We have received a few questions about liver spots, liver spots cancer and its causes, as well as about laser treatment of liver and other pigmented spots.

Liver spot, brown spot, sun spot are all synonyms for age spot. Liver spots have nothing to do with or caused by the liver. Pigmented lesions (spots) often appear on the face, the top of the hand, arms, neck and decolletage. These areas are the most common because they are the most exposed to the sun.

Pictures of Liver spots and other pigmented spots
Video of pigmented spots

These spots are the main signs of aging from the sun, i.e. they are caused not by the passage of time and chronological aging, but from the sun. The pigment spots you see appearing on your face are not a function of age, but of sun exposure. Sun spots are another common phrase for “age spots”, “liver spots” or “brown spots”. They are also called lentigos or solar lentigines.

Our skin has melanin pigment which absorbs sunlight and helps naturally protect our skin from UV rays. However as we age, our skin’s natural ability to fend off UV rays from the sun begins to deteriorate, and we see the development of age spots.

There are a couple different types of liver spots that people get on their skin. There are solar lentigos (age spots) and freckles (known as ephiledes). These come from the sun and that’s because the sun damages the melanocytes, which are the cells in the epidermis (the skin’s surface layer) that produce melanin pigment. Most of the cells in our epidermis are skin cells that form the dead skin layer as well as keratin that protects us from the outside world, but one in every tenth or twentieth cell is a melanocyte which produces melanin pigment and transfers this brown pigment to our skin cells to help protect us against the sun.

People with very light skin have almost no melanin pigment and that type of skin cannot do a good job of protecting them from the sun, causing abnormal melanin pigment in the form of freckles and brown spots. Dark-skinned people do a much better job of protecting themselves from the sun.

Sun-Damaged Skin Pictures Slideshow

Does Tanning Cause Age Spots?

Tan skin is not healthy skin. A tan is our body’s way of telling us our skin has been damaged, and its attempt to protect itself from further damage. As we undergo UVA and UVB light exposure from the sun’s rays or from tanning beds, we are damaging our skin, which will lead to age spots (solar lentigines), sun spots, liver spots, poikiloderma (reddish–brown areas of discoloration) and melasma (mottled brownish areas). Tanning beds have been shown to have a much more damaging effect on the skin than the sun.

Health experts are fighting back against the aggressive campaign by the indoor tanning industry to portray sunbathing and the use of indoor tanning beds as safe and beneficial for you. There are many research papers linking tanning beds to melanoma, the most dangerous kind of skin cancer.

Can Sun Spots be Prevented

Preventing age spots requires sun avoidance and sun protection. Most of the sun damage we receive occurs while we are driving. Car window glass protects us from 100% of the UVA light (the light which causes a burn) but none of the UVB, the light responsible for sun damage and aging skin. Installing a tinted or clear UVB-protecting film on the car window is a very good idea to help prevent much of the sun damage which causes age, liver, or brown spots.

The second recommendation is to wear sunscreen all day, every day, all the time. Even if you already have sun damaged skin, it’s never too late to start. This will help prevent further damage and age spotting.

Are Brown Spots Cancerous?

Rarely, but if you see any pigmented lesion on your skin do not assume that it’s benign. If you notice a lesion on your skin, especially if it has any changes in color, size or shape, you should see a dermatologist to determine if they are cancerous.

You may need to have a biopsy performed to determine if the lesion is benign or not. Once the doctor has determined that it is benign, there are a variety of lasers that can be used to improve or remove it. Most of pigmented lesions are very effectively removed with laser treatments.

Laser Treatment of Liver/Brown/Sun/Age Spots

In general laser treatment of pigmented lesions is very effective and permanent. New spots may appear as your sun exposure increases. These are new spots, not a recurrence of the old, removed spots. Good sun-avoidance is key if you wish to see your skin free of sun spots for a long time.

Since there is a chance that some of the age spots could be a sign of skin cancer, laser treatments should be initiated or cleared by a dermatologist. Laser treatments typically last 20-30 minutes, can be paindfull depending on the laser modality available to your provider, and should be repeated 2-4 times.



anti-aging skin care for liver spots on skin

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  • Helps fade away spots, blemishes and scars
  • Helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and stretch marks
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  • Helps speed the natural healing process of the skin
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More about Ellezza™