When physicians use the term “age spot” they are usually referring to a particular benign kind of skin lesion, technically referred to as Seborrheic Keratoses. These lesions often have a “stuck on” appearance, as though they have been glued onto the skin. These tend to appear as we age and are more numerous after lots of sun exposure. The good news is these are entirely non worrying skin lesions, but the bad news is they can be quite unsightly.
Treatment of Benign Brown Spots and Moles
Accumulation of brown areas of skin and freckles is common as we age and contributes to a tired and older look to our complexion. Treatments to prevent minimize and eliminate such areas includes sunscreen, laser and light therapies like IPL and Laser Facials, Peels, and good skincare containing bleaching agents like Arbutin, Kojic acid, and hydroquinone as well as retinol or Retin A.
Moles are typically treated with surgical excision. Depending on their location, Mole removal can therefore leave behind scars, which is why it’s important to see a cosmetic specialist with lots of experience in removing these lesions. Dr. Weinberg has tremendous experience in removing moles with the least scarring possible, and he has post removal tips and tricks that will enhance healing for the most pleasing result.
Treatment of Skin Cancers and Pre-Cancerous Lesions
As mentioned, if a mole or dark brown or black spot is changing it must be assessed by a physician. Some forms of skin cancer or pre-cancerous lesions may not be dark in color. Any persistent growing or changing skin lesion should be assessed. Some re-cancerous lesions can be treated with topical prescription medication. Cancers themselves must be removed. Depending on the type of cancer, Dr. Weinberg may use a technique that allows him to determine right at the time of surgery that he has “clean margins”, ie that the whole cancer has been removed. Other very serious kinds of skin cancers must be widely excised, and other therapies such as chemotherapy or immune type therapy may be required.
Treatment of True Age Spots
As stated above, when doctors use the term “Age Spot”, they are usually referring to a benign kind of brown irregular “ stuck on” looking spot, also commonly referred to as a sun spot or liver spot. These spots are very easy to treat with an old remedy that people often overlook- liquid nitrogen!! You may be familiar with liquid nitrogen as the treatment for “ freezing “ warts when you were a kid. Well, it is a quick easy and economical way to obliterate unattractive age spots too. These days a specialized “gun” that shoots liquid nitrogen at high concentration and precision at a spot is utilized to get rid of age spots fast, often in one treatment.