Age Spots & Discoloration


There are many different causes of age spots and discoloration of the skin. Discoloration merely implies that the color is abnormal while pigmentation is normal--as with freckles and moles. Freckles sometimes are hard to distinguish from age spots each in someone who has a lot of them. The easiest way to distinguish the two is how they react to sun exposure. Freckles immediately darken in the sun whereas age spots do not--they occur and darken slowly over time. Freckles can not be permanently removed; they will always come back or new ones will emerge.

The most common discoloration of the skin is an age spot. Age spots occur as we age and are usually located in sun-exposed areas. This sun overexposure is referred to as photodamage. Age spots can be treated by many different modalities including topical hydroquionone and retinoic acid, cryotherapy, laser treatments, and chemical peels.

Post-inflammatory pigmentation, commonly referred to as PIH, is the discoloration left after an injury to the skin, whether it be acne, a burn, a scratch, etc. This discoloration is more commonly in people with dark complexions but can occur as a deep redness in those of lighter skin types.

The pigmentation changes that occur with PIH is located in the dermis of the skin and is sometimes difficult to reach. Although it may go away on its own with time, sometimes it doesn't. Treatment options for PIH include the Melanage peel, repeated superficial peels, microneedling, and laser treatments.

I’ve had three boys, and with every pregnancy, my skin got worse. I couldn’t stand the darkening around my forehead, cheeks, and lips. I want to thank Dr. Retief for helping me with my brown spots/melasma.
— Kari P. in Nashville, TN


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