I say freckle and you think cute little kid with a smattering of light brown spots over her nose, right? Heck- I was once that little girl myself. Freckles are adorable, until they become…. age spots. According to the dictionary, both freckles and age spots are “light brown pigmented spots, caused by the sun. But “freckle ” is cute. “Age spot”, aka liver spot…. definitely not so cute.
Any skin pigmentation like a freckle is caused by the sun. The melanocytes in our skin (cells that produce melanin, or pigment) start clumping together, instead of keeping their distance. So how to get back to that creamy smooth skin of youth?
1) SUNSCREEN! The cells that make pigment are stimulated by the sun. If you don’t protect your skin from sun exposure, anything else you try is fighting an uphill battle. See my recommendations for sunscreen here.
2) Topical products. Even with prescription strength products, results take a minimum of 6 weeks.
- Tretinoin causes those melanocytes to become more evenly distributed in your skin. It can be very irritating, however, so I often recommend starting it every other day at first, just at night. You can slowly work up to every day.
- Hydroquinone causes the melanocytes to stop making melanin. It can be used twice a day.
3) Attack the damage directly. A broad-band light treatment (BBL), attacks the pigment directly. Similar to a laser, the BBL uses specially filtered wavelengths of light that are absorbed by the melanin in your skin. The treatment is administered in an office-setting, and is only mildly uncomfortable. Afterward you may feel like you had a mild sunburn for an hour or two. Over the next couple of weeks, the pigment in those sun-damaged areas will turn dark like coffee grounds or pepper, and migrate to the surface of your skin, ultimately flaking off. Two or three treatments are often necessary, but each treatment takes less than an hour. How long the results last depends on how good you are about staying out of the sun, and wearing sunscreen. But most individuals need yearly treatments to maintain results.
Have you had a BBL treatment? What was your experience like?