By: Bonny Osterhage
If you are in your mid-to-late 40s or older, chances are you spent a good part of your teenage years pool or beach-side, working on your tan. Nothing said “healthy” back then like a golden glow. Now we know better, but the damage has been done. As a result, many of us have discolorations on our skin that are referred to as liver spots, sunspots, or age spots. Call them what you want, but you may have to call your aesthetician or dermatologist if you want to get rid of them once and for all!
According to Aesthetic Practitioner Marta Paul, owner of Nova Aesthetics in San Antonio, Texas, sunspots are typically flat, dark spots that commonly appear on the chest, face, hands, shoulders, arms and legs. They are caused by an overactive pigment in the cells due to sun exposure and may range in color from brown to gray or even black. Are they more than just a cosmetically annoying? Possibly.
“These spots can quickly turn into melanoma, which is a serious form of skin cancer,” cautions Paul, adding that while anyone can develop melanoma, people with fair skin that burn easily are at higher risk of these spots turning into something more severe. “If you notice these spots getting darker, increasing in size, developing irregular borders, or bleeding, immediately get them checked by a dermatologist for further testing.”
If your spots are the typical variety, there are some things that you can do to minimize their appearance, and even get rid of them altogether.
- The first (and most common) way is to use a skin lightning cream. These creams use potent ingredients like glycolic acid, retinol, and vitamin C to suppress the overactive pigment in the cells and help fade the spots over time. Available at most drugstores, department stores, and many dermatologists’ offices, there are a wide variety of skin lightning creams on the market and Paul recommends using one regardless of whether or not you are using other treatments to address your spots.
- Although creams are an easy and cost-effective way to treat sunspots, there are faster, more aggressive options out there that offer immediate results. Lasers, chemical peels, and skin resurfacing treatments are all very effective in diminishing these unsightly dark patches, but they come with a higher price tag than creams alone. We’d recommend consulting with your dermatologist or aesthetician to determine which treatment is right for your skin, your budget, and your lifestyle since some may require downtime to allow the skin to heal.
- Finally, the best defense is a good offense and it’s never too late to start caring for your skin to prevent the appearance of future skin spots. Paul recommends avoiding direct sun exposure on a regular basis, and always wearing sunscreen. “Sunscreen should be used daily, regardless of the amount of time you plan to be exposed to the sun,” she advises. “If you have to be in direct sunlight for an extended period of time, you should wear a large brimmed hat and cover up your arms and legs.”
A little prevention and protection can go a long way when it comes to preserving your skin, and may keep you from “spotting” any new problems.
Marta Paul, AP: Marta has been in the field of Medical Aesthetics for over 12 years. She got her start working with a Plastic Surgeon where she was able to expand her knowledge in both surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures. As the founder of Nova Aesthetics, in San Antonio, Tx, her goal was to open a Medical Spa that stayed on top of the latest trends in the cosmetic world. Always taking the time to thoroughly explain the procedures she is performing; Marta’s passion shows in every encounter she has with her each of her patients.