Let’s Talk Brown Spots…

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They may be called brown spots, age spots, or liver spots, but one thing is sure:  nobody wants them.  Our demand for brown spot lightening is steadily rising, especially since these discolorations can add many years on to your perceived age.  But, it is important to understand that not all brown spots are the same.

Sun Exposure –   Spots crop up on cheeks, temples and the back of hands when extra melanin (pigment that gives skin color) clumps together.  Ultraviolet light (sun exposure) increases production of melanin.  Sun exposure and tanning beds promote brown spots, but the process can take years.  although heredity has a role, ultraviolet rays are the most common cause.  Most people produce more melanin as they age, so your likelihood of having brown spots increases with age.

You can counteract brown spots with our medically directed Obagi skin care system combined with Retin A and you can expect to start seeing results six weeks after starting the system.  Chemical peels may also be useful but if you want more aggressive treatment, ask about our Fraxel and CO2 lasers.  The number of treatments depends on the darkness of your spots.

Melasma – This condition, which is more common in women, causes brown or grey facial skin discoloration.  Spots can show up individually or cover large areas.  Hormonal changes, certain medications and genetics are contributing factors, and sun exposure tends to make it worse.  Melasma caused by hormonal changes, such as pregnancy, birth control or hormone therapy often resolves itself after pregnancy or when medication is stopped.

We can aggressively treat Melasma with Retin-A (exfoliates so bleaching creams will better penetrate) and hydroquinone, both found in the Obagi Skin Care Line.  Fraxel (fractionated CO2) is also effective in the treatment. Melasma is difficult to treat because it has a memory; the slightest bit of sun will set it off so slather on sunscreen.

Actinic & Seborrheic Keratosis – This condition shows up as facial spots or discoloration.  Actinic keratosis, which appear as rough or scaly patches with a red to brown color, comes from sun exposure and may be a precursor to cancer.  It can be treated effectively when caught early.  Seborrheic keratosis, a common result of aging, produces spots that are harmless, though unattractive, with a brown mole- or wart-like appearance.  Other than heredity, the exact cause of seborrheic keratosis is unknown, but it too may follow sun exposure.  Raised lesions such as moles or keatosis spots are usually removed by excision or laser treatments.

Prevention – The number one weapon in the battle for even-toned and spot free skin is daily sunscreen.  Most brown spots on the face are preventatble.  Sun exposure is the most common culprit in skin discoloration.  Sun damage may not show up until later in life, but too much sun, even as a child, can significantly in crease the chances of developing hyperpigmentation.

The second thing to remember is that when it comes to brown spots, not all treatments are created equal.  Come in today and let Dr. Magassy determine the best treatment options available to you.

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