Brown Spots Removal
Let’s be straight up. Freckles after the age of 30 just aren’t cute anymore. And when they keep popping up birthday after birthday, despite best efforts to stay out of the sun, it becomes worrisome.
Scientifically, flat brown spots that appear during adulthood are not even freckles; they can be a number of conditions such as Post Inflammation Hyperpigmentation (PIH), skin-speak for post-pimple marks, or Solar Lentigines which is skin-speak for liver spots. The latter are the result of chronic sun exposure and are usually benign and may fade a little with sun avoidance and age but usually do not disappear completely. Generally if you’ve been neglectful with sun protection in your youth, the brown spots that you see in your thirties and forties are the cumulative sun damage from your earlier years.
That’s what is happening on my face. Melanin mania, I call it. And I’ve been trying to treat it for over a year now with IPL treatments and diligent trail-and-error use of lightening topical products, which I think have their limitations.
Last week I filmed a Q&A video with my derm, Dr. Lisa Kellett, about hyperpigmentation, and what she had to say resonated with my situation. I presented her with three reader questions; one of them was from a woman in Arizona, and she described my own skin battle to a tee:
What can you do when IPL stops working for you?
Dr. Kellett begins by saying that not all brown spots are the same. There are over fifty different types of brown spots and because of this, you should not assume that one type of treatment modality would abolish all brown spots. If you’re concerned with pigmentation, this is an important video to watch. Watch it before reading any further…
When we stopped filming, I told her about the two stubborn brown spots on my right cheek and how IPL had not seemed to break them up for good. I added that sunspots have been popping up on my upper lip as well, and I showed her the darkest spot on the upper corner of my mouth.
Dr. Kellett suggested I try the Q-Switched Ruby Laser, one of the few tools that only she is qualified to use at her clinic.
Her medical aesthetician, Lindsay, who does my laser hair removal, has actually mentioned this option for me recently when I followed up with her after getting an IPL treatment. My feedback after getting an IPL treatment has always been something like, “my pores are tight and my skin tone looks even and feels super smooth, but I don’t really notice my spots getting any lighter.”
“You should ask DLK about her Ruby Laser.” Lindsay suggested, adding that it’s “big guns” of brown spot removal.
Luckily after filming the video, Dr. Kellett had some time to slip me in for a short session with the Ruby Laser. When I saw it, I remembered that it was the same laser that she uses to remove tattoos, as shown in this video. The Ruby laser can also remove brown birth marks.
How the Q-Switched Ruby laser works is that it heats and breaks up pigment within the skin. The treated areas will turn white following treatment. The white lesion will then darken, forming a scab that will fall off in 7-10 days.
I asked if I could get some freezing cream applied (I’m a big wuss when it comes to treating the upper lip area), but she suggested to skip it saying that the laser is very quick and affects only the dermal layer so even with the topical numbing you will still feel something. So it wasn’t worth the extra 20 minutes of wait time needed for the numbing to kick in – and often when you’re getting numbed waiting for a laser procedure, you get increasingly nervous anticipating the sensation and this can make it feel worse than it is. It’s better to get it over with quickly, Dr. Kellett said with her eyes. After getting so many moles removed by her, like this one and this one, I’ve learned to trust her and just shut up when she’s ready to work on me. Dr. Kellett has never steered me wrong.
Now I did flinched when she went over the spot above my lip because it was the first area she did, but after that the three zaps were over before I could break a sweat. Immediately after the treatment, Dr. Kellett applied peteroleum jelly on the treated areas and sent me home with strict instructions to stay out of the sun (wear SPF 30 or higher and a hat).
For the next two days, the spots looked very dark…
I was advised to apply my vitamin C or 1% retinol serum on the spots before bed to encourage healing and brightening. I also used my Kellett Skincare lightening pads, which are saturated with arbutin and kojic acid (purchased at the clinic), over the spots in the morning to optimize my results. This was done with Dr. Kellett’s nod of approval, of course.
By the third day, the spots had scabbed up and two of them fell off while I was showering. It was awesome to see clear skin where the spots had been for so long. This one spot took an extra day to flake off…
By day five, the spots are gone and texture was smoother, less flaky. What remains now are light pink areas that I’m told will fade with time, as long as I remain militant with applying daily sunscreen, vitamin C and retinol.
I’m beyond thrilled with the results and a bit upset at myself for assuming for so long that IPL was the only way to get rid of brown spots. I’m definitely going to ask for “the big guns” next time to break up the blotch of sunspots that have settled on the bridge of my nose. I’m determined to win this skin battle!
Get a thorough diagnoses with a dermatologist before starting sunspot removal treatment.