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Also called “liver spots” and sun spots, age spots are flat, gray, brown or black spots. They vary in size and usually appear on the face, hands, shoulders and arms — areas most exposed to the sun. Age spots are very common in adults older than age 40; they can affect younger people as well.
True age spots are harmless and doesn’t need treatment, but they can look like suspicious growths. Age spots can be lightened with skin-bleaches or removed entirely. Avoiding the sun and using sunscreen can prevent you from developing those unsightly spots.
It may take years of sun exposure for these dark spots to occur — they develop very slowly over time.
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In addition to sun exposure, simply growing older can cause age spots. Family history also plays a part in how likely you are to the develop age spots. If you’re unhappy with the appearance of age spots, treatments are available to lighten or remove them.
Age spot treatments include:
- Medications. Prescription bleaching creams or over-the-counter fade creams may slightly reduce the appearance of the age spots. Sun protection is strongly advised if you use medication treatments.
- Laser therapy. Laser therapy. Laser therapy destroys the dark pigment without damaging the skin’s surface. Treatments with the “yag laser” or Vbeam Perfecta laser with an added chemical called Levulan, typically require several sessions. After treatment, age spots fade gradually over several weeks or months.
- Freezing (cryotherapy). This procedure involves applying liquid nitrogen or another freezing agent to the age spots to destroy the darker pigment. As the area heals, the skin appears lighter. Freezing is typically used on a single or small group of age spots. Though effective, this procedure poses a slight risk of permanent scarring or discoloration.