True age spots, or solar lentigines, are caused by ultraviolet damage to the skin. Solar lentigines are flat oval areas of increased pigmentation, usually brown or gray, that occur on skin that has had the most sun exposure over the years, such as the face, chest, shoulders, and backs of the hands. These age spots range from freckle-size to more than a half inch (1 centimeter) across and can group together, making them more prominent. The age of onset is usually 15-20 years after acute sun damage or sooner following tanning bed damage. Solar lentigines are most common in Caucasians but can also be seen in darker skinned individuals.
PhotoGenesis, or IPL, is our treatment of choice if brown spots are the only concern. If there is redness associated with the brown spots, then LimeLight is the ideal treatment option. Both treatment modalities deliver light energy which is selectively absorbed by the pigment. Initially, the brown spots darken, looking like ground pepper flakes; but within 2 weeks the darkened spots fade or flake off. It usually takes several treatments to get to an optimal outcome.
IPL Treatment Experience
Immediately following the IPL treatment, you may notice a slight reddening of the surrounding skin. This typically subsides within a couple of hours.
The brown spots usually start to darken within 24 hours of treatment. They may have a “ground pepper” appearance and will continue to darken until the spots fade or they flake off after 10-14 days.
Q&A On Timeless Laser and Skin Care IPL/Limelight
What does the IPL Photofacial do?
The visible light delivered is selectively absorbed by the pigmented spots and red areas on your skin as well as pigment spots under the skin that are not yet visible. The heating of these target areas causes the therapeutic effect.
What do IPL treatments feel like?
IPL and LimeLight pulses themselves feel like hot rubber band snaps. Given that the best results are obtained if the whole area is treated, not just the visible spots, we offer our patients a prescription for a compounded topical numbing medication to be applied 1 hour before treatments to alleviate the discomfort. We will remove the numbing medication in the office prior to your treatment.
Is there downtime after IPL Photofacial and LimeLight?
Immediately after the procedure, the skin is mildly red, for up to 2-3 hours. Within the first 24 hours post procedure, the brown spots will begin to darken, looking like ground pepper flakes. Within 2 weeks, the darkened spots fade or flake off. Make-up may be worn immediately after treatments, so the redness and spots can usually be covered, and there is no social downtime to this treatment. It usually takes several treatments to get to an optimal outcome.
What areas can be treated with IPL?
Any parts of your body with true age spots, or solar lentigines, or freckles can be treated safely. The face, chest, shoulders, and hands are the most popular areas for IPL and/or LimeLight treatment because they have typically had the most sun exposure. Discrete brown spots with or without diffuse or splotchy redness, as well as skin densely covered with freckles all respond well to treatment.
Will the brown spots reappear over time?
No. New brown spots and diffuse redness may appear with new sun damage, however, they also can be treated. Remember to apply mineral based sunscreen liberally every day, even when not outdoors, to minimize ultraviolet damage the appearance of new damage. Rosacea is chronic and cannot be “cured” with any laser or light source, however, its appearance will be much improved and managed.
Can all of my spots be treated with IPL?
Areas of brown pigment caused by sun exposure can be treated effectively. There are, however, other types of pigmented lesions, such as birthmarks, moles, or lesions with worrisome characteristics, that cannot or should not be treated with light based therapies. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Christian to identify the spots most likely to respond well to IPL Photogenesis or LimeLight.