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Many individuals are bothered by the appearance of sun spots, age spots, or freckles of the skin. These lesions are all due to cumulative sun exposure and can be treated with prescription creams, chemical peels, photo facials (IPL) or laser procedures. We have found the Candela GentleMax Pro Alexandrite Laser to be an effective treatment for individual brown spots with minimal downtime. Please note that laser treatment of melasma (a.k.a pregnancy mask) is not recommended and can actually worsen the condition. In addition, we cannot treat moles with a laser due to the potential risk for certain moles to become cancerous.
What kinds of spots can be treated?
The typical light-brown spots that can occur from chronic sun exposure-whether you call them liver spots, sun spots, or age spots-typically respond well. Freckles will also improve with a laser. Raised, scaly or crusty brown spots are too thick to respond and typically require liquid nitrogen (freezing) treatment. If you are not sure about the best treatment for you, please schedule a consultation with our clinic for a quick evaluation by Dr. Brown's assistants.
Am I a good candidate for treatment?
Laser treatment of brown spots works by targeting the melanin (brown pigment) in each lesion. Patients with darker skin are not good candidates for this procedure since the natural pigment in the skin could absorb the laser energy and cause blisters and burns. Patients with fair to the medium or olive-complexion skin will respond better to the laser.
How should I prepare for laser treatment?
The most important preparation is avoidance of sun exposure or tanning on the treated areas for 4 weeks prior to treatment. Tanning of the skin stimulates melanin production and could cause blisters. Also, it is important to avoid spray tans or self-tanners for about 2 weeks prior to treatment, as the pigments in these applications can interact with the laser results.
What does the treatment feel like?
Treatment with the GentleMax laser is actually rather comfortable compared to many other lasers. No type of anesthesia is required because this laser features a patented Dynamic Cooling Device which releases a quick burst of liquid cold spray before and after each laser pulse. The spray cools the outer layer of the skin and makes the treatment much more comfortable. Some patients may feel a very mild stinging or popping sensation with each pulse of the laser, but this is very well tolerated.
What should I expect after the laser treatment?
The treated area may feel warm and appear pink like a mild sunburn for the rest of the day. The individual brown spots usually become darker within a day, and they will slowly flake off over the next week or two. Do not scrub or pick at the lesions during the healing process. Make-up or concealer can be applied immediately after and during healing in order to cover up any discolorations. We do not recommend having this procedure performed if you have a special occasion within 2 weeks.
It is extremely important to also avoid tanning and wear good sunscreen in the treated area for 4 weeks after laser treatment. Rarely, the treated skin can appear lighter, darker, or pink for several months after treatment. This typically resolves in time with proper after-care and sun avoidance.
How many treatments will I need?
The short answer is 1-3 treatments. Typically 60-80% of standard sun spots and freckles resolve with one treatment. The response to the laser is variable, depending on the size, depth, and darkness of the lesions, so it is not possible to guarantee specific results. Some lesions may need a second treatment, and a few may even need a third treatment. Deeper lesions may not disappear completely, but will typically be lighter in color.
Are results permanent?
Most lesions will disappear or lighten to the point that they are barely noticeable. However, the laser does not prevent the development of new lesions. It is important to avoid further tanning and wear good daily sunscreen to prevent recurrence as well as the development of new freckles and sunspots.
How much does it cost?
The cost depends on the size of the treated area. As an example, laser of the back of the hands is $200 per treatment. Treatment of the lower arms and hands combined is $400. For specific pricing on other areas, you may schedule a quick complementary consultation with Dr. Brown's assistants, or we can go over pricing at the time of treatment.