No one likes aging. Some people don’t mind it as much as others do, and some people are happier with their lives overall today than they were 20 or 30 years ago, but no one actually likes to watch their skin wrinkle and sag or feel their energy dwindle. The cosmetic changes that aging brings about are too many to count (as you can see by checking out our website and seeing just how many anti-aging treatments and products we offer), but age spots are often among the most noticeable and well-known ones. Despite the fact that age spots will grace nearly all of our faces and bodies at some point, the general public actually knows very little about these unhappy splotches. After treating the skin for over 40 years, we’ve seen our share of age spots (and just about everything else, too), so to help you learn more, our board-certified dermatologists and physician assistants at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta (or DAA) are here to answer some of the most common questions about age spots.
How do I know if I have an age spot or if it’s something else?
Age spots are small, darkened areas of skin. They can range in size from freckle-sized dots to half-inch patches, and sometimes several of them can clump together to make them look even larger. These spots are just slightly darker than your natural skin, and they’re flat. Age spots most frequently appear in areas of your skin that are exposed to the sun more often, like your face, neck, chest, arms, and hands. Ultimately, if there’s something on your skin and you don’t know what it is (especially if it’s new or changed), it’s important to visit a qualified dermatology professional like our dermatologists and specialized physician assistants at DAA to ensure that it isn’t a risk to your health.
Are age spots just an inevitable part of aging?
Age spots seem inevitable because nearly everyone beyond middle age has at least a few, but they’re actually not necessarily unavoidable. They’re not actually a result of the aging process itself – they’re caused by sun exposure. When your skin is exposed to the sun, your body produces extra pigment (called melanin) to protect you from the sun’s radiation. This is what causes a tan. But over time, when your body produces too much melanin, it can stick around rather than fading when summer ends like a tan does, and this excess melanin causes age spots. The reason they generally appear at the same time as wrinkles and other signs of aging is because they’re the result of all the sun exposure your skin has accumulated over the years since childhood. Fortunately, though, the fact that we know their cause means that you can take steps to prevent them by using sunscreen properly and on a daily basis.
What should I do if I have age spots?
While they do indicate that your skin has sustained sun damage, age spots themselves are not a medical issue that requires treatment. Most of our patients do want to have them removed for cosmetic reasons, though, and we offer a number of treatments for this purpose, including:
- Laser skin resurfacing procedures like those provided with CO2 and erbium lasers
- Fractionated laser skin resurfacing like DOT™ Therapy and Fraxel® (which also provide scar reduction, skin tightening, and other benefits)
- Chemical peels
- Non-ablative laser treatments like PicoSure® facial rejuvenation, Lumecca®, and phototherapy
- Microdermabrasion or the more advanced version called SilkPeel® Dermalinfusion®
Like any other sign of aging, age spots don’t pop up overnight. They develop slowly over a number of years, and this is great news for patients because it means you can use minimally invasive skin care treatments to stay on top of them as they appear. To find out how we can help you treat existing age spots as well as wrinkles, skin laxity, and other signs of aging, schedule a consultation at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta. For more skin care tips, fun facts, and even special offers and savings, follow DAA on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.