Commonly, at the first sight of a wrinkle, both men and women would run to make an appointment at their nearest salon or spa. With advanced technology, age spots that show up anywhere near the chest, hands, and face, drive a ton of clients every year. And not only is combating age spots increasing, the demographic of clients are getting younger.
The good news is that combating age spots can be fairly easy. With the combination of a professional and a great skin care program, the appearance of age spots can be diminished over time.
Here we’ll discuss what causes age spots and the treatment options available, some which may apply to you.
What exactly are age spots?
Also known as hyperpigmentation, age spots are grey, brown, or black spots that appear all over the skin. And according to several studies, the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology confirmed that these kinds of age spots can make you look up to 20 years older. YIKES!
Age spots normally show up with an obvious dullness to the skin. Which also adds to being perceived to be older.
What causes age spots?
There are a number of things that can cause age spots. They could stem from sun damage, hormonal changes, medicine, acne, etc. To say there is just one reason would be false.
UV ray exposure also contributes to uneven skin tone. Colors in hyper-production of more yellow and gray pigments in the skin. Which makes the skin appear yellow and gray. It also leads to dullness and loss of opacity. And while the sun can be the ring leader for a lot of things like hyperpigmentation and age spots, it’s not the only way or reason you may have them.
Smoking is never recommended for a variety of ugly reasons. Let your skin be one of the top! When you smoke, it generates free radicals which decreases the amount of blood flow to the skin. Without the accurate amount of blood flow, this can increase wrinkling around the eye and mouth areas of the face. Smoking also contributes to an unhealthy looking complexion as well as weakening the blood vessels and immune system.
Lots of changes in estrogen and progesterone levels can cause changes in skin color. As well as trigger a skin condition called melasma and post traumatic hyperpigmentation.
Remedies for Age Spots:
One of the most common ways to address age spots are with chemical peels.
This normally means applying a medical grade acid to the skin which helps remove the outer layers of skin causing the skin to peel. As the skin peels off superficial layers of your skin, a new surface skin becomes visible.
This can not only help age spots but help reinvigorate dull skin. Considering dull skin is the result of a slow cell turnover rate and an accumulation of dead skin cells; chemical peels help move things along by removing the layer of dead skin cells and allowing new bright and more youthful skin to show on the surface.
This alone makes chemical peels the chosen method used to help reduce an older appearance and improve the skin overall.
Chemical peels range in strength. From mild in-salon to light at-home treatments that require zero downtime to very intensive peels that are only performed by a licensed healthcare professional and require several weeks of downtime and recuperation. These are successful but the most important factor to consider when deciding on a chemical peel routine is the health of the skin’s natural protective barrier.
Chemical peels can be aggressive in exfoliation. Therefore, by nature a more intrusive treatment. If a strong chemical peel is performed incorrectly, it can actually cause more damage and can be irreversible.
Type of Chemical Peels
These can only be performed by a licensed healthcare professional. One of the most prevalent facial peels is the Phenol Peel, a carbolic acid. This type of peel was discovered in 1900 in order to help treat acne scarring. Phenol peels have a bleaching effect and are normally recommended for severe signs of photoaging. But is not recommended for darker skin types or freckles.
When it comes to phenol peels, a pain reliever or oral sedative may be given to alleviate any discomfort. Phenol itself is toxic and can be absorbed in a large dose. To counteract this, your healthcare professional will normally administer a heart monitor and an IV will be administered.
Once the skin is cleaned, the chemical is applied which allows it to penetrate through the skin. Once an area is treated, there’s a 15 minute break before the next area is treated to avoid getting too much phenol in the system.
Depending on the procedure and the area of the skin, the treatment can take from 60 to 90 minutes to complete. Because the Phenol peel is more intense, following the treatment, the patient’s face will be uncomfortable, swollen and bandaged. A complete recovery can take anywhere up to a month. The post-treatment consists of a regime that includes soaking the skin four to sex times daily followed by an ointment applications for the first 14 days.
The patient will also be taking an antiviral medication for 10 to 14 days while avoiding all sun exposure for three to six months. As well as frequent follow-up appointments to monitor the progress.
TCA chemical peels are mid-level peels that are done on an outpatient basis. These are best for hyperpigmentation, acne scars, fine lines, sun damage, superficial facial scars, and dark spots.
The peels are applied the same as milder peels with a trichloroacetic acid. Depending on the concentration, light sedation may be used. TCA peels are much more potent. Although they’re applied in the same way, the skin is cleaned and prepped and the chemicals or acid is applied to the problematic areas. Left for a short time and then washed away followed by soothing ointments.
Much like Phenol peels, depending on the size of the area, a medium chemical peel like a TCA peel can take anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes. With a median time of 30 minutes.
After application, a superficial crust starts to form over the treated areas. This happens when TCA coagulates with the protein in the skin and eventually peels away. Recovery time takes approximately two weeks. You’ll notice the skin will be swollen and red, at its worst, the first 48 hours.
In extreme cases, eyelids may swell shut. Once the skin crusts off, it can take up to 14 days to peel. Also like the Phenol peel, the skin must be soaked daily and a prescription ointment applied to help healing. As well as an antiviral medication to be prescribed for 10 to 14 days.
Originally Coombe’s formula, this chemical peel has been used for over 100 years. This formula is made from salicylic acid, resorcinol, and lactic acid. All dissolved in ethanol to reduce the toxic effects of each ingredient.
This peel is considered a superficial peel that is used to treat the appearance of age spots, acne, melasma, photoaging, and freckles. During application, the client may experience tingling or a warm burning sting.
Just like the TCA peel, the skin will crust or “frost” over and progressively peel over time. Over time and healing, the skin will appear tan or brown in color and may seem red in other areas. While peeling, there may be mild swelling, redness, stinging, and crusting. The skin may become slightly dry, right and a little uncomfortable.
Retinoic Acid Peel
This type of peel is also a more intrusive type of chemical peel. It may be performed by a dermatologist, plastic surgeon, or a medical professional in a spa type setting. This peel is deeper and helps to remove scars, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation. Normally treated in combination with the Jessner Peel.
For a Retinoic Acid peel, the client leaves with the chemical peel solution on their face. Much like the other peels, slight irritation, redness, swelling and a decent recovery time is necessary. As well as avoiding sun exposure.
Alpha Hydroxy Acid Chemical Peels:
These peels are derived from foods like sour milk for lactic acid, malic acid from apples, glycolic acid from sugar cane, tartaric acid from grapes, and citric acid from citrus fruits.
Acids like glycolic acid penetrates the surface layers of the skin and loosens the dry thick skin that hinders the skin’s complexion. With these acid solutions available on the at-home market in concentrations of 5% to 10% for skin exfoliation. Solutions of 10% or more needed in high concentrations for skin smoothing, must only be used under medical supervision. These peels help reduce sun damage to the skin and hyperpigmentation.
Beta Hydroxy Acid Chemical Peels:
These peels are less irritating than the previous peels. Normally used in combination with other chemical peel treatments, these use salicylic acid to help reduce age spots and sun damage.
There is even an access of natural chemical peels that can provide the skin with the most gentle exfoliation.
In combination with chemical peels, or a hybrid peel, with a professional and proper home care, you can effectively reduce age spots and other superficial skin irritants that affect your complexion.
Check Out Balshi Dermatology Chemical Peels Bar!
Visit Balshi Dermatology’s Services Menu and Peel bar for all your age spot options and needs. Dr. Balshi is a board-certified dermatologist in Delray Beach who treats various skin conditions. No matter what skin issue you are experiencing, don’t hesitate to make an appointment! No concern is too small. Call us at (561) 272-6000 or send us a message on our Contact Page to set up your appointment.