Brown spots occur commonly on the face and hands. They are unattractive and produce a blotchy complexion.
Although called ‘age spots' or 'liver spots’ they are in fact caused by sun damage. Prior to laser, brown spots were difficult to remove with conventional skin treatments.
The introduction of the Q switched pigment laser and Pulsed Light skin treatments, has enabled these spots to be removed without leaving white spots on the skin. Anywhere from I to 4 treatments may be needed depending on the darkness of the spots.
Laser is a strong light beam which is selectively absorbed by brown or black pigment. The light energy is converted to heat which destroys the pigment.
No. Some lasers destroy skin non selectively and may cause scarring. The best lasers are those which are specifically absorbed by brown/black pigment and are pulsed. Pulsed lasers prevent heat from being transferred to normal tissue. The result is removal of the brown spots, leaving the skin with normal pigment and texture.
Most often, the skin treatments are performed in the surgery as an outpatient. Usually an anesthetic cream is used so the discomfort is fairly minimal. It feels like you are being lucked by a rubber band, and most people tolerate this very well. People with darker skin, who have darker spots, need a high energy laser and may need local anaesthetic injections. Most patients are able to drive in and drive home without any discomfort. These skin treatments take approximately 1 hour. Some deeper brown marks are deeper in the skin. These need a stronger treatment, and may need the use of a dressing after the treatment.
After treatment, the treated area appears darker. This lasts for 5-7 days until the dark area peels off.
Nothing. There are no special precautions. The treated lesions peel off in their own good time. You may wash, shower, apply make up and resume normal activities immediately. In some cases a depigmenting lotion is needed to prevent post treatment darkening of the skin.
This varies, depending on how dark the spots are. Light brown spots usually need only I or 2 treatments. Darker spots may need 3 or 4. It is best to wait at least 4 weeks between treatments as fading may continue for this period.
Complications related to these particular skin treatments are very uncommon but can include: 1. Incomplete removal of brown spots Some spots are relatively resistant. although some improvement is expected. 2. Recurrence of brown spots Brown spots may recur with sun exposure. It is essential to wear sunscreen, preferably forever. 3. Scarring Very rare. 4. Loss of pigment This is rare and usually minimal. 5. Pigmentation As the skin heals, pigmentation may occur, but usually disappears. To help prevent this, people with darker skin should use a bleaching cream. 6. Infection Very rare. If it does occur antibiotics may be needed.
Brown moles that are benign can be improved with lasers. Your doctor must first confirm that the mole is benign before having laser treatment. Laser may make the mole lighter and less raised, but may not always completely disappear. On some cases moles may recur. Some moles may require more than one treatment session.
The laser is a safe instrument if used by operators specifically trained in laser surgery.