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Liver Spots, Anyone?

Although their only physiological connection to the liver is perhaps their color, liver spots, or age spots, as they are more commonly known, frequently appear on the skin in elderly persons. The medical term for age spots is “solar lentigo.” Age spots are small freckle like blemishes on the skin that are associated with aging and extreme or prolonged exposure to the sun. They range in color from light brown to red or black and are located in areas most often exposed to the sun, particularly the hands, face, shoulders, arms and forehead and the head if bald.
In addition to sun exposure, simply growing older can cause the extra production of melanin and subsequent age spots. Genetics also plays a role in how susceptible you are to developing age spots. Although anyone can develop age spots, most are more likely to develop the condition after reaching 40 years old and upward if you:

Have light colored or fair skin
Have a history of frequent or intense sun exposure or sunburn

Though very common in the elder age group, in the vast majority of cases, age spots pose no threat, and no treatment is necessary. Occasionally, they have been known to obscure the detection of skin cancer. Visual Inspection. Your doctor can diagnose age spots by visually inspecting your skin. Skin Biopsy. If there’s any doubt, a doctor may do other tests, such as a skin biopsy. During a skin biopsy, the doctor takes a small sample of skin for microscopic analysis. A skin biopsy is usually done in a doctor’s office using a local anesthetic. Some seniors consider age spots unsightly and wish to have them removed. There are a number of procedures for moving the darkened blemishes. Laser Treatments. Lasers are ideal for age spot removal. Because the melanin pigment is designed to absorb light, almost any color of laser light can be used to take away brown spots.

Chemical Peel. Chemical peels involve the application of a chemical solution to the surface of the skin. The depth of the peel depends on the type of chemical and the method of application. The solution dissolves the damaged, age spotted surface tissue. The damaged skin is then replaced with a more youthful looking layer. The fresh surface layer is also smoother and less wrinkled.

Microdermabrasion. Microdermabrasion refers to a category of techniques and devices which rejuvenate the very upper layers of the skin. It typically affects the topmost of the five layers of skin, helping to exfoliate the skin and removing dead cells. This results in an improvement in the texture of the skin, diminishing fine lines and improving areas of darker pigmentation such as age spots. Cryosurgery. Also referred to as cryotherapy, cryosurgery is the name for a technique which destroys and removes abnormal skin cells through freezing. It can be applied directly to the skin with a swab or sprayed on. It sometimes is used for removing age spots, however it is also often used to remove cancerous skin cells. Spots on the skin should be determined to be benign prior to any treatment, as it may be a sign of skin cancer.

Grandma with a Big Hat by *KangaClaw on deviantART

Creams. There are a wide range of topical products sold for age spot treatment. Most involve some form of a bleaching agent. Bleaching creams are good for bleaching large areas of discoloration. When used for treating age spots, bleaching creams tend to bleach the area around the spots more than the spots themselves. Thus the topical bleaching creams are usually not good for bleaching individual brown spots because it is impossible to confine the cream to the area where the spot is, which usually results in a ring around a brown spot. Because age spot treatments are considered cosmetic, health insurance companies usually do not pay for it. In addition, any of the procedures can have side effects, so discuss them in advance with your doctor. Make sure your dermatologist is specially trained and experienced in the technique you are considering.

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for health care provisions such as Home Care, Home Health, Skilled Nursing, Hospice Care, Medical Supplies, as well as a variety of Assisted Living San Jose and Care Homes nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

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