Debra Price MD PA Board Certified Dermatologist

Medlite Laser : Brown Spots

Sun spots, age spots and "liver" spots are brown spots that can appear on the sun exposed skin of your face, chest, hands, arms and legs. These brown spots can occur at any age and in individuals of all skin types but individuals with light skin are most susceptible. The daily use of a broad spectrum sunscreen can prevent or lessen the likelihood of developing brown spots.

The MedLite laser can safely remove sun spots by selectively targeting brown pigment. The laser delivers light energy in a series of very fast (nanosecond) pulses that shatter the dark pigment in the skin causing it to disperse and eventually clear, leaving a more even toned appearance. Since the energy is quickly absorbed there is minimal risk of damage to the surrounding skin.

What does the skin look like after treatment?

The treated spot will initially turn white and then darker before it sloughs off in one to two weeks. Occasionally the skin can develop a bruise or a purple discoloration surrounding the treated area. Upon healing, the treated site may appear pink before returning to its normal skin tone.

How painful are treatments with the MedLite laser?

Most patients experience only mild stinging during the procedure, similar to the sensation of a rubber band hitting the skin.

How many treatments are required for resolution of brown spots?

The number of laser treatments required for pigment resolution varies. Sometimes a test treatment session is performed one month prior to laser treatment to determine optimal treatment parameters and the likelihood that your spots will resolve with MedLite laser treatments. Most patients require several treatments to each area for resolution of pigmentation. A one month interval between treatments is generally recommended before retreating the same area, however adjacent areas can be treated sooner. While most patients experience improvement in their brown spots with MedLite laser treatments, rarely MedLite laser treatments are unsuccessful at removing or lightening brown spots.

What are the risks of MedLite laser removal of brown spots?

The most common risks of MedLite laser treatment for brown spots are a temporary lightening or darkening of the pigment of the skin. Rarely this pigment change can be permanent. A flare of acne, skin infection, burn or rarely scarring including elevated and keloidal scars are other potential risks of Medlite laser treatment. Patients with a history of abnormal or keloidal scarring, who have taken Accutane in the past year or who are taking medications or have health conditions that may compromise their ability to fight infection may not be candidates for MedLite laser treatment.

What should I do before treatment with the MedLite laser?

It is important to avoid sun exposure and to use a broad spectrum sunscreen for two weeks prior to treatment. You should also inform your physician of any health problems or history of abnormal scarring.

Is there any special care required following treatment?

It is important to avoid sun exposure and to apply a broad spectrum sunscreen to the treated area for a minimum of one month following treatment. If your skin color has not returned to normal within one month you should continue to apply sunscreen daily to the treated area until your skin color has returned to normal. To prevent recurrence of your brown spots, it is important to continue to protect your skin by using a broad spectrum sunscreen daily. If you develop a blister, crust or sore following treatment you should apply Aquaphor healing ointment to the site and contact your physician. You should not apply makeup to open, crusted or sore areas.

Is laser treatment of brown spots covered by insurance?

Laser treatment of brown spots is considered a cosmetic procedure and is not covered by most insurance plans.