These days we all look a little closer when a spot appears on our face or body. We have our dermatologists mole map us and check each area for slight changes or signs that something may be worth looking at a little closer. Once you have determined that the spot is just that; a spot, the treatment for pigmented lesions (that's the term we use in the cosmetic medical space) has come a long way from the days of Skinglow bleach paste!
At home products can help prelighten before proceeding with light based treatments in the clinic. The reason you'll want to prelighten is that a tiny crust can form in the area of the lesion after a light based therapy is deployed to the skin. If you reduce the depth of colour of the lesions and the quantity of spots, you will have less chance of the crusting appearing. Prelightening treatments contain peptides, hq, acids, retinols and vitamins like c. Typically, they may make your skin peel a little (this is good as reducing the stratum corneaum helps the energy penetrate better when you proceed with in house treatments) and they cause you to be photosensitive. A good sunscreen is a must anyway but especially when the skin is very vulnerable post prelightening.
When your in the clinic, there are many choices we have depending on the degree of your condition and the amount of downtime you are willing to have. Of course the most ablative treatments and most aggressive are best left in the hands of skilled MD and leave the patient with a week or more of recuperation. Your skin will be sensitive, might have areas of oozing, scabbing and in some cases, you may require some pain medication or cooling masks for home use to control the discomfort. These treatments are CO2, erbium, and some very ablative fractional treatments. I use these in extreme cases, if there are also scars in the area and for patients who are already undergoing a surgical process such as a facelift. These ablative procedures usually only require one treatment but can be repeated again after 6 months or a year if needed.
Moving into the treatments that are less aggressive yet still effective depending on the condition are lasers like the IPL, called intense pulsed light and sometimes known as photofacial. These light based treatments target pigment in the skin. You can sometimes have scabbing afterward but generally the anticipated post treatment skin looks red, slightly sunburned in appearance and warm to touch. As the redness is reduced over a few hours, you'll see the gradual clearing occur. However, sometimes the lesions can appear worse after one or two treatments as the light brings the pigment in the dermis up to the surface of the skin making it more visible. You will need a series of IPL treatments (3-6 depending on the machine, energy settings, other treatments you are doing and of course, your condition). Light based therapies are still the most common treatments performed for brown spots today. They are effective but you must complete the series of treatments to reach the desired effect.
Topical masks and chemical peels fall into one category as they all have the same action; apply the solution or mask on the skin and create a controlled damage to the epidermis causing it to peel off or slough off. Depending on the solution or mask applied, the degree of controlled damage can be high or low - high meaning that the skin appears like a sunburn and then peels off in a few days in a very dramatic way or low where the skin is slightly pink and small sloughing begins happening a few days later, continuing for a week or so. Your medical team will determine which is best for your condition but be prepared for a little downtime while your skin is peeling off. Although it's not painful, it can be a little startling to see at the grocery store!
Any of these options are not permanent. You must wear sunscreen and protect your skin.
The bottom line is that you don't have to live with your brown spots anymore. There are solutions that fit any schedule, any condition and certainly any budget. Visit your local cosmetic physician and have a chat about a brighter complexion, the solution is a lot easier than you think.