Sun exposure over the years can lead to freckles and larger brown spots patches on the skin that give the skin a more aged and damaged appearance. Removal or lightening of these dark splotches can give the skin a brighter more youthful appearance. We use a variety of ways to address brown spots on the skin from skin care and sun protection to chemical peels to a number of different laser treatments.
There are a number of skin care products that can be used to lighten brown spots as well as prevent recurrence of brown spots after treatment with chemical peel or laser. Chemical peels can gently exfoliate surface skin cells reducing the appearance of brown spots as well as fine lines. A laser treatment can be selected to either specifically target brown spots or globally rejuvenate skin which leads to brown spot improvement. Check our more information on Melasma.
The GentleLase laser is used to treat diffuse brown patches or freckles over a large area such as the whole face or neck. When we are targeting more discrete, individual brown spots or just 1 or 2 larger spots, we often will use the Spectra Q-switched laser. Intense pulsed light is most often selected for a full face or neck treatment when there is also redness or veins that we are trying to target. All of these laser can be used in combination with – in the same treatment session – any of the fractional lasers such as Fraxel Re:Store or Fraxel Re:Pair.
Melasma is a special form of hyperpigmentation or darkening of the skin associated with hormones and sun exposure that can be particularly challenging to treat. A new treatment method using the Spectra q-switched laser at low levels in a series of treatments is often selected to treat melasma.
What is GentleLase?
GentleLase is an alexandrite laser that is used for laser assisted hair removal. GentleLase can also be safely and effectively used to lighten and improve brown spots and patches.
What can be treated with GentleLase?
Brown spots and patches such as sun damage and melasma as well as freckles, liver or age spots, moles and even some types of birthmarks may be treated with the GentleLase alexandrite laser. This treatment results in a more gentle and natural lightening of brown spots.
What are other treatment options?
There are other lasers used to treat these brown spots such as Q-switched lasers that are also used for tattoo removal. But these lasers can leave significant crusting and occasional bruising often leaving behind a white spot in place of the brown spot. GentleLase allows for a gentle lightening of your brown spots so that the final result appears more natural and achieves a more even skin tone. Chemical peels and bleaching creams are other treatment options but yield much slower and less efficacious results. IPL and Fraxel are two other treatment options that are commonly used at DCSC for the treatment of brown spots and patches.
What is the treatment like?
During the treatment you will feel a warm to hot stinging sensation. This is alleviated with cooled aloe gel that is applied immediately after the treatment. It is normal for the treated area to feel warm and stingy or sensitive for approximately one hour after the procedure.
What can I expect after my treatment?
The brown spots will darken slightly and, over the next 5 to 7 days, lightly scab and peel. Treatment on areas other than the face may take slightly longer to heal. Makeup can be applied immediately after treatment and during the healing phase. As the treated area heals, do not pick scabs or crusts. As the peeling begins you may soak the area with water (as during facial cleansing) and while the skin is still wet gently, with minimal pressure, rub away the peeling skin. Do not use much pressure or force as aggressive exfoliation of the scabs and flaking skin can result in scarring. Apply plain vaseline ointment or heavy moisturizer to keep scabs moist.
How many treatments are needed?
Often improvement is seen after just one treatment, but more than one treatment may be required to more completely remove brown spots, particularly melasma. Brown spots will likely recur or you will get new ones, thus repeat treatments are required to maintain the results achieved. Repeat treatment may be required as soon as 4 months after your last treatment or just once yearly. A good skin care regimen that includes a broad spectrum sunblock such as zinc (which blocks UVA) and sun avoidance will help keep your skin looking its best.
What kind of results can I expect?
Brown, blotchy spots will be lightened to reveal a more even skin tone. Not every single brown spot will be removed completely, but all will be lighter giving your skin an enhanced appearance. Most patients also notice a slightly improved skin texture. Skin texture improvements are increased with more than one treatment.