No matter how much we take care to reduce the signs of ageing, stubborn brown spots can be a give-away. It's time to regain your youthful glow by removing these unattractive pigment spots and restore the fresh skin you once had.
Some know these by different names - age spots, freckles, lentigines, or liver spots. There are a range of different types of pigmentation which vary in appearance, what depth in the skin they lie, and how responsive they are to treatment.
Traditionally treatments have revolved around fading creams, cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen), chemical peels and cauterising (diathermy). When successful, they commonly leave behind a white patch which may be more obvious than the original problem.
Newer treatments such as high intensity light from lasers and IPL’s are much more successful. The light is able to specifically target the pigment and destroy it. In careful hands, this is done gently, so that not all pigment in the area is affected, and the background colour is preserved.
What does treatment involve?
Treatment is surprisingly quick, with even large numbers of brown spots able to be treated in less than 20 minutes. No preparation is required, but it is important not to have fake tan on. Makeup and sunblock should be removed prior to treatment. The Revlite Nd:YAG laser can effectively remove lentigines and freckles in a single treatment in the majority of cases. IPL can also be used. At Laser Skin Care IPL treatment is preferred if other signs of sun-damage are present such as redness or broken capillaries. The firing of the IPL or laser feels like the flicking of an elastic band, and does not usually require local anaesthetic cream or analgesics beforehand.
What happens afterwards?
Immediately afterwards the area reddens and may burn like sunburn, but this is short-lived. Some swelling of the spots will be seen. If large areas or many spots are being treated, significant swelling can occur after treatment, especially under the eyes. Downtime from work is variable. A few spots will usually not entail downtime. By day two, the pigment starts to darken, and over the next few days crusts over and then literally washes off. This will take 5 - 7 days on the face and 10 - 14 days on the body. Use of a broad-spectrum SPF50 sunscreen is essential to minimise the risk of repigmentation or even hyperpigmentation.
Risks & Side Effects
The most common side effect after swelling is post-treatment pigmentation (post-inflammatory pigmentation) in Asian or darker skin types. In these cases, Fraxel laser provides a good alternative treatment. Recurrence or failure to respond are occasionally seen. Scarring is very uncommon.
How many treatments will be necessary?
Some types of pigmentation will respond better than others. Lentigines and freckles (superficial brown marks caused by age and/or sun) may only need a single treatment.
Other types may require multiple treatments, particularly deeper pigment spots such as seborrhoeic keratoses, café au lait spots, naevus of Ota and post-inflammatory pigmentation. Some (for example, hormonal pigmentation) can be quite resistant.
Is Laser better than IPL or the other way around?
The best way of answering this question is by saying "what works best for one person isn't necessarily what works best for the next." It is important to have a variety of options available when treating pigmentation problems.
The Gold Standard treatment option for pigment spots is the Q-switched YAG laser. Laser Skin Care has the latest generation Revlite (Q-switched YAG) laser, providing a range of treatment options for both deep and superficial pigment disorders.
In addition we have the powerful doctors-only Ellipse+ IPL system.
Finally, the Fraxel Restore 1927 erbium laser provides a final option for stubborn pigment conditions.
Another point worth being aware of is that IPL systems come in different "strengths". That means, they vary in how high the energies can be set to. Many of the IPLs in the non medical marketplace are not capable of reaching energies necessary to treat certain conditions adequately. However, they are certainly capable of causing scars and burns in untrained hands.