Freckles are cute. But not so much when those freckles become blotches or beauty marks become aging brown spots. Wearing makeup 24/7 to hide brown spots is both a hassle and impractical in a hot, outdoorsy lifestyle like Miami’s. Lightening creams usually rank somewhere between slow and minimally effective to utterly worthless. And you are left yearning for the smooth, even-toned skin from your baby pictures before time, the sun, injury and/or hormones took their toll.
At your free mia Aesthetics consultation, the doctor will examine the dark spots you wish to eradicate, ensuring the spots do not indicate a more serious skin condition or medical problem. Laser pigmentation removal is a simple, straightforward treatment that doesn’t require a lengthy screening.
Almost everyone in the world has at least one pigmented lesion (also known as sun/liver/age spots). These lesions come about as a result of aging, or sun damage. Other lesions simply appear because the patient has a congenital disposition to develop them. Regardless, these lesions simply mean that the patients have a higher concentration of melanin in that spot. Ideal candidates for laser pigment removal can be virtually anyone of any age with sunspots, freckles, birth marks or age marks they wish to lighten. If a spot is suspicious, however, a doctor should conduct a biopsy. Laser treatment isn’t right for a serious skin condition.
Laser Pigment Removal can be done in 15-45 minutes, depending on the size and number of areas being treated, and works as a nonsurgical alternative to treat highly pigmented sections, most often in the face or hands (arms and necks are also popular). No numbing injections or gels are required. The doctor exposes the blotchy area(s) to high pulses of light, causing the temperature to rise in the problem zone. With enough intensity, the laser can shatter the cells containing the excess of melanin. The body then replaces them with new cells that contain regular amounts of melanin.
The technique has virtually no recovery period. Some patients naturally react with a blush or red response and could look mottled or slightly “sunburned” for a few hours after a treatment. The red response goes away quickly and can be covered with makeup.
Some patients have a lot of brown discoloration, like freckles, near the surface of the skin. It is very easy for the treatment to turn these surface brown spots dark like coffee grounds for a few days to a few weeks. They float to the surface and flake off. Gone. This is more likely to happen on the hands, arms and chest than on the face. All of this can be covered with makeup. Wearing a good sunblock will be essential to protecting the skin from future blotching/freckling. If your skin is already prone to creating brown spots, the laser will not change that. Sun protection will help maintain your smooth, even results.
Which pigmented lesions can be treated with laser?
The most commonly treated conditions are solar lentigines (also known as age spots, liver spots or sun spots), café au lait birthmarks, and freckles. These benign pigmented lesions are caused by excess pigment in the skin, usually from sunlight exposure and congenital factors. Age spots may appear as enlarged light freckles on the face and hands. Café au lait birthmarks may appear as light brown markings anywhere on the body and can be quite large.
Can Laser remove my normal skin pigment also?
No. The laser light selectively targets dark concentrations of melanin.
Are there any Precautions to take during treatment?
As with all laser treatment, you must avoid exposure to direct sunlight before treatment, during treatment and for some weeks following treatment. Our mia Aesthetics doctor will advise you based on your skin type, pigmentation issue, and the nature of the treatments you are receiving. Daily SPF is a must.
What type of post-treatment care is necessary?
You can take a shower the next day, but avoid scrubbing the treated area. Since most common pigmented lesions are caused by exposure to ultraviolet sun rays, it is imperative you always wear sunscreen. Failure to wear a protective sunscreen will allow further sun damage to occur and result in new pigmented lesions. Same goes for spots and freckling caused by Melasma (hyper-pigmentation).
What are the alternatives to the procedure?
Pigmented lesions and age spots are cosmetic problems that do not require treatment for medical reasons. Topical therapies include tretinoin (Retin-A), topical vitamin C or fade creams. Topical therapies are an option, but results are unpredictable and response times can be 6 months or more for improvement. Makeup is also an option. Cryotherapy can improve pigmented lesions, but often leaves white unpigmented areas or small scars.
Are the results permanent?
Most pigmented lesions, if completely removed, will not return. At times, however, sun exposure may cause new café au lait spots to emerge. You will also continue to develop more age spots and freckles with time, and the appearance of these new lesions should not be confused with recurrence.
Are there any side effects to laser pigment removal?
There is a high possibility of hair removal in the treatment area caused by uptake of light by melanin in the hair. Skin becoming darker immediately after treatment is a normal reaction. Crusting of a lesion can be expected, but will clear 1 – 2 weeks after treatment. In rare cases, temporary skin pigment changes may occur, but most patients experience fewer problems than they would after laser treatment.
How many treatments will I need?
The number of treatments depends on the lesion being treated. Solar lentigines require 1 – 3 treatments whereas café au lait spots take up to 12 treatments. The recommended treatment interval is 1 month.