Age spots (also known as sun spots, hyperpigmentation, liver spots and lentigines) are harmless, flat, yellow or brown discolorations of the skin which usually occur on the back of the hands, neck and face of people above the age of 40.
These age spots are usually not serious but instead are mainly an annoyance since they can reveal a person's age. However, if you have irregular, dark spots which increase in size or change color or texture have them checked by a doctor (they could be a sign of skin cancer).
Actually, age spots have nothing to do with your age. Age spots have to do with how long you've been in the sun. They are a common sign of sun damage due to having the skin exposed to the sun over many years. In more serious situations, they can be due to impaired liver function or dietary and nutritional deficiencies.
As we age, our metabolism changes and the liver can become overwhelmed with toxins. If the liver cannot rid the body of these toxins, age spots can begin to develop. Oxidation within the body and a lack of antioxidants in your diet can also play an important role in the development of age spots.
It is important to remember that age spots take years to form and eliminating them will take time, too. Remedies are easily available and if they don't improve simply try another one. Also, as a preventative measure, always use a sunscreen of at least SPF 15 if you plan to be outdoors in the sun for extended periods of time.
Laser, either the Q-switched ruby or alexandrite, is the most effective way to get rid of age spots. The treatment leaves a small scab where the spot was and disappears in a couple of weeks. Generally one or two treatments are needed at $400 to $700 per session. If your spots are spread out across your cheeks or chest, you can try the new Fraxel dual laser. One or two treatments at $750 to $1,500 each will do the trick.
One at-home solution is a hydroquinone cream which inhibits melanin production and can often lighten age spots as effectively as a laser. At prescription-strength (four percent), it should fade darkness in four to eight weeks.