Minimize Sun Spots On Your Face
Aug 6, 2016 @ 09:00 AM — by Dina Eliopoulos
A leopard can’t change its “spots,” but you can! Minimize sun spots on your face with advanced medspa treatments and products
Between the warm sun on your skin and the cool breeze on your face during the summer months, it can be easy to forget about the sun’s harmful radiation. From full sun beach days to partly cloudy afternoons, your skin is constantly exposed to solar radiation when you’re outside. Unfortunately, it does not take a lot of time for this exposure to cause damage. In fact, for fair skinned people, it can happen in as little as five to ten minutes of exposure. In the short-term, the effects of sun exposure may appear as a sun-kissed glow or an uncomfortable sunburn. However, over time, that exposure can manifest as sun spots on your face, a type of hyperpigmentation that can be difficult to reverse.
While it’s impossible to completely avoid the sun and its harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, it is 100% possible to decrease the chance of sun spots developing on the face and body. Take a look at several of the most effective medspa treatments and products I recommend to minimize sun spots and prevent future dark spots from developing.
Why Do You Develop Sun Spots on the Face?
Sun spots, also known as liver spots, photodamage, age spots, or solar lentigines, are an incredibly common type of hyperpigmentation. In fact, more than 90% of people over the age of 60 will develop sun-related dark spots in their lifetime. Sun spots occur when exposure to UV rays accelerates the body’s melanin production, the pigment produced by melanocytes in our skin that gives color to our skin and is meant to protect the skin from photodamage.
Excess sun exposure—as well as exposure to UV light without proper sun protection—increases melanin production at the cellular level, causing the formation of a flat brown or black spot. Because this process occurs deep beneath the skin surface, it can take years before sun spots on the face become visible. Once combined with years of sun exposure and limited preventive measures, sun spots on the face can grow larger and become darker over time.
Sun spots are not to be confused with other types of hyperpigmentation, such as melasma. Melasma is a condition that causes brown or blue-gray patches or freckle-like spots to appear across the face. Though sun exposure may contribute to visible melasma on the skin, it can also be due to hormonal changes, such as with pregnancy. Because treatment of melasma may be slightly different, it’s important to have a consultation with a professional to learn what’s causing the dark spots on your face.
How to Minimize Sun Spots on Your Face
Sun exposure is an inevitable part of your day, so an effective skincare regimen is necessary to improve the appearance of sun spots on your face and prevent the formation of additional hyperpigmentation. Here are the top medspa treatments and products I recommend to help improve sun damage, even out your skin tone, and minimize ongoing photodamage.
1. IPL Photofacial
An Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) photofacial is a safe, non-invasive way to diminish sun spots on your face without any downtime. The entire photofacial treatment is just 30 minutes, with no need for anesthesia and no prolonged recovery time. During an IPL photofacial treatment, short bursts of high-intensity light called Optimized Light technology deliver a broad spectrum of therapeutic light into the skin to target your troublesome red and brown spots.
The Optimized Light is transformed to heat energy once it touches the skin, which is then absorbed superficially by broken capillaries and dark pigment or absorbed deeply by larger vessels and collagen. Therefore, hyperpigmentation, ruddy red complexion, and rosacea are perfect targets for IPL. At the Center for Plastic Surgery in Chelmsford, our ICON MaxG uses advanced technology to optimize the range of light waves to best target melanin pigment for maximum results on sun spots with the utmost safety. IPL works best through a series of treatments one month apart followed by periodic maintenance treatments every few months to keep that pesky pigment at bay.
2. Chemical Peels
While the name might sound intimidating, chemical peels are one of the most trusted treatments for minimizing the appearance of sun spots on the face. Chemical solutions applied to the skin in a controlled fashion help to exfoliate dead and damaged skin cells on the surface layer of the skin, causing the outermost layer to peel away and reveal smoother, less damaged skin. The type of chemical peel compound applied to your treatment area is customized to your specific needs, skin type, and sensitivities.
- Light Peels: These superficial peels commonly use mild alpha-hydroxy acids such as glycolic or lactic acid, to target only the outermost layers of skin to minimize minor skin issues like mild hyperpigmentation and acne to give your skin a healthier glow with minimal downtime.
- Medium Peels: These peels use a more penetrating acid, such as Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA) to target the deeper layer of skin just below the epidermis called the dermis, but only to the upper part of the dermis. Stronger medium depth peels are useful to treat more noticeable dark spots and uneven skin tone.
- Deep Peels: These peels use a more potent acid, such as phenol or higher concentration of trichloroacetic acid, to fully penetrate to the deeper layers of the dermis. These peels are used to treat more severe hyperpigmentation and photoaging, but also have more significant downtime.
4. Skincare Regimen to Correct, Maintain and Prevent
The skincare products you use can make a major difference in the appearance of sun spots and hyperpigmentation. Your home product regimen can start the process of correction, enhance the results you will get from any of the above in-office treatments and will help maintain these results and prevent further damage. Remember, and the aging process continues, and we are constantly getting sun exposure.
So, it is important not only to correct and maintain but also try to prevent further sun damage and age spots. I myself use a dedicated corrective skincare regimen that includes a combination of products below. Depending on the time of year, I adjust them slightly. And as I have added more birthdays, I have added in more products. Through a consultation, we can create your own individualized skin program to target your specific needs
- Hydroquinone lightening agents. Hydroquinone lightens dark spots by chemically reducing the number of melanocytes, or melanin producers, present in the skin. Controlling melanocytes helps to achieve a more even skin tone and reduce the production of dark spots over time. We do not recommend using hydroquinone year-round and will guide you on its safe use.
- Non-hydroquinone lightening agents. Non-hydroquinone ingredients, such as niacinamide and tranexamic acid, can help reduce the appearance of uneven skin tone with less irritation. I often recommend Brightalive as part of a regimen as it’s a gentle yet advanced skin brightener that reduces the appearance of dark spots and prevents new pigmentation from forming to help achieve more luminous skin.
- Retinols. As a derivative of vitamin A, retinol encourages cell turnover to help you shed old, damaged skin cells and replace them with younger, brighter skin. Over time, retinol can even out pigmentation and promote the look of clearer and more even skin.
- Antioxidants like vitamin C. Vitamin C is a key ingredient in hyperpigmentation skincare to decrease melanin formation and limit the appearance of sun spots on the face. Antioxidants also help protect the skin from further damage to help contribute to a radiant complexion.
- Sunblock. We strongly believe this is a non—negotiable and must for every skincare routine. Proper sun protection is essential to limit sun spots on the face. Research shows that individuals who wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher daily show 24% less skin aging than those who do not use sunscreen daily. If you aren’t in love with your facial sunblock, you have not yet met the right one. I have some favorites!
How You Can Prevent New Dark Spots
The best way to prevent new dark spots is to adhere to a consistent regimen. Aside from medspa treatments to reduce the appearance of sun spots, strive to collect a full Skin Brightening Program, complete with a daily sunscreen, to limit new sun spot production.
At our office in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, we strongly believe that unlike the leopard…we can “change our spots” with a little help from some corrective and preventative treatments and products. Schedule a complimentary consultation today to learn more about our treatments for glowing, vibrant skin.