Sunspots and Freckles

About Treating Sun Spots and Freckles

Sun Spots – Solar lentigo and Lentigo simplex

A sun spot can also be referred to as a solar lentigo (plural, solar lentigines), age spot, or liver spot. Although they are benign pigmented spots, their presence is related to excessive ultraviolet (UV) exposure, which is a risk factor for developing skin cancer. They can be as small as 2 mm or as large as 2 cm in diameter, range in color from tan to black, and are more common in adults who have a significant history of sun exposure. In fact, it has been estimated that sun spots are present in 90% of individuals of Northern European descent who are over the age of 60! 

Lentigo simplex is similar in appearance to a sun spot, but can affect younger individuals and occur on non-sun exposed areas of the body. Lentigo simplex can also occasionally appear on mucous membranes, lips, and on the genitals.

While the vast majority of sun spots and lentigo simplex are benign, there is a type of melanoma skin cancer called lentigo maligna that can mimic their appearance. It is therefore very important to have your skin carefully examined by one of our board-certified dermatologists if you notice any new or changing pigmented spots on your face—especially if you have a significant lifetime history of sun exposure.

The presence of multiple sun spots or lentigo simplex in young children is very unusual, and warrants a careful history and physical examination by one of our board-certified dermatologists. This is because multiple lentigines can be associated with various genetic disorders such a xeroderma pigmentosum, LEOPARD syndrome, Carney complex, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, among others.


Freckles commonly arise in young adults, children, and adolescents on sun exposed areas of skin (face, shoulders, arms). They usually start to appear during the first 3 years of life. They tend to be light brown, darken with increased sun exposure during the summer, and lighten during the winter. Although these spots are benign and considered endearing by many, they are nevertheless a marker of UV induced damage to the skin.

How can I treat my sun spots and freckles?

At the Gateway Aesthetic Institute & Laser Center, we offer a wide range of treatment options for sun spots and freckles. Our board-certified dermatologists pride themselves on taking a customized and collaborative approach to treating your unwanted pigment, which will be informed by your comfort level with various treatment options, lifestyle, medical history, skin type, and other concurrent skin issues that you are looking to address. When it comes to treating sun spots and freckles, there is no one size fits all approach. Some of the treatment options that our board-certified dermatologists will discuss with you include:

Pigment directed picosecond lasers such as the:

      • Picofacial®
      • Fotona Starwalker® PQX
      • Quanta Discovery® Pico

Pigment directed nanosecond (Q-switched) lasers such as the:

      • Fotona Starwalker® MaQX
      • Lumenis Versapulse®

Pigment directed long-pulsed lasers such as the:

      • Quanta Light Evo®
      • Quanta Thunder®

Fractional lasers such as Fraxel® DUAL and Sciton Halo®

Intense pulsed light (IPL)

Chemical peels

Radiofrequency technology

Prescription strength topical medications

High quality cosmeceutical lightening agents

A wide array of sun protective strategies

Are these treatments safe in skin of color?

Laser and other energy-based device treatments are very effective at addressing unwanted pigment, but some of these technologies must be wielded very carefully or avoided altogether in more melanin-rich skin. This is because there is a fine balance between eliminating unwanted pigment, while preserving a person’s natural complexion and skin tone. When improperly employed, laser and energy-based device treatments can sometimes do more harm than good—causing either increased pigmentation (hyperpigmentation) or loss of pigment (hypopigmentation). Our board-certified dermatologists are skin care experts, with extensive experience treating a wide array of skin types. They can assess your needs and discuss your goals during your consultation, to determine what treatment options would be appropriate for you.

Broadly speaking, some of the laser technologies that our dermatologists will frequently utilize to treat unwanted pigment in skin of color is our signature Picofacial®, which was developed at the Gateway Aesthetic Institute and Laser Center. Depending on your other skin care needs, this may be combined with chemical peels or light fractional ablative laser treatments, to further expedite the clearance of pigment from your skin. Finally, there are a wide range of prescription strength pigment lightening agents, as well as high quality cosmeceutical products available in Apothica, that our dermatologists will frequently recommend to optimize the results of your other pigment directed treatments.

So, the short answer is YES—these treatments are fantastic options in skin of color, as long as they are being managed by a board-certified dermatologist who knows how to administer them safely and  effectively.

Is it possible to have other treatments performed on the same day when treating my sun spots and freckles?

It is very common for our patients to have multiple procedures performed during a single treatment session. Some treatments that our board-certified dermatologists will frequently combine with pigment directed therapies include injectable treatments such as neuromodulators and soft tissue fillers, as well as the ablation of unwanted skin lesions such as sebaceous hyperplasia, skin tags, dermatosis papulosis nigra, and other benign skin growths.

Our patients also enjoy the “Light and Bright” and “Light, Bright, and Tight” treatments that were specifically developed at Gateway Aesthetic Institute and Laser Center and are only offered in our clinic.

      • “Light and Bright” treatment: This consists of a Picofacial® or IPL followed by a light erbium laser peel, which can expedite the removal of pigment from the surface of the skin, while gently improving skin laxity and addressing minor surface irregularities such as fine lines and crepiness.
      • “Light, Bright, and Tight” treatment: This consists of a Picofacial® or IPL, light erbium laser peel, in addition to 1064-nm laser skin tightening, which gently tightens collagen on the lower face and neck.

There are numerous treatment options at the Gateway Aesthetic Institute and Laser Center. If there are other needs that you are looking to have addressed, our physicians will work with you to develop a treatment plan and timeline that works best for your lifestyle, and streamlines your recovery time to suit your busy personal and professional life. 

Why trust Gateway Aesthetic Institute and Laser Center to help me treat my sun spots and freckles?

Our board-certified dermatologists are skin care experts who understand how distressing the appearance of these pigmented spots can be. They understand that the successful management of sun spots and freckles requires a customized, multi-modal approach that considers both short term improvement, as well as long term maintenance. You can be assured that when you come to Gateway Aesthetic Institute and Laser Center to have your pigmentary needs addressed, our board-certified dermatologists will formulate a targeted, dynamic treatment plan that will evolve as your appearance, and your unique needs do.

Because the treatment of unwanted pigment often requires a fine balancing act between efficacy and harm, it is important that you place your care in the hands of expert physicians who know how to effectively address your concerns, while preserving your native pigment and natural complexion. Our board-certified dermatologists are skin care experts, who not only obtain excellent outcomes in their own patients, but who are frequently sought by patients who have experienced poor pigmentary complications when being treated at other aesthetic practices.

Finally, our physicians understand that many people have busy schedules, and can only afford to divert limited time from personal and professional obligations in order to attend to their skin care needs. As the Gateway Aesthetic Institute and Laser Center, our physicians are experts at curating customized, comprehensive treatment plans that allow you to address numerous concerns in a single treatment session, so that you can return to your life and its responsibilities as quickly as possible, and as the most natural and rejuvenated version of yourself.

Begin your aesthetic journey with us today.