Time and sun exposure both take a substantial toll on the skin, resulting in a complexion that is dull and lifeless. You might also notice brown or gray spots begin to form over time, appearing primarily on the face and other areas that are frequently exposed to UV rays. All these symptoms combine to create an appearance that makes you look older than you feel and even affects your self-confidence.

The Lowdown on Photoaging

Frequent sun exposure accelerates the natural aging process, an issue known as photoaging. UV rays also alter the way the skin ages, often giving it a worn, leathery appearance in addition to the formation of facial creases, brown spots and uneven texture. The exposure also increases your risk for skin cancer, creating precancerous lesions in some cases that affect your health as well as your appearance.

The best way to treat photoaging is to stop it before it starts – by consistently protecting your delicate skin from the sun. If protection wasn’t on your priority list during your younger years and the damage is already done, there are medical treatments available to reverse signs of sun damage and restore your clear, radiant complexion once again.

Are You at Risk?

While UV rays can cause damage to anyone’s skin, some folks are at even higher risk for photoaging than others. Those risk factors might include:

If you fall into any of these categories, sun protection becomes even more important. In addition to regular use of a sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30, staying out of the sun during the hottest parts of the day and wearing sunglasses and hat whenever you are outdoors will also help.

  • Fair skin, blue eyes and lighter hair shades
  • History of excessive time in the sun
  • History of tanning bed use
  • Age, since most damage occurs after age 40

Understanding Brown Spots

Brown markings that appear on the skin are also called solar lentigines, liver spots, age spots or sun spots. They occur when an excess amount of the skin pigment melanin is produced.

While scientists don’t know exactly why brown spots form, they do know sun exposure is a significant factor. This is why they are commonly seen in sun-exposed areas like the face, shoulders, back, chest, and backs of the hands.Brown spots are painless and have the same texture as your skin. They can range in color from light brown or gray to black.

While newly developed spots can cause concern, they are almost always harmless. If you see a new spot form or changes to a current spot, it is always a good idea to have it checked by your doctor. If your doctor notices anything unusual about the mark, a biopsy may be performed to determine whether additional treatment might be needed.

Other Signs of Sun Damage

Brown spots are not the only evidence of too much sun on the skin. Other symptoms of photoaging include:

  • Dry, coarse skin
  • Fine lines and deep facial creases
  • Uneven skin texture and tone
  • Visible blood vessels
  • Skin laxity, particularly in the midface and along the jawline

Many of these issues are due to UV rays depleting the body of collagen, an essential protein that supports the dermal structure and contributes to the supple smoothness of youthful skin.

Collagen levels naturally deplete over time, which is why some of these symptoms are seen with the natural aging process as well. However, UV exposure accelerates the depletion, which means these changes can occur much earlier than you expect or want.

Treatment Options

Fortunately, there are now treatments that can reverse many of the signs of photoaging, restoring your youthful appearance. The Maas ClinicTM offers a variety of options to ensure we can tailor your procedure to your precise needs. Some of those choices might include:

Dark Spot Topical Treatments, Chemical Peels and Clear and Brilliant.

Dark Spot Topical Treatments

In some cases, the elimination of unwanted pigmentation can be as close as your medicine cabinet. Dr. Maas offers two topical medications available by prescription only to brighten the skin and eliminate brown spots caused by sun damage or other factors. Restore is a compound that combines hydroquinone, tretinoin and hydrocortisone to produce clearer skin. Restore Max features the same active ingredients in higher concentrations for patients with more stubborn pigmentation irregularities.

Chemical Peels

These exfoliating treatments use a chemical solution to remove outermost skin layers with much of the damage that has occurred. With different treatments to choose from, we can create a treatment plan that works to the precise depth necessary for you to achieve the best results. Deeper peels require some downtime afterward but also produce the most stunning outcomes.

Clear and Brilliant

This revolutionary laser treatment refreshes and rejuvenates the complexion without excessive time in our office or downtime afterward. The 20-minute treatment uses non-ablative technology, which means it works into the deeper dermal layers without disrupting the dermal surface. Just one Clear and Brilliant treatment can produce a more youthful appearance that lasts for many months.

Photorejuvenation (IPL and BBL)

One of the best procedures for eliminating those unwanted brown spots is photorejuvenation, also known as light-based therapy. There are two types available – Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), and BroadBand Light (BBL) therapy. These treatments deliver multiple wavelengths of light into the deeper dermal structure, targeting the melanin in the skin to eradicate the unwanted pigmentation. Other targets include redness of blood vessels, and the bacteria that cause acne, making these procedures a good choice for patients also wanting to say goodbye to visible vessels that often appear around the cheeks and nose, or who wish to eradicate stubborn spots.

A healing response is triggered by the heat from the light energy, which stimulates the production of new collagen and elastin in the skin, restoring a healthier and more youthful complexion.


Fractional laser technology is an excellent method of reversing sun damage and eliminating brown spots on the skin. Fraxel features gentle laser treatments that penetrate the inner layers of dermal tissue via micro-channels. The channels effectively stimulate the skin’s natural restorative processes without damaging surrounding dermis and tissue. Fraxel is a quick, comfortable process thanks to the application of topical numbing cream beforehand. Most patients achieve an optimal outcome with a series of treatment sessions.

Skincare Products For Age Spots

The Maas ClinicTM offers a number of effective skincare products that can also help to minimize the appearance of age spots on the skin. These include SkinMedica’s Lytera® Skin Brightening Complex. Appropriate for all skin types, beyond addressing dark spots and skin discoloration, it can also brighten dull skin, with many users seeing significant improvement in just 4 weeks of twice daily use.

Protecting the skin with a good sunscreen is also key to reducing the appearance of more age spots. Our Protect Face Shield SPF 30 sunscreen is specially formulated with the highest level of broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection, and also features skin-saving ingredients such as Vitamins A, C, E, as well as antioxidants like Green Tea, Co-Q10 which reduce free radical skin damage.

Sunspots and other types of sun damage are an inevitable byproduct of spending too much unprotected time outdoors. However, there are effective treatments available at The Maas ClinicTM to eliminate those signs of damage and restore a more radiant appearance. To find out which of these treatments might meet your needs best, contact us The Maas ClinicTM by email or (415) 567-7000 today.

The information about spots and sun damage was reviewed by Corey S. Maas MDTM. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us using our contact form below.

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