If the prime indicator of youth skin is an even skin tone, then age spots and other pigment issues make us appear initially older than wrinkles.
Wait. What?! It’s true. There are studies that conclude an uneven skin tone can add up to twenty years to our actual age! On the flip side, an even skin tone can subtract up to twenty years from our actual age.
What are age spots?
Age spots present as flat, dark, round dots and discs on skin. Age spots are also called liver spots, solar lentigines, sunspots, and they can appear peppered across any part of the body that has sustained unprotected sun exposure over the years. The face, hands, arms, chest, back and legs are the most commonly affected areas.
Most simplistically, age spots manifest on the skin as melanin groups together like little umbrellas to protect skin from sun damage. Picturing our hard working skin trying to protect us is impressive, and a bit guilt inducing, if you spent as much time in the sun as some of us did, working to get the perfect tan.
Regarding tans, there is an excellent article painting a very nice picture of what happens when we tan. In this article, Mayo Clinic dermatologist, Dr. Aleksandar Sekulic states,”The body does not create a tan to be pretty – there is no evolutionary advantage of that. Rather, tanning is a direct response to mutations occurring in our DNA from sun exposure.”
Lesson: Tanning, intentionally or accidentally, damages skin on a cellular level, causing DNA mutations and skin cancers, and it doesn’t stop here. The damage eventually rises to the surface, regardless of our becoming sunscreen fanatics in our later and wiser years. As sun exposure also weakens and withers our connective tissue, saggy, wrinkled, spotted skin is guaranteed to be a part of our future reflection in the mirror.
How can age spots be erased?
Erasing age spots is a process.
Products, procedures and patience are required across the broad spectrum of sun damaged skin and skin types.
Skin oftentimes must first be prepped and primed for lasers and chemical peels. Any heat generated from lasers or any chemical injury to skin causes cutaneous inflammation. Inflammation leads to overproduction of melanin, also known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). Darker skin types (III – VI) and sun damaged skin are most at risk for PIH.
To reduce the risk of PIH, pigment focused skin care products are standard in pre-procedure protocols, and are generally recommended post-procedure to maintain results. These products promote cell turnover, inhibit pigment production, speed wound healing and enhance results.
Required products include:
- Retinoids and Azelaic Acid expeditie healing and anchors other products deeper into skin.
- Pigment suppressants, such as hydroquinone, tranexamic acid, kojic acid, arbutin, niacinamide, licorice root extract, calm and quiet melanin, decreasing chances of PIH.
- Antioxidants are anti-rust agents for skin cells, fighting pollutants, environmental aggressors, UV rays, all of which cause inflammation and weaken skin’s ability to heal and protect itself.
- Sunscreen must be applied 365 days a year, rain or shine.
Products we love for suppressing pigment and maintaining spotless skin:
- Prescription compounded Tretinoin and Hydroquinone (Hydroquinone must NOT be used continuously, year-round. Hydroquinone must be cycled with non-hydroquinone pigment suppressing products)
- Skinbetter Science AlphaRet Overnight Cream and Skinbetter Science Even, Tone Correcting Serum
- Epionce MelanoLyte Tx and MelanoLyte Pigment Perfection Serum
- Skinbetter ALTO Defense Serum
- Epionce Intense Defense Serum
- Vivier C E Peptides
- Sunscreens: ISIDIN, Elta MD, Epionce, Skinbetter Science
- Heliocare: an oral antioxidant containing a fern extract (polypodium leucotomos) that provides protection against sunburn cell formation, oxidative stress, and it even reduces DNA damage from sun exposure.
- Sun protective clothing and swimwear, hats, sunglasses are fabulously stylish these days.
Epionce, Vivier, SkinBetter Science are considered medical grade products and may be purchased at a doctor’s office, medical spa, with a physician’s code or through the products page on our website.
Age Spot Erasing Devices and Treatments
- Excel V
- IPL or AFT
- Laser Genesis
- Secret RF
- SkinPen with Topical Acids or Pigment Suppressants
- Chemical Peels
Treatment and product choices vary from person to person based on general skin quality, degree of damage, ethnicity and skin type.
While not harmful in and of themselves, age spots reflect sun damaged skin. Of course, it also can be difficult to tell age spots from moles or pre-cancers. When in doubt, have a skin check by a dermatologist for skin health and peace of mind.