By the time you’re 30, you’re likely to have a few sunspots. The fairer your skin and the more time you spend at the beach, the more spots you’ll probably have – and the more noticeable they’ll be. So, should you consider cosmetic treatments?
First up, visit your doctor
Sunspots, which are caused by years of sun exposure, appear as tiny areas of uneven skin tone. They can be darker or lighter than your normal skin, and vary in colour and shape. Generally speaking, they are harmless. But it’s important to see a doctor, because it’s easy to mistake a skin cancer for a sunspot.
What are your options for cosmetic treatments?
There’s a variety of options. These include intense pulsed light (IPL), cryotherapy (better known as dry ice therapy or “freezing”), microdermabrasion and chemical peels. Here’s the low down on what each involves. And, remember, whichever you choose, it’s time to start using sunscreen every day.
Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy
As the name suggests, IPL therapy involves applying an intense, broad spectrum light to your skin, which, through extreme heat, can destroy sunspots. To ensure the treatment’s effectiveness, you must attend at least three or four sessions, spaced about a month apart. After each session, your sunspots will appear much darker and turn into scabs, before coming off.
IPL isn’t cheap, with each session costing anywhere between $100 and $800. For best results, it’s important to invest in high-quality treatment.
Cryotherapy involves the application of liquid nitrogen to an individual sunspot. The nitrogen causes the skin to freeze and, when it thaws, any cells containing abnormal pigment change and die.
Just one session is needed to complete cryotherapy, making it straightforward and inexpensive. However, there is a risk of a permanent, red or white mark being left on your skin. For this reason, cryotherapy should always be conducted by a skilful, experienced professional.
Microdermabrasion is an extreme version of exfoliation. A wand, covered in fine crystals (such as salt or diamonds) is run across your skin, gently removing any cells with extra pigment. This technique can also be used for anti-ageing and for removal of acne.
Two of the benefits of microdermabrasion are that it’s non-invasive and, apart from a few hours of redness, there’s no significant recovery time. You can get it done one day and be ready for wedding entertainment the next.
A chemical peel involves having an acidic solution applied to your skin, causing the top layer to blister and peel off, and revealing a softer, younger layer. Chemical peels vary widely – your skin care professional, nurse or doctor should decide which is right for you, as determined by factors such as the darkness of your sun spots, your skin’s sensitivity and your skin’s texture.
Most patients undergoing chemical peels are given a local anaesthetic and recovery time is usually around two weeks. You can expect 70% of your sunspots to improve after one treatment, but maintenance treatments can be a good idea.
Have you tried any of these cosmetic treatments? Did they work for you? We’d love to hear your stories!