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What is the difference between brown spots, freckles, and Melasma?

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Hyperpigmentation is the darkening of an area of skin caused by increased production of melanin. Skin can produce excess of pigment in response to sun exposure, hormonal fluctuations or injuries such as acne, cuts or burns. There are several types of hyperpigmentation:

Brown spots vary in size and usually appear on the face, hands, shoulders and arms. Areas most exposed to the sun. Age spots are common in adults older than age of 50.

Melasma is a common skin condition of adults in which light to dark brown pigmentation develops, mainly on the face.

Freckles are flat, tanned spots that may develop on sun exposed skin after repeated exposure to sunlight.


1.    Increase cell turnover by using topical creams such as retinoic acids.

2.    Inhibit Tyrosinase production by using daily topical creams to suppress the deposition of melanin.

3.    Exfoliation and chemical peels can be helpful in lifting the pigment and allowing it to be removed.

4.    Protect from UV exposure with sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 on all exposed areas is a must. UV exposure will worsen hyperpigmentation.

Professional treatments such as IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) are highly successful in treating hyperpigmentation. These treatments are usually done in the fall. IPL improves the color and texture of your skin. It can undo some of the visible damage caused by sun exposure. The treatments are spaced 3-4 weeks apart and usually done in a series of 3-6. You can apply make-up immediately after, but sunscreen is a must.

Chemical peels are another great professional treatment to help lift hyperpigmentation. Again, these are best done in a series of 3-4 spaced a month apart. Down time is 2-5 days of flaking or peeling. Everyone responds differently to chemical peels, but you can wear make-up after a chemical peel.  

We offer the above treatments at Cosmetic Surgery Affiliates as well as great professional skin care products to help further the results of your treatments.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.