woman's freckled face for IPL treatment
Got spots?

Pigmented Lesions

Freckles & Age Spots

Age spots have little to do with aging. They have a lot to do with the sun.  Age spots are actually sun-induced freckles. They commonly appear on the backs of the hands, but can also be seen on the shoulders and face and pretty much any area that has had significant sun exposure.

Age spots are common in older people, but someone who has had significant sun exposure can get them in their late twenties, thirties and forties.

Even a little bit of sun worshipping can cause age spots later in life. Sunlight contains ultraviolet rays that cause suntans and burns. As time goes by, tanning causes more pigment than normal to be deposited in the skin. This leads eventually to flat, brown skin lesions known as age spots, sun spots or liver spots.

Age spots are harmless. They are benign and do not go on to become any type of skin cancer or premalignant skin lesion. But because some skin cancers such as melanoma can look like age spots, you should ask your doctor to examine your skin during your annual checkup.

Broken Capillaries, Telangiectasias & Cherry Angiomas

A cherry angioma is a noncancerous (benign) skin growth made up of blood vessels.  These can be extremely small and less than 5 millimeters or can grow larger. They are considered to be painless and harmless. They can range in color from red to purple, they are often dome-shaped and may be located on the trunk, limbs, face scalp, neck, but rarely the hands. These skin lesions are extremely common. Sometimes, they may appear as clusters of dilated capillaries on the surface of the skin or they may appear alone.  These skin lesions can appear at any age but more commonly begin in the twenties and thirties.

Telangiectasias and broken capillaries are small, widened blood vessels on the skin. They are usually harmless, but may be associated with several diseases.  Causes may include:

  • Alcohol use
  • Aging
  • Genetics
  • Pregnancy
  • Sun exposure

WHAT CAN BE DONE:

Don’t overexpose yourself. The best way to treat and prevent age spots and even broken capillaries is to cut the time you spend in the sun. Always wear a sunscreen that contains the physical sun blocks zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide in the highest concentration you can find – a combination of at least 8% is recommended.  In addition, try to wear protective clothing and a broad-brimmed hat whenever you’re outdoors.

Topical lightening agents can help decrease the appearance of freckles and sunspots.  Products containing hydroquinone are not recommended.  However, there are several safe products that can help including azaleic acid, kojic acid, topical retinoids and arbutin.  We offer some products that can help.  There are no topical products that can effectively treat broken capillaries or cherry angiomas.

Laser and IPL treatments  The quickest and most effective method to treat sunspots, broken capillaries and cherry angiomas is with lasers and IPL.

These modalities effectively seal off and destroy vascular lesions. Following therapy, cherry angiomas develop into crusts and fall of naturally from their original region of formation while broken capillaries are reabsorbed by the body.  A series of 1 – 3 sessions is recommended for best results.

Lasers and IPL also treat and remove freckles and sunspots using a focused beam of light.  This light is absorbed into the pigment, sparing the surrounding skin, and heats up the pigment containing cells.  This heat disrupts the melanocytes that are producing the irregular pigment and the darker, now damaged cells slough off over a period of 1 – 3 weeks following treatment.   A series of 1 – 6 sessions is recommended for best results along with a home care regimen consisting of a high quality sunblock and lightning agents to maintain your results.

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BEFORE & AFTER

BEFORE

After 4 tx

Photo courtesy of C. Arroyo MD

BEFORE & AFTER

BEFORE

After 1 tx

Photo courtesy of A. Bajoghli, MD

BEFORE & AFTER

BEFORE

After 1 tx

Photo courtesy of M. Sinclair, MD