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Banish the Brown Spots in Time for the Holidays

Posted on: October 2nd, 2018 by Shany Batbold

Does removing skin discoloration from your face, neck, chest and hands sound appealing? Thankfully, you have a wide variety of effective options. All of the treatment options leave your skin sensitive to UV rays, so less sun and more indoor hours make fall ideal to treat your brown spots. And it doesn’t hurt that your complexion will be more even in time for the winter holidays!

Even if you’re careful, it’s bound to happen: you get caught in the sun without sufficient protection. Depending on your age and predisposition, this could mean brown spots.

What is the best plan of attack? It depends.

Like you, your skin is unique. Your treatment plan should be too. For one, it should be designed by an expert who can identify and accurately assess your hyperpigmentation.

  • Freckles are a hereditary response to ultraviolet light, where skin unevenly produces extra pigment (melanin) as a way to protect its deeper layers. Freckles may fade on their own in adulthood.
  • Age spots usually appear after the age of 35 and tend to persist, multiply and intensify over the years. Also called sun spots, solar lentigines and liver spots (psst… they have nothing to do with your liver!), they are basically large freckles that are harder to remove.
  • Melasma is blotchy hyperpigmentation from sun exposure in combination with hormonal fluctuations caused most commonly by birth control pills, hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) or pregnancy. In some cases, it goes away on its own, but often it’s the brown spot most difficult to lighten.

Your plan also needs to consider factors like pain tolerance, skin shade, downtime, budget and goals.

6 Options for Dreamy Skin

A crucial first step towards smoothing out your complexion is to make an appointment with a skin expert who can customize a treatment plan according to your needs and desires. Pick a provider that offers a full range of options.

In addition to prescription topicals, like hydroquinone or tretinoin, here are six of the top brown-spot treatments, from least to most aggressive:

  1. Aesthetician Services

Aestheticians administer various treatments that reduce hyperpigmentation by removing the outermost layer of skin. For instance, both the DermaSweep dermal infusion facial system and Chemical Peels slough off damaged cells and stimulate the growth of fresh, more evenly colored skin.*

Best for…

  • All skin shades
  • Mild hyperpigmentation
  • Sun damage and fine lines
  • Sensitive skin, pain aversion
  • Gradual, conservative approach over multiple treatments
  • No downtime

The Experience

The DermaSweep and Chemical Peels are both performed during a short visit with an aesthetician. Rarely do patients feel notable discomfort. Multiple sessions are normally required to remove light discolorations.

  1. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

Without harming the top layer of skin (epidermis), IPL sends light down to your second layer of skin (dermis). There, it heats the cells that have become overly pigmented and causes them to die off and go away as your skin naturally sloughs off.

Best for…

  • Lighter skin shades
  • Medium to darker hyperpigmentation
  • Sun damage, redness, broken capillaries, spider veins
  • Gradual improvement over multiple treatments
  • No downtime

The Experience

A medical professional performs IPL photorejuvenation, usually without topical anesthetic. The provider can adjust the intensity level from mild to aggressive, with the sensation commonly associated with a light rubber band snap. Brown spots normally darken, then slough off after 1-2 weeks. In certain cases, IPL can actually make melasma darker — another reason to trust your skin only to a highly skilled pro!*

  1. Clear+Brilliant Laser

Rather than removing skin cells outright, like an ablative laser, Clear+Brilliant technology uses heat to cause targeted cellular microdamage. Your skin’s natural healing processes removes the damaged cells, generating healthy new cells and new collagen. You can effectively lighten brown spots by adding the use of Clear+Brilliant’s Permea handpiece.

Best for…

  • Mild hyperpigmentation, or moderate using the Permea handpiece
  • Minor acne scars, fine lines, shallow wrinkles
  • Gradual improvement over multiple treatments
  • Minimal to no downtime

The Experience

A medical expert will administer Clear+Brilliant, leaving your skin feeling rough to the touch. Over the next days you may see mild irritation, redness and/or peeling cause minimal to no downtime. After about a week, your skin should be looking subtly smoother, softer and more evenly colored. Results continue to add up over the next month. Three to five treatments are recommended for optimal results.*

  1. Q-Switched Nd:YAG

The Q-switched Nd:YAG laser works by using a single wavelength of light (532nm) to heat pigment located in the top layer of skin.

Best for…

  • mild to darker hyperpigmentation
  • freckles and moles including single lesions or small number of lesions
  • Safe for delicate skin
  • Impressive results, especially with single or multiple treatments
  • Minimal to no downtime, depending on device

The Experience

Q-switched Nd:YAG is an advanced laser technology, so  trust only a laser-specialized, board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Your procedure should take about three seconds per lesion with optional topical anesthetic. This treatment can feel like gentle prickling. Afterwards, each treated spot is a white color which fades to a pink color in a matter of minutes.  The next day, the spot will appear a darker brown and the lesion will peel off in 5-10 days depending on the skin location.  There is no post-treatment pain and freckles typically respond to one or two treatments.*

  1. Fraxel Dual Laser

Fraxel Dual works by using heat to penetrate the skin creating thousands of microscopic channels of denatured tissue which stimulates the production of healthy collagen and elastin cells.

Best for…

  • Moderate to darker hyperpigmentation
  • Sun damage, improved skin tone, elasticity and texture, wrinkles around the eyes, scars, actinic keratoses (rough pre-cancerous growths)
  • Delicate skin
  • Impressive results, especially with intense or multiple treatments
  • Minimal to no downtime, depending on device

The Experience

Fraxel penetrates deeply into the skin so make sure to trust only a laser-specialized, board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Your procedure should take about 30 minutes per area with a mild topical anesthetic. This treatment can feel like gentle prickling. Afterwards, you may look sunburned for a couple days and your skin may peel from two to seven days. Most patients see full results after several months. For a more significant impact, opt for multiple sessions with higher intensity.*

  1. CO2 Laser

Make an appointment for CO2 laser when you want serious improvement from one treatment session, even if it means a little downtime. The CO2 laser is uses powerful energy pulses to remove outer layers of skin including most hyperpigmentation.

Best for…

  • Hyperpigmentation from freckling due to sun damage
  • Significant sun damage, acne scars, other deep scars, severe wrinkles, rough skin
  • Patients OK with downtime (6-10 days) and some discomfort
  • Dramatic results with one treatment

The Experience

CO2 is an aggressive, penetrating procedure, so make sure your doctor specializes in laser and is board certified. During treatment, you will be kept comfortable with sedation, topical anesthesia, local anesthetic injections or a nerve block. Your skin may be red and swollen for the next few days, then will start to peel and scab over. Depending on intensity of treatment, you should expect around 1 week of social downtime. Soon after that, however, you should begin to see dramatic improvements in your skin’s appearance that continue to develop over the following months!* 

Fall is the perfect time to consider treatments to remove brown spots from your skin. Schedule your appointment with a highly skilled professional.

*Individual results may vary and are not guaranteed.