Getting Rid of Liver Spots on the Hands
One sure sign of aging: those pesky brown spots or liver spots that appear on the back of the hand as early as your 30s -- and grow more prominent and darker with age.
"This is just a natural part of the aging process, but it's definitely influenced by the sun -- and the more sun exposure you had when you were young, the more brown spots you're going to see as you age," says Goldberg.
The professional treatment of choice: Lasers designed to rid the skin of excess pigmentation. Goldberg adds that IPL (a pulsed light treatment similar to lasers) also works to remove brown spots.
Although IPL treatments are generally regarded as safe and effective, a small but significant study published in the March 2008 Archives of Dermatology suggests there may be room for caution: Researchers from the University Hospital of Geneva found IPL treatments dramatically increased the level of free radicals in the skin similar to the results of exposure to UVA rays -- the kind of sun damage linked to both premature skin aging as well as skin cancer.
As long as you use sunscreen, the effects of both lasers and light sources are permanent -- on the spots treated. However, "since the induction time for a brown spot is 20 to 50 years, others could appear as time goes on," says Goldberg.
The Risks of Lasers: Although rare, treatments carry a small risk of discomfort, redness, mild swelling, and pigmentation problems. If you are prone to keloid or scar tissue formation, it's even more important to consult a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon before having this treatment.
The Cost of Lasers: About $500 per session, with up to three laser sessions needed for complete fading. IPL treatments are less -- around $300 -- but take up to eight sessions to fade brown spots.