When you look at your skin, what do you see? Is your complexion even, or are there areas that are darker than others? If you’re like many people, you probably have some areas of skin hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation goes by many names: age spots, melasma or dark spots. Hyperpigmentation can crop up at any age, often adding years to your appearance and affecting your self-confidence.
Fortunately, you can do something about hyperpigmentation–you don’t have to live with it! Learn more about what causes pigmentation problems and what you can do to minimize or avoid them.
What Causes Hyperpigmentation?
Excessive pigmentation in one area of the skin leads to hyperpigmentation. The pigment works its way up to the outer layer of skin, forming spots or patches that are darker in color than the surrounding tissue. Hyperpigmentation comes in a few different forms, which have their own separate causes.
For example, age spots, also sometimes called liver spots, often develop as a result of sun exposure over the years. You’re more likely to see these spots on areas of the body that get the greatest amount of sun exposure, such as the hands and face.
Melasma is another type of hyperpigmentation. It’s often connected to hormones and can be triggered by things such as birth control pills or pregnancy. The condition is sometimes called the “mask of pregnancy” because of its connection to estrogen and female hormones. Although it can occur in men, it’s much more common in women.
In some cases, hyperpigmentation can develop as a result of another skin concern. For example, acne can often leave behind dark spots called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
What You Can Do About Age Spots
If you have noticed age spots or other types of hyperpigmentation on your skin, you can do something about them. Several in-office cosmetic treatments can help reduce the appearance of dark spots on the skin.
One of the most popular options for hyperpigmentation treatment is laser therapy. Laser treatments can break up unwanted pigment and cause the skin to slough it off. How intense the laser treatment is depends on your preference and on the degree of hyperpigmentation you have on the skin. Some lasers are ablative, meaning that they completely remove and destroy the top layer of damaged skin. With an ablative laser treatment, you typically see more dramatic and more noticeable results. The tradeoff is that it takes much longer to recover and heal from the treatment.
Non-ablative lasers leave the top layer of skin intact. They work by stimulating the production of collagen in the dermal layer, so that skin works to repair and heal itself. Intense Pulse Laser and Laser Genesis are examples of non-ablative lasers that can help to minimize dark or age spots.
Other treatment options for age spots include using radiofrequency energy to target the dermal layer of skin and encourage the production of collagen. eMatrix is an example of a radiofrequency treatment that can help to improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Microdermabrasion and chemical peels can also help reduce hyperpigmentation by gently exfoliating the top layer of skin cells.
Can You Prevent Dark Spots?
Treating existing dark spots is one thing, but you might also be wondering if you can do anything to keep new ones from developing. Since sun exposure is one of the leading causes of hyperpigmentation in the skin, one of the best things you can do to keep dark spots at bay is to limit the amount of time you spend in the sun. That means avoiding spending a lot of time outdoors during the late morning and afternoon, when the sun is at its highest and most intense.
It also means getting in the habit (if you’re not already) of wearing sunscreen daily. Applying SPF 30 or greater to exposed areas of the skin every day, and reapplying it as the day goes on, is a must to keep dark spots away. Wearing sunscreen will also protect you from other types of sun damage.
If you are tired of age spots or other forms of hyperpigmentation, your dermatologist can help you choose the treatment option that’s best for you. Dr. Diane Walder is a leading dermatologist in the US. She offers a variety of laser treatments, eMatrix, microdermabrasion and other skin resurfacing options at her practice in Miami. She can help you decide which one is most appropriate for you. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Walder or one of her associates, call 305-866-2177 today.