NYC specialist discusses the types of discoloration and treatment for brown spots
Brown spots may be an unwanted feature of your face, arms, or other sun-exposed areas of your body. While all spots can make you feel self-conscious, not all discoloration is the same.
You’re fortunate to have many treatment options for brown spots of all kinds in NYC, courtesy of Dr. Ron Shelton.
What type of brown spot do I have?
The outermost layer of skin, or epidermis, gets its color from a pigment known as melanin. If melanin production accelerates in a given area, the pigment clumps together and appears as areas darker than the surrounding skin. The production of melanin is accelerated by exposure to ultraviolet light. Your skin may be exposed to UV light from the sun or from tanning lamps. The deeper Ultraviolet rays of sunlight even passes through windows and stimulates a delayed formation of pigment.
Freckles are about the size of a pinhead. While freckles are not present at birth, these dots are more likely to develop if you have naturally red or blonde hair and a light complexion. Freckles may look red or tan and fade as the sun fades during the winter months.
You may know lentigines as sun spots. They tend to arise in adulthood due to the cumulative effects of UV exposure. Generally, these spots are larger and more defined than freckles. They typically don’t fade in the winter.
While melasma is triggered by sun exposure, genetics possibly and other unknown factors, it is frequently associated with hormonal changes brought on by pregnancy. In fact, there is a term for melasma in pregnant women, chloasma. Birth control pills and hormone therapies can trigger melasma, which may account for men making up just 10 percent of those with melasma. Unlike freckles and lentigines, melasma looks more like brown or gray patches rather than dots and spots.
How can I get a more even complexion?
Dr. Ron Shelton offers proven, medical-grade products and medications; and mechanical and laser resurfacing techniques to remove your freckles, sun spots, and melasma.
Dr. Shelton will evaluate your skin and determine the true nature of your spots. This is a critical step, because a type of skin cancer known as lentigo maligna melanoma can first appear as freckles or sun spots. It can change color, grow larger, or even begin to bleed or itch over time.
While most brown spots are harmless, you still may want them removed for aesthetic reasons. If you truly have freckles and sun spots, Dr. Shelton may recommend topical lightening products and medications. Prior to the advent of lasers, chemical peels and microdermabrasion were occasionally used for the treatment of lentigines.
Different chemicals are used for chemical peels and depending on the patient’s skin type, and type of colored lesion the patient has, Dr. Shelton would pick the most suitable peel. It is applied to the skin in a controlled fashion to exfoliate the outermost layer. As the skin peels, new skin is revealed. Microdermabrasion physically removes the outermost layers of skin rather than using chemicals.
A multitude of lasers, including ruby, neodymium-yag (Nd-Yag), alexandrite, thulium (Fraxel Dual and Permea), erbium ablative, erbium fractional such as Fraxel Restore, and carbon dioxide fractional (Fraxel Repair), Pico and others, may be used to resurface the skin and remove or improve the appearance of freckles, liver spots, and melasma.
As an expert in the use of laser technologies, among Dr. Shelton’s preferred treatments are fractional lasers, which treat a fraction of skin at a time for optimal treatment and results without the risks of complications and unwanted side effects associated with older types of fully ablative lasers.