We all love celebrating birthdays. But as we get older, we can sometimes find ourselves wishing them away instead of wishing on candles. Yes, with birthdays come many of the downsides of aging. But we also are grateful for each trip around the sun, even if it gives us more sunspots.
Aging can mean discolored skin patches, like the common hyperpigmentation (meaning more pigment) that creates patches or flat spots that can range from pink to red, to light or dark brown, to gray, to black. We call them sun spots, age spots, or liver spots—and they can be found on our face, legs, abdomen, or other places. While some people may be prone to these discolorations, hyperpigmentation can affect any of us, no matter what our race or ethnicity. And unfortunately, these spots are lifelong companions.
How Does Skin Discoloration Occur?
Skin cells produce melanin, and this gives your skin its color. Skin cells that are unhealthy or damaged start to kick into overdrive and produce too much melanin, which builds up in an area as a dark spot. It can affect almost anywhere on your body, causing discolored skin on legs to the top of your head. Hyperpigmentation especially affects areas that are exposed more, so forearms, shoulders, necks, chests, upper backs, and faces are especially prone. There are a number of causes:
- Too Much Time in the Sun: Whether it’s from a tanning bed, time spent sprawled on the beach, or even daily errands run in the car, UV rays can increase the amount of melanin produced in certain spots. These clump together and cause solar lentigines that color your skin.
- Aging: Skin discolorations often occur in those over age 50. Just as other systems in your body experience wear-and-tear, your skin becomes thinner and drier as you lose collagen and elastin over time. It becomes more likely to develop scaly patches and discolorations.
- Your Genetics: Hyperpigmentation often runs in families, and you’ll often see sun spots or freckles throughout the family tree. Lighter skinned people often get more spots because they don’t have as much protective melanin.
- Health Issues: Adrenal gland issues like Addison’s disease produce hyperpigmentation because the kidney does not produce enough cortisol. Medication can help treat this condition. Thyroid issues also release hormones that cause discolored skin, and this can be helped as well.
- Skin Injuries: Burns, cuts, and acne can produce hyperpigmentation, which is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
- Lack of Vitamins: Make sure to take B12 and folic acid to avoid hyperpigmentation.
- Medicines: Medications that make your skin sensitive to light, like birth control pills, will also cause hyperpigmentation.
- Change in Hormones: When you’re going through puberty, pregnancy, or menopause, you’re more prone to this skin condition. The mask of pregnancy, or melasma, causes these spots which often fade within a few months. Menopause skin discoloration is also common—and often treatable.
No matter the cause, the good news is that skin discoloration can be treated. Depending upon the severity of the pigmentation and each person’s individual body, results can vary. Treatments often take some time to be effective, but there are solutions to this very common challenge!
How to Fix Discolored Skin: Meet Halo
At the Advanced Center for Plastic Surgery, Dr. Beverly Fischer and her team use an innovative treatment called Halo™. It’s a hybrid fractional laser resurfacing treatment that used to eradicate or even out sun spots as well as treat a large variety of skin imperfections. It also has the added benefit of smoothing wrinkles and scars, tightening skin, and removing lesions.
Halo can be customized to your exact needs. It is painless and quick, and it uses two different light wavelengths (ablative and non-ablative) to reach the epidermis (outer) and dermis (underlying) layers, with short pulsing beams of light that remove the outer and heat the underlying skin. Not only does Halo repair the surface of your skin, but it goes deeper to remedy the source. It also stimulates the production of more collagen for smoother, firmer skin. It’s called Halo because your skin will glow! Since it is so gentle and effective, there is very little downtime associated with this procedure.
Is Laser Resurfacing Right for Me?
Have you been bothered by hyperpigmentation? A treatment like Halo might be an excellent solution for you if you have any of the following:
- Noticeable skin pigmentation
- Sun spots, also known as age or liver spots
- Sun-damaged skin
- Scars from acne, chickenpox, or an injury
- Small wrinkles or lines on your face
- Larger oil glands on your nose
- Post-facelift skin that is nonresponsive
- A birthmark
While Halo seems miraculous for many of these issues, it is not as effective for very dark skin, deeper wrinkles, saggy skin, or an active case of acne.
Results are usually immediate. You may have some redness for a few months, but you’ll see improvements right away; they often increase through the year and last for several years. You can have another treatment if you find you want it. In the meantime, you can take important steps to keep your skin healthy and happy, like using sunscreen and sun-protective clothing regularly, avoiding the sun during peak hours, refraining from touching acne, taking vitamins, and stopping any medications that are causing hyperpigmentation so you don’t get more spots!
Give Hyperpigmentation the Heave Ho
With Halo, you can address any hyperpigmentation that has you dreading the aging process. This safe and effective treatment will leave your skin feeling fresher and clearer, and will continue building collagen for future tightness. You can start looking forward to blowing out those candles, and you’ll get a healthy glow—from the candlelight and from the Halo.