What Laser Options are Best for Removing Age Spots from Face and Forearms?

I am 50 years old with brown hair, olive green eyes, light to medium olive skin tone. I have numerous small age spots on my face and forearms. I did have IPL about 2 years ago and it was fairly effective at removing the spots and upper lip melasma, but they came back despite regular use of sunscreen and sun avoidance. I would like to have laser treatment to remove age spots again, but I am confused by the various types of lasers being used. Is IPL, Q-switched, or Broadband Light best for removing age spots on face and forearms? Thank you.

Doctor Answers 7

IPL is best

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

For brown spots and pigments, IPL is the best. Lasers like Q Switch are more for tone problems. After you finished your IPL course two years ago, you should have been advised to come back in for maintenance treatments. This is an important part of any laser treatment plan. You should have an additional IPL session about every 6 months to maintain your results and address any new pigment issues. I would recommend you do at least 3 sessions of IPL again, and then continue to do a treatment at least every 6 months to maintain your results. 


Laser Options for Removing Age Spots from Face and Forearms

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

ipl or a light erbium laser treatment are good options. The more important factor is to choose a respected, experienced, and reputable practitioner who can utilized a laser/ipl that is suitable for you or who can combine modalities.

Laser Versus Light Based Therapies For Removing Age Spots

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

IPL and broadband light, which you mentioned are not the same as laser. Lasers use a single wavelength which achieves very specific objectives. Other light based therapies use many different wavelengths. And this makes the results less targeted and predictable.

Based on your description, I would recommend Fraxel Dual to help remove age spots from your face and forearms. This laser uses the 1550nm  and the 1927nm wavelength which is safe for all skin colors. Skin types with higher levels of melanin, such as yours have typically faced the risk of absorbing too much of the laser energy which can result in scars and burns. These wavelengths break up the concentrated areas of pigment in the age spots so that they can be removed by the body. 

Sanusi Umar, MD
Redondo Beach Dermatologic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

You might also like...

IPL works well for pigmented lesions

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

First make sure that your doctor is following you closely for the spots in case there is a suspicious one. For benign lesions, IPL works very well. You should understand that the IPL may remove the melanin but leaves the cells behind. It is not a permanent treatment and in order to maintain the results the treatment is repeated every 6 months to a year. I often combine the treatment with the Erbium YAG laser for resurfacing.

Laser Options for Removing Age Spots

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
I would recommend an IPL treatment (FotoFacial). This procedure is a non-invasive light based therapy that combine Intensed Pulsed Optical and Radiofrequency Energy treatments that erase skin damage without disrupting the skin surface and subsequently require no downtime. IPL treatments improve skin texture and irregular pigmentation of the face, neck, hands, arms, chest and back, and are often used to soften the texture and color of recent surgical scars. Specifically, pigmented lesions such as freckles, sunspots, and age spots are treated, along with Rosacea, spider veins, and skin imperfections caused by sun damage. Gradual and cumulative improvement is achieved between 3-5 treatments spaced 3 weeks apart, without discomfort. Patients generally return to normal activities and can apply makeup immediately after treatment sessions.

The Fraxel Restore Dual is a great choice for Freckles and mild resurfacing.

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

There are a number of options.  IPL treatments will remove many of the superficial deeper freckles and areas of sun damaged pigment.  Deeper dermal pigment will not respond as well.  Melasma may look good for a few weeks to a few months and will then return unless an aggressive skin-care-bleaching and sun-protection maintenance program is continued.  Fraxel Restore Dual Laser is very good at removing epidermal Freckles, fine wrinkles and tired sun-damaged skin from the face as well as arms, forearms and hands.  Resistant dermal freckles can be treated with a high energy Q-Switched or long-pulse Alexandrite or Q Switched Ruby Laser.

Mark Taylor, MD
Salt Lake City Dermatologic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Facial pigment

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Hello, There are a number of ways to effectively treat facial sunspots. First and foremost, you should meet with your physician and outline an easy and effective skin care program which will serve as your background maintenance.  If you are not in a hurry to remove your irregular pigmentation, then an individualized skin care regimen which will often include exfoliation, antioxidants, sun protection,and suppression of the pigment forming cells ( hydroquinones). Of course as you experienced in the past, an IPL will serve as a more rapid solution. I use the MedLite® C6 Q-Switched Nd:YAG Laser which targets the pigment more specifically.  This is the same laser used for tattoo removal. Either way, you should continue a skin care regimen between treatments. Good luck

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.