How to get rid of age spots
Article medically reviewed by Dr. Gavin Chan (MBBS, cosmetic doctor, liposuctionist)
Templestowe Lower, Berwick and Beaumaris Clinics
Dr. Gavin Chan has a background in intensive care, anaesthesia, and emergency medicine. Since 2005, Dr. Chan has provided cosmetic procedures, including anti-wrinkle injections, dermal fillers, liposuction and laser treatments. He is a doctor trainer for various dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections. Read More
Age spots, also known as sun spots or liver spots, primarily manifest on areas frequently exposed to the sun and through natural ageing processes. Often serving as visible reminders of our sun-soaked adventures, sunspots can be visible on the face, hands, shoulders, and arms.
While age spots are completely normal and should be left as is with the natural ageing process, some individuals may want to reduce the apparent visibility of age spots.
What are age spots?
Age spots, or sun spots, are flat brown patches that can appear on the face, forearms, hands, upper back and shoulders. They often vary in size and shape, and emerge due to ageing and environmental factors like ultraviolet (UV rays) from the sun.
While age spots are often harmless, they serve as a reminder of the cumulative damage your skin has endured over a period of time. They are essentially presenting a warning sign that your skin has reached a point where it may need extra care and attention, particularly from further sun exposure.
What do age spots look like?
Often emerging as flat, tan, brown, or black spots, age spots can vary in size and shape from a tiny freckle to a larger dime-sized patch, particularly when clustered together.
In addition, age spots usually have a uniform colour throughout and are painless. Though they do not cause any discomfort or itching, nor do they change the skin’s texture. However, while most age spots are benign, it is crucial to keep an eye out for any irregularities, such as; irregular borders, uneven or multiple colours, size increases rapidly, itching, tenderness or redness. If these signs are present, seek immediate medical attention.
What causes age spots?
During the natural ageing process, your skin’s regenerative abilities gradually decline while simultaneously being in a constant battle with the sun. As a result of these factors, the skin becomes overactive with pigmentation cells, such as increased melanin production in the skin.
The excess melanin production can clump together or be produced in high concentrations, causing the formation of age spots or sun spots. In essence, age spots are the body’s way of signalling that your skin’s regenerative cell production is declining or attempting to create a natural shield against harmful UV rays.
Who is at risk of developing age spots?
While age spots can appear on anyone, specific individuals are more prone to develop them. The following factors may increase the risk of developing age spots:
- Aged over 40 years old
- Having fair skin
- Prolonged sun exposure over the years
- Frequent use of tanning beds
How to remove age spots
Age spots may be resilient, but they are not entirely invincible. They may be treated professionally at a clinic with various methods and upkeep can be done at home with topical creams and diligent sun protection.
The preference of approach could depend on factors such as the size, location, and colour depth of the age spots, as well as your personal preference and comfort level. Furthermore, it is important to note that everyone’s case is unique and has different skin types, leading to treatment results varying for each person.
Skin resurfacing is a term that refers to using either laser or chemical peels to target specific age spots areas on your skin. This aims to reduce the extra pigmentation that is formed in the skin without harming the surrounding tissue, causing the targeted age spots to fade.
For lighter energy lasers or peels, multiple sessions are typically required to achieve desired results.
IPL skin rejuvenation is a non-invasive treatment that reduces and treats unwanted pigmentation. This technique involves directing intense light pulses at the skin to tackle age spots, prompting the selectively targeted melanin in the age spots to break down. As a result, the body’s natural regenerative processes are activated to produce new and healthy skin cells in the treated area.
Furthermore, during the initial treatment, individuals may experience some very mild discomfort similar to small stinging sensations.
Visible results vary from the first few sessions to after multiple sessions depending on the individual’s skin type and the severity of the age spots.
Chemical peels are an exfoliation technique that involves applying a chemical solution to the skin to exfoliate and peel off the skin’s outer layer. This method may prompt the body’s response to accelerating cellular skin turnover to aid in diminishing age spots. Individuals may feel a tingling or slight burning sensation during the procedure. However, this will subside during and after the treatment.
The healing stage can vary from a few days to several weeks, depending on the strength of the peel as well as the individual’s skin type.
How to reduce the risk of age spots
It is important to understand that age spots are largely preventable, particularly ones manifested from constant sun exposure. By embracing certain habits and lifestyle changes, you can significantly minimise the development of age spots.
Here are some solutions you may adopt to help minimise the risk of developing age spots.
Use sunscreen daily
Your first line of defence against age spots should always be sunscreen. When applied daily, sunscreen helps form a protective shield on your skin against damaging UV rays. By blocking UV rays, sunscreen helps prevent excessive melanin production, the main culprit for age spots.
To maximise the benefits, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all exposed skin, even during cloudy or rainy days. Be bold and apply it twice daily, or every 4 hours if you spend the entire day outdoors.
This simple daily habit is an effective way to protect your skin and help maintain an even skin tone.
Avoid prolonged sun exposure
Minimising prolonged sun exposure, particularly between the peak UV intensity hours of 10 am to 4 pm, is vital in preventing age spots. During these hours, the sun’s UV rays are strongest and can actually cause the most damage to your skin.
Limiting outdoor activities during this period or seeking shade when outdoors can help protect your skin. This in turn, reduces the chances of excessive melanin production in your skin, which leads to forming sun spots. So it’s imperative that you are mindful of your sun exposure on a regular basis to reduce the chance of developing unwanted age spots.
Use medical grade skincare
Incorporating medical grade skincare into your routine is a proactive step towards the prevention of age spots. These skincare products contain beneficial ingredients and purposes such as vitamin C, retinol serums, and pigmentation serums that can help target your specific skin concerns.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps combat damages to the skin. Also, it inhibits the enzyme responsible for melanin production.
Retinol serums, on the other hand, can accelerate skin cell turnover, prompting the renewal of old pigmented skin cells. In comparison, pigmentation serums focus on reducing existing melanin clusters.
By developing the habit of using these medical grade skincare products, you’re investing in your skin’s health while also likely to be reducing the likelihood of age spots.
Wear protective clothing and sunglasses
Developing the habit of wearing protective clothing and sunglasses brings you a step further to more effective prevention of age spots. This can involve:
- Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants
- Opting for wide-brimmed hats
- Investing in UV-protective sunglasses
- Wearing enclosed shoes
Wearing protective clothing can create a physical barrier between your skin and the harmful UV rays. Furthermore, sunglasses can protect the sensitive skin around your eyes, an area often neglected but prone to sun damage. Hence, having this proactive approach not only reduces the risk of age spots but also contributes to the overall health of your skin.
Where to treat age spots in Melbourne?
It’s important to opt for an experienced and dedicated team that knows how to prioritise your skin’s overall health and well-being.
At Victorian Cosmetic Institute, our skilled team of practitioners are equipped with well over a decade of experience as well as having access to advanced skin treatment technologies.
We can recommend a suitable treatment that is tailored specifically for you. To learn more about the selection of treatment options available at our clinic, book online, or contact our friendly Customer Care team on 1300 863 824 today.