laser-pageLiver spots are a definite way to reveal your age. What are they? How do you get them?  What can you do to remove them?

What are Age Spots?

According to the Mayo Clinic, liver or age spots are dark colored "spots" that usually appear on the hands, chest, face and shoulders.  These discolored spots appear different than moles because they can be different shapes and sizes and are flat.  They also aren't the same as freckles which typically have a small oval appearance, whereas liver spots can be any shape or size.  In fact, some liver spots can be as large as 1/2 inch.  Also, sun spots can appear on anyone whereas freckles don't occur for some people.

Age spots are typically caused from over/prolonged exposure to the sun.  This is why they are most commonly found on parts of the skin that receive a lot of sun.  Melanin is the pigment in the upper layer of the skin that is responsible for the appearance of a bronzed tan.  After years of sun tanning or being outdoors, melanin becomes "clumped" and concentrated.  This results in the appearance of a liver or age spot.  These spots are permanent unless treated/removed.

What can I do about them?

There are numerous home-remedies for age spots that are largely ineffective.  Creams and lotions used to "lighten" the skin must be used consistently for several weeks before any changes are noticed.  Also, these creams are often irritating to individuals with sensitive skin.  This is ironic considering that it is usually people with fair, sensitive skin that develop age spots.  Other remedies include applying various herbs, lemons, oils, and vitamins to the skin for several months as well as microderm abraision and chemical peels.  As with the creams, there is always the risk that these applications can irritate the skin resulting in redness, itching, and swelling.

If you have fair, sensitive skin or spend a lot of time outdoors because of your profession or hobbies, then it is best to take the following precautions to guard yourself against developing age spots.  These include:

  • Avoiding the sun during it's "high times" around 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
    • Try to schedule activities earlier in the morning or later in the evening (it is usually cooler outside during these times anyway).
    • If you work outside, be sure to go indoors or into the shade during your lunch and apply extra sunscreen.
  • Use sunscreen anytime you go outdoors.
    • Carry sunscreen with you or keep a sealable bottle in your car in a shaded place.
    • Choose sunscreen that is "matte" or "bare" if you don't like the "heaviness" or "greasiness" of normal sunscreen.
  • Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and apply it at least 15 minutes before going outside.
    • Apply sunscreen more regularly if you are swimming or sweating (at least every 2 hours).
    • Be sure to rub in sunscreen thoroughly or you might end up with "tiger stripe" sunburns!
  • Where a light but UV protectant layer of clothing on hot days.
    • Find out if your clothing calculates its ultraviolet protection factor (UPF).  
    • You want to have at least 40 to 50  UPFs to provide optimum protection.

Laser Removal

If you already have liver spots and are curious on how to have them removed then your best option is laser removal.   Laser removal is a quick, painless method for permanent removal of age spots.   The number of session and cost of the sessions vary by person so it is best to schedule a consultation with an experienced and certified laser technician.  Laser removal is safe with little to no recovery time.  Minor side effects include some slight and temporary redness.  The main benefit of laser removal is that it is permanent as well as quick.  You don't have to be diligent about apply a cream for months or wind up having the spot reappear because you stopped. 

Liver spots detract from the beauty of your skin and tend to show your age.  Liver spots are most common on individuals in their 50's but can occur on anyone at practically any age.  If you are tired of creams and home remedies and are interested in quick, permanent results, then it would be a good idea to consider laser removal.


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