Seborrheic Keratosis

About Seborrheic Keratosis

Seborrheic keratosis (SK) is a benign skin growth that tends to appear on the scalp, face, trunk, and extremities starting in the 4th  decade of life. SKs tend to be raised, white/tan/pink/brown/black in color, and can have a somewhat greasy appearance. Some people might only have a few SKs on their entire body, while others may go on to develop hundreds of them. Although it is not known exactly what causes SKs, many people will say that one or both of their parents also had them, and autosomal dominant inheritance of SKs has also been described in dermatology literature. While SKs are nearly always benign, rare cases of skin cancer arising within or adjacent to them have been reported. Most patients seek treatment for SKs because they do not like their appearance, but some patients find these spots to be itchy, burning, painful, or irritating.

How is Seborrheic Keratosis treated?

At Gateway Aesthetic Institute and Laser Center, our board-certified dermatologists use a state-of-the-art erbium laser to precisely ablate your SKs. The spot size that is used during this process is less than 1 mm in diameter, and thus allows for extremely careful destruction of the SK while sparing damage to the surrounding skin. Although some physicians will recommend treating SKs by curetting them (scraping with a sharp metal loop), freezing them (cryotherapy) or by burning them (cautery or electrodesiccation), these approaches are imprecise, and can lead to overaggressive treatment causing scarring or pigmentary issues, undertreatment where the SK is not completely removed, or pigmentary damage to the surrounding skin (either hyperpigmentation whereby the skin becomes darker or hypopigmentation or even depigmentation, where the pigment is temporarily or permanently destroyed). Erbium laser in the hands of one of our extremely skilled physicians is the most effective way of treating SKs, giving you the best cosmetic outcome while leaving your surrounding skin untouched.

Can I have other treatments performed on the same day?

It is absolutely possible to have other treatments performed on the same day. Because SKs on the face are superficial growths that do not extend beyond the epidermis, it is in most cases possible to have any number of other treatments performed on the same day, in order to bundle your recovery time. Some of the treatments that our board-certified dermatologists will frequently perform in conjunction with SK treatments include:

Are Seborrheic Keratosis the same as a mole?

Although they might look like moles, SKs are technically not moles. Instead, they are benign overgrowths of the epidermis. Because SKs are made of epidermal cells and not mole cells, this allows for our board certified dermatologists to treat them with an erbium laser as described above, without having to resort to more invasive measures.

Is there a cure for Seborrheic Keratosis?

Unfortunately, there is no way to “cure” SKs. Because these spots are very common in the overall population and are frequently inherited from one of your relatives, it is more common to encounter an adult in the 5th decade of life or beyond who has SKs, rather than one who does not. While laser ablation of SKs is an extremely effective treatment and brings about an excellent cosmetic outcome in the hands of our highly skilled physicians, it is not capable of preventing the formation of SKs in the future. For this reason, many of our patients will come in for maintenance treatment every 1-2 years to have any new SKs treated as they arise.

How long will I need to recover from having my Seborrheic Keratosis treated with ablative laser?

Depending on the number of SKs you want to have treated, their size, anatomic location, and density, recovery time can range from a couple of days to several weeks. Areas with a more robust blood supply that are rich in follicles and glands will heal more quickly than areas of the body that lack these characteristics. For example, SKs treated on the face and scalp will heal more quickly than those treated on the lower legs. Recovery entails keeping the area clean and moist with ointment, and most importantly keeping the treated areas protected from the sun, so that they don’t become hyperpigmented. Once the treated areas have healed, it is possible to apply sunscreen and/or makeup over them to camouflage any residual redness, which will eventually fade with time. When people have hundreds of SKs on the trunk (back and/or abdomen and chest) or legs that they wish to have treated in a single session, the treated areas can stay red for weeks to months even after the skin has healed. This is an important consideration if you are planning to have these treated before a sunny vacation, cruise, or other social event where the treated areas of skin may be exposed (weddings, graduations… etc.).

Why trust Gateway Aesthetic Institute and Laser Center to treat my Seborrheic Keratosis?

Our board-certified dermatologists at Gateway Aesthetic Institute and Laser Center have decades of experience performing ablative laser treatments for a variety of benign skin growths using the most advanced erbium lasers. While many practitioners will offer to freeze, burn, or scrape off SKs, these approaches are imprecise, as well as fraught with a high risk of complications. Additionally, because many people with SKs are in their 4th/5th decade of life and beyond, with a history of sun exposure, it is important to have a board-certified dermatologist carefully examine your skin both before and during treatment, to ensure that no spots suspicious for skin cancer or precancer are hiding amongst your SKs. Finally, because of our wide breadth of aesthetic offerings, it is possible for you to not only address your SKs during a single treatment session but to also incorporate many other ways to refresh the appearance of your face and skin on the same day, so that you are making the most efficient use of your recovery time, while on the journey toward looking like the best version of yourself.

Begin your aesthetic journey with us today.