Spots be gone!

Posted on October 7th, by staff in Expert Tips, Skincare, Treatments. 9 comments

Spots be gone!

When lines aren’t fine, there’s Botox. But what can you do for the other, more telling, signs of aging: blotchiness?

These days most people seem to be content with fine lines on their face (hey, wrinkles show life!), but it’s the spots left behind from acne and other factors that are most distressing – and aging. In fact, clinical studies have shown that discolouration and texture are actually more subconsciously interpreted as indicators of age than wrinkles.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation marks can look red on fair skin types and more brownish on darker skin tones. Toss in bumpy skin texture, caused by natural aging and perhaps overuse of occlusive skincare products and makeup, and you’ve got the tell-tale signs of skin aging.

So what can you do? While some marks may fade within six months to a year, many times spots can remain permanently on the skin. According to our consulting dermatologist, Dr. Lisa Kellett, there are several ways to treat stubborn spots, and level out textural irregularities at the same time, leaving you with smoother clearer skin.

However, before considering removing the spots, Dr. Kellett stresses that “it is important to have a professional assessment with a dermatologist to rule out skin cancer or other diseases.” Translation: Get your spots checked by a skin doctor.

Types of Spots

According to Dr. Kellett there are many types of brown spots:

  1. Sunspots, which are proof of damage to the skin after a sun exposure.
  2. Age spots, which occur naturally as you get older.
  3. Melasma or “pregnancy mask” are spots caused by hormones, light, and/or heat.
  4. Skin cancer spots.

3 Treatment Options

Dr. Kellett employs the following methods of removal at her downtown Toronto clinic, DLK on Avenue.

1. Zap them off. The Q-Switched Ruby Laser heats and breaks up pigment within the skin. Also used to remove tattoos, Q-switched lasers are considered the gold-standard in-office laser for benign brown spots. How does it feel? With numbing cream, you feel nothing. Without, it’s like a quick series of shots of heat on each spot. Downtime is 2-3 days with minimal crusting and redness. Areas treated will turn white, then darken and scab over, falling off within a week.

2. Pulse them away. For those with reddish spots and lighter brown spots, several sessions of Lumenis One light-based therapy (a.k.a. “IPL” or photo facials) can help not only to fade them, but also minimize the look of large pores. Lumenis One light sessions are great for treating broken capillaries too. How does it feel? Imagine rubber bands snapping against the skin for 10-15 minutes. The effects are cumulative, so you need to be patient to see fading of spots. But expect pore size to look smaller the next day. Downtime? None, so go ahead and book a Lumenis One sesh during your lunch break. However newbie users may experience some mild redness, giving off a look similar to when wearing blush.

3. Peel them off. A derm-supervised depigmentation program is the best method for removing melasma. The Spotless system involves a freshly compounded pharmaceutical-grade facial mask applied in clinic and left on for several hours, depending on the severity of hyperpigmentation, and followed by a strict regime at home. How does it feel? The in-clinic peel feels relaxing since it’s left on for a few hours, you can sleep through it. Downtime? Depending on the severity of the pigment, skin will feel dry and flaky and in some cases slightly red for at least a week. Sheets of pigmented skin will eventually shed off. Get used to constant moisturizing!


Prevent spots with sunscreen worn on top of an antioxidant serum during the day. Before bed, apply a retinoid to stimulate the pigmented skin cells to shed faster.

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