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Cosmetic Dermatology

Age and Brown Spots

The development of age and brown spots is a common concern for many patients who visit California Skin Institute. There are many reasons why these spots can occur, including hereditary factors, hormones, and sun damage. It is important to note that when it comes to brown spots, there are cosmetic concerns as well as medical ones. The cosmetic concerns can be addressed with a number of options, including laser treatments, chemical peels, and a variety of other skin procedures. However, in some instances, there is also a medical concern, in that the development of brown spots on the face, hands, or anywhere on the body can signal the presence of skin cancer.

If you’d like to schedule a consultation with one of our providers, please contact a California Skin Institute practice near you, or fill out the Contact Form, below.

Causes of Age Spots and Brown Spots

Brown spots can develop for a number of reasons, including sun exposure, genetics, health conditions, and a variety of other causes. Typically, these spots can be divided into three general categories; sun spots, seborrheic keratoses, and skin tags.

  • Sun Spots: The development of sunspots presents itself as brown or dark spots that appear on areas of the body commonly exposed to the sun. For example, these spots are common on the face, neck, hands, chest and back. Usually, sunspots are not raised or bumpy, but simply have a darker color than the rest of the skin. Although sunspots are commonly referred to as “liver spots,” their formation isn’t caused by the liver. The underlying cause of these spots is sun exposure, which can increase the amount of skin pigment in the area. Skin pigment plays an important role in protecting cells against UV radiation and is the body’s natural response to sun exposure.
  • Seborrheic Keratoses: These spots on the skin typically develop with age. They can range in color, from relatively light to dark brown, and even black. There are many reasons why these brown spots can form, including age and hereditary factors. Typically, seborrheic keratoses are benign, although they can signal the presence of skin cancer in some cases.
  • Skin Tags: A skin tag typically appears to be a flap of skin sticking out from the skin surface and can be a variety of colors, but it is often very close to the general pigmentation of your skin. Although many skin tags are relatively short, some can be quite long, even reaching half an inch in length. In many cases, skin tags are benign, but sometimes they can be a symptom of a more serious health issue. They can develop for a number of reasons, and are commonly found in individuals struggling with diabetes and/or excess weight.

Treating Brown Spots

When you visit California Skin Institute to treat brown spots, your provider will first examine your skin for an initial visual assessment. If there is concern about skin cancer or other serious skin conditions, a biopsy may be performed. Often, the concern may arise due to the size and shape of the spots, as well as how quickly they’ve grown.

Your treatment will depend on the nature and severity of the problem. For example, sunspots may be treated with exfoliation-based procedures, like laser resurfacing, Fraxel laser, photo facials or IPL, chemical peels and microdermabrasion. Retinol and other skin topical treatments may also be effective in some cases.

For seborrheic keratoses and skin tags, common treatment options may include laser procedures, cryosurgery (removal by freezing), and other surgical options.

First Step Toward Diagnosis and Treatment

To get a detailed assessment of your brown spots by a highly trained medical provider, please call a California Skin Institute practice near you, or schedule your appointment online!


This is to be only used as an educational piece and individuals should not use it to self-diagnose a skin condition or problem.

Treatments for Age and Brown Spots

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