Mayo Clinic: How effective is laser resurfacing for removing
sunspots? Are there creams or other products that work to
treat sun-damaged skin?
resurfacing and other forms of laser and light therapy can
effectively reduce or eliminate sunspots. Certain creams also
can be useful. Keep in mind, though, that if you donít
protect your skin from the sun, the spots will almost always
return, or new ones will form.
medical term for a sunspot is lentigo (or lentigines for
multiple sunspots). You also may hear them called age spots or
liver spots. These spots on the skin are flat and round, or
oval in shape. They are uniform in color, ranging from light
brown to black. Because they are a result of sun damage to the
skin, the spots are most common on areas of the body that have
frequent sun exposure, such as the face, shoulders and hands.
therapy, as well as a treatment called intense pulsed light,
can treat pigmented skin lesions, including sunspots. Before
you move forward with any treatment, however, itís important
to be evaluated by a health care provider who is experienced
in diagnosing and treating skin conditions. Your health care
provider can review factors that could affect your treatment,
such as your skin type, medical history, family history and
any medications you take.
she also will perform a thorough physical exam to confirm that
the spots you want treated are sunspots. Thatís a key step
because not all brown spots are lentigines. For example, brown
patches on the face could be another skin disorder called
melasma. Using laser treatment on melasma may worsen that
condition. In some cases, the skin cancer melanoma also can
look similar to sunspots. Identifying and treating melanoma as
quickly as possible is critical to curing it.
therapy is right for you, you may need more than one treatment
to achieve the best outcome. Itís usually done in a health
care providerís office and doesnít require
hospitalization. The length of the procedure and the time it
takes to see results vary, depending on the specific type of
treatment you receive. Potential side effects include redness,
swelling, itching, changes in skin color and scarring. Because
laser and light treatments are considered cosmetic, they
typically are not covered by insurance. After laser treatment,
to protect your skin and keep spots from returning, you need
to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection
factor, or SPF, of 30 or higher. To prevent sunspots, always
use sunscreen, or wear protective clothing when outdoors.
creams can be an alternative to, or used in addition to, laser
or light therapy to fade sunspots. Effective options include
topical retinoids and a bleaching cream called hydroquinone.
These creams are available by prescription from your health
care provider or in lower-potency nonprescription forms in
retail pharmacies and drugstores. There also are many other
topical agents available over the counter, such as
antioxidants that may improve the appearance of sunspots.
consider treatment options for sunspots, review the benefits
and risks with your health care provider. He or she can help
you determine which approach is best for you. Whatever you
decide, to protect your safety, ensure the health care
provider you work with has training and experience with the
therapies youíre considering.