Facial freckles can be a blessing or a curse, depending on who you ask. People who don't have them can now have them tattooed - yes, really! - and many who do have them wish their face was free of discoloration. Perhaps surprisingly, one of the biggest complaints doctors see when it comes to skin discoloration, especially on the face, isn't actually freckles, it's sun spots. Sometimes called liver spots, age spots or dark spots, these are caused by damage done to the skin from exposure to ultraviolet light.
Here are three ways doctors suggest treating them:
Lasers work by focusing a beam of light at problem areas to eliminate pigment in skin. Lasers can also help with spider veins, freckles and other skin discoloration in addition to sun and age spots.
This skin treatment is ideal for revitalizing dull skin and repairing aging and sun-damaged skin, according to Dr. Mayli Davis, M.D., of Advanced Eyelid Surgery Center in Fort Worth, Texas.
"It uses an exfoliation technique together with a vacuum function to remove deal skin and expose a fresh, vibrant layer that was underneath," she said. "It can be done as a fabulous stand-alone treatment, but when done in conjunction with a chemical peel, it can have some amazing results!"
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons says that microdermabrasion is also excellent for treating:
- Enlarged pores
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Acne scars
Chemical peels are used on the face, neck and hands to improve skin's appearance. The process is similar to microdermabrasion: removing the top layer of skin to expose a smoother, fresher layer of new skin. There are three different types, according to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery:
Sometimes referred to as the "lunchtime peel," this is the mildest form of a chemical peel. It only targets the outermost layer of skin.
In this level of a chemical peel, a stronger acid is applied to remove damaged skin cells from the outermost layer of skin in addition to the next layer. This reveals even more improved skin and can help reduce the signs of skin discoloration including freckles, age spots and even precancerous skin growths.
This is the strongest treatment option for a chemical peel. It reaches deeper into more layers of skin for a more dramatic improvement.
"Chemical peels help reveal glowing skin and can even help stimulate the production of collagen, which keeps skin perky and hydrated," said Davis. "They can be done just as a single treatment or can be done in a series of treatments spread over a few weeks for the most dramatic results."
Preventing sun spots is the best way to avoid needing treatment again in the future. The best way to prevent them is to stay out of the sun, but that's just not an option for many people. Using sunscreen and clothing to cover skin when exposed to the sun is the best strategy. Even using an SPF makeup can help tremendously, according to Davis.
"Perfect skin is all about prevention," she said.