What causes age spots?

Victorian Dermal Group
Victorian Dermal Group
July 29, 2020
minute read

How age spots form, and how to get rid of them

Have you noticed the formation of small, flat, darkened patches on your skin? These are called age spots, also known as liver spots or sunspots, and they appear on skin which has been exposed to the sun. They're a very common skin pigmentation, particularly in people aged over 50 years old. They don't necessarily need treatment, but many people don't like their appearance.

The good news is, at the Victorian Dermal Group, we can treat age spots with our industry leading laser technology. For an initial consultation, book an appointment today.

What causes age spots?

Your skin contains melanin, which gives you a tan when exposed to UV light. When melanin clusters in the skin, or is produced in high concentrations, an age spot forms. You're more likely to develop age spots if you have fair skin, or have spent a lot of time in the sun. Other lifestyle factors may leave you more susceptible to age spots, such as:

  • Smoking
  • Inadequate diet, exercise, or sleep habits
  • Pollution

How do you tell if it's an age spot and not a mole or freckle?

Age spots are lighter in colour than moles, and larger than freckles in size. Some age spots grow to the size of a small bottle cap, and can be irregularly shaped. They most commonly appear on the parts of your skin which receive the most sun exposure, such as the:

  • Face
  • Back of your hands
  • Shoulders
  • Upper back
  • Forearms
  • Décolletage

Are they dangerous?

If you notice a spot has changed size or colour recently, it's best to get it checked out by either a dermal clinician or your doctor. Your doctor will assess your spots by comparing them to other moles or freckles on your skin.

If in doubt, your doctor may want to perform a biopsy to distinguish the pigmentation from melanomas or other skin cancers. This can generally be done in the doctor's office, using a local anaesthetic.

Age spot removal treatment

More often than not, age spots are harmless. But many people don't like the way they look. Thankfully, there are ways to either reduce the pigmentation in an age spot, or remove age spots completely.

Laser treatments

There are several types of lasers which are effective at removing or reducing the appearance of age spots. These include:

  • Vbeam Prima: Delivers a highly targeted beam of light into the affected area. In between blasts, an in-built Dynamic Cooling Device delivers a blast of cryogen to cool the skin between pulses.
  • Clear + Brilliant: Uses light energy to abrade the top layers of your dermis, revealing the smooth and clear skin beneath.
  • Fraxel Dual laser: Uses two wavelengths, piercing the top layer of skin and stimulating skin cell regeneration and collagen growth.
  • RevLite laser: Featuring four wavelengths, this laser can target a wide range of skin issues. It releases a pulse of light energy into individual skin follicles, shattering the pigment lying in the targeted cells.
  • Candela Gentle Max Pro: This laser uses light and electric pulses to target specific areas on your skin. A Dynamic Cooling Device cools the skin between laser pulses, so the treatment is as pain-free as possible.

Laser treatments are the quickest way to remove age spots, and you'll typically need around three to five sessions to achieve the best results.

woman getting a laser treatment on her face

How to prevent age spots

Once you've removed the age spots with laser therapy, you'll need to take precautions so you're not at risk of developing more. You should:

  • Avoid the sun between 10 am and 2 pm: The sun is at its highest at this point, and the UV rays are most intense.
  • Use sun protection with a high SPF: Always wear sun protection, especially in the six months after receiving your last laser treatment.
  • Wear protective clothing: Cover up your arms and legs, if possible, and wear a broad-brimmed hat.

At home treatments

You can further prevent age spots from occurring by revamping your skin care regime. Products like Biopelle's Tensage Growth Factor will help protect your skin and encourage collagen production, which helps repair your skin quickly. Other products which help prevent sun spots, and help with anti-ageing, include:

  • Dermaceutic Mela Cream: An active serum containing lightening ingredients and retinole which exfoliates the skin.
  • Medik8: Uses clinically-proven ingredients, with no parabens, phthalates, or sulphates.
  • Mesoestetic: Chemical peels which reduce and remove hyperpigmentation like age spots.

How to receive laser treatment

Book an initial consultation at our clinic in Kew. When you arrive, we'll ask you to fill in a questionnaire about your medical history and lifestyle details. Then, you'll meet with one of our accredited dermal clinicians.

You can let us know which areas concern you the most, and where you'd like to receive treatment. We'll then take photos of your skin using our Clinical Imaging System, highlighting the pigmentation.

We'll devise a treatment plan tailored to you and your unique situation. From there, you can book in an appointment for the future, or think about it for a while. Unfortunately, we don't perform treatments on the same day as a consultation.

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