Doctors know those dark spots on your face, hands and arms as “solar lentigines.” Family members may call them “liver spots” (they have nothing to do with the liver). You just know them as dark splotches or the freckles that never go away.
Hyperpigmentation is an area darker than the surrounding skin, with types of discoloration including freckles and melasma; however, unlike freckles, solar lentigines are bigger, dark brown or black and show up in people with fair and dark complexions alike. They don’t fade in the winter, and babies don’t have them.
Melasma looks less like a spot and more like a brown patch that develops with the onslaught or hormonal changes during puberty or pregnancy.
Since solar lentigines arise later in life, they are referred to as “age spots.” Years of accumulated sun damage (not the ravages of time) are to blame; up to 90 percent of skin aging is due to sun damage. That’s why your shoulders and face may be spotted while your stomach and other areas may be a blank canvas.
As melanin is the dark pigment on the outer layer of skin (epidermis), tanning buffers deeper layers of skin from the sun’s damaging rays, so a darker-skinned person is naturally better protected than a fairer-skinned friend.
The skin can only protect from so much, for so long. When the damage is too great, it shows up as brown spots, pre-cancers or skin cancers.
True age spots are harmless, but some melanoma skin cancers resemble these marks. If you notice any of the following “ABCDE’s,” contact Dermatology on Bloor to schedule an examination:
- Asymmetrical spots
- Borders which are undefined
- Colors are varied and not uniform
- Diameter grows, may be pencil eraser-sized
- Evolves, with changes like itching, bleeding
If discoloration is annoying but not an alarming, we offer many effective brown spot treatments to fit your skin type and lifestyle.
Peels are one of the easiest and most effective ways to treat brown marks. A customized solution removes the top layers of skin where damage resides.
There are three types of peels:
- Light (superficial) is the gentlest option. It removes only the outermost layer of skin and minor discolorations.
- Medium reaches the middle layer of skin, the dermis, for moderate marks.
- Deep reaches farther into the dermis, and treats spots, lines, wrinkles and scars.
Two broad categories of treatments harness the power of light:
- Ablative removes the skin’s top layers.
- Non-ablative, a newer option, leaves skin intact while stimulating collagen production, which slows as we age.
As its name suggests, our fractional laser jumpstarts skin by targeting a fraction of the problem area, usually 20 to 25 percent. It provides the benefits of invasive ablative approaches with minimal healing time.
Intense Pulsed Light
Using the same principles as lasers, high-intensity pulses of light target brown or red areas. As light is converted to heat, the target is damaged. Results aren’t as dramatic as some procedures that remove skin, but you can make a lunch appointment and return to work without missing a beat.
We put academic qualifications, many years of combined experience, and training in a variety of special interest areas to work for your healthy, radiant skin. Our providers – Drs. Schachter, Hanna, Curtis, Abdulla, Pollack, and Taradash – welcome new patients for treatment at the Dermatology on Bloor practice on Park Road in Toronto. Our team is here to serve your needs
With so many options offered at Dermatology on Bloor, we’ll find the right match for you to eliminate those brown spots. Phone our office in Toronto today, at 416-922-6869.
Real Patients, Real Results!
Dermatology on Bloor has been recognized by Consumer's Choice as a top cosmetic dermatology clinic in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014