When Freckles are No Longer Cute: Photo-aging and Laser Options

When you were young you may have devel­oped cute freck­les on your nose and cheeks, but as you have got­ten old­er their cute­ness has fad­ed. Sun expo­sure over the years def­i­nite­ly takes its toll on your skin and those freck­les start look­ing more like age spots or a vari­ety of oth­er skin con­di­tions. Many of these spots may fade a lit­tle by avoid­ing the sun, but usu­al­ly don’t dis­ap­pear on their own.

Did you know that those spots don’t have to be per­ma­nent? Many changes in your skin from sun expo­sure can be treat­ed with var­i­ous laser pro­ce­dures which can bring back the youth­ful­ness of your skin.

Learn more about the var­i­ous skin con­di­tions treat­able with lasers:

  • Freck­les: dis­crete brown spots com­posed of con­cen­trat­ed pig­ment that occurs on the face, neck, shoul­ders, arms, and backs of the hands. Freck­les often dark­en with sun expo­sure in the sum­mer and fade in the win­ter and are gen­er­al­ly seen on those with fair complexions. 
  • Sun spots: dis­crete large brown spots often locat­ed on the backs of the hands and face. Sun spots typ­i­cal­ly appear at a lat­er age, most­ly on those who expe­ri­enced long-term sun exposure.
  • Uneven skin tone/​pigment: sun expo­sure is the main cause of uneven skin tone. Brown spots con­tribut­ing to skin dis­col­oration can often be sub­cat­e­go­rized as either freck­les or sun spots (see above).
  • Melas­ma: dark brown-to-tan patch­es on the face fre­quent­ly affect­ing dark­er-com­plex­ioned indi­vid­u­als. Sun expo­sure is the pri­ma­ry trig­ger for melas­ma. Female hor­mone changes, often dur­ing preg­nan­cy, oral con­tra­cep­tive use, or hor­mone replace­ment ther­a­py at menopause can also trig­ger melasma.
  • Bro­ken blood ves­sels: promi­nent super­fi­cial dilat­ed cap­il­lar­ies found on the cheeks and around the nose as a result of pre­vi­ous sun dam­age. There may also be a hered­i­tary com­po­nent result­ing from a com­mon con­di­tion called rosacea.
  • Dif­fuse back­ground red­ness: chron­ic sun expo­sure may lead to a rud­dy com­plex­ion. In addi­tion, a genet­ic con­di­tion called rosacea may lead to a sim­i­lar appear­ance that is exac­er­bat­ed with exer­cise, spicy foods, hot bev­er­ages, alco­hol and sun exposure.
  • Fine lines and deep­er creas­es (aka wrin­kles): wrin­kles are the result of repet­i­tive con­trac­tion from under­ly­ing facial mus­cles as well as changes in the over­all skin com­po­si­tion due to chron­ic sun (UV) expo­sure. Oth­er fac­tors such as dai­ly oxida­tive dam­age and smok­ing can also con­tribute to the deep­en­ing of facial lines. 
  • Pre­can­cer­ous spots called actinic ker­atoses (AKs): rough, dry pink spots often on the face, scalp and arms are caused by cumu­la­tive years of sun expo­sure. Left untreat­ed, AKs may turn into a type of skin can­cer called squa­mous cell carcinoma.

Dur­ing your ini­tial con­sul­ta­tion, a per­son­al­ized treat­ment plan will be devel­oped based on the needs of your skin. Most skin con­di­tions typ­i­cal­ly require a series of laser treat­ments to achieve the best results. Many patients also com­bine laser tech­niques with Botox or fillers to ful­ly reverse the signs of sun dam­age/pho­to-aging.

In addi­tion, to main­tain the results achieved from the laser pro­ce­dure, a per­son­al­ized at-home skin­care reg­i­men is rec­om­mend­ed and devel­oped with the help of our knowl­edgable estheticians. 

Health Topics:

  • Stephanie Gan, MD, Hinsdale Dermatologist

    I strive to provide the highest quality health care services to all of our patients efficiently, effectively and compassionately. We offer a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, providing patients with unparalleled service. I look forward to meeting with you and helping you take the best possible care of your skin.