Pigmented Lesions

Pigmented lesions refer to pigmented spots and growths on the skin surface caused by melanocytes. Melanocytes are specialized cells that produce melanin, the pigment responsible for the colour of the skin. When melanocytes become damaged or unhealthy melanin production may be affected, leading to a variety of pigmentation disorders. Some people are born with pigmented lesions and others develop these lesions over time. Common pigmented lesions include: freckles, melasma, sunspots or birthmarks, café-au-lait, agespots, keratoses, poikiloderma.

At First Ave Medical Spa, we prefer to use GentleMax Pro to treat pigmented lesions. GentleMax Pro has been established as cutting-edge technology from Syneron-Candela, a leading manufacturer in non-invasive aesthetic procedures. It is a dual wavelength laser platform that combines two separate laser sources, a 755 nm Alexandrite laser and a 1064 nm Nd:YAG laser, in a single delivery system. A controlled amount of therapeutic energy is delivered individually, or optically combined in each pulse and delivered to target tissues. Thermal energy is also selectively absorbed by target chromophores – melanin or hemoglobin – for destruction of pigmented lesions in target tissues. A cryogen cooling system is integrated for enhanced patient tolerance.

Types of Pigmented Lesions

Café-au-lait are characterized as flat, pigmented lesions or birthmarks evenly distributed on the surface of the skin. Café-au-lait are light to dark brown in colour, with well-demarcated, smooth or irregular borders. Contributing factors include: genetics or an excessive number of melanosomes.

Freckles are characterized as small, flat, circular, tan, light brown, brown or black spots on the surface of the skin. Freckles are caused by an overproduction of melanin from repeated exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet rays. Freckles appear mainly on the nose, cheeks, upper shoulders or arms in people with fair skin, blond or red hair and green or blue eyes.

Sun spots are characterized as harmless, flat or slightly raised skin lesions with clearly defined borders. Sun spots range in color from light to dark brown, red, gray or black. Appearing mainly on the nose, cheeks, forehead, neck, chest, forearms or back of the hands. Contributing factors include the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, indoor tanning, sunburns or PUVA photo therapy.

Melasma is a common skin condition that causes the appearance of brown to gray-brown patches of skin due to the body producing too much melanin, a natural substance that gives color to our hair, skin, and eyes. It usually appears on the face, although it can also develop on the forearms and neck. No one is really certain exactly what causes melasma, but there are many factors that can trigger it including pregnancy, birth control pills, hormone therapy, cosmetics, and anti-seizure medications. Because melasma is so common during pregnancy, it is sometimes referred to as “the mask of pregnancy.” Sun exposure is also a major melasma trigger because ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun can increase melanin production.

Age spots — also called liver spots and solar lentigines — are small dark areas on your skin. They vary in size and usually appear on the face, hands, shoulders and arms — areas most exposed to the sun. Age spots are the result of an excess production of melanin, or skin pigment. Doctors don’t always know why age spots develop. Skin aging, sun exposure, or other forms of ultraviolet (UV) light exposure, such as tanning beds, are all possible causes. Age spots are very common in adults older than 50. But younger people can get them too, especially if they spend a lot of time in the sun.

Seborrheic keratosis is a common skin growth. It may seem worrisome because it can look like a wart, pre-cancerous skin growth (actinic keratosis), or skin cancer. Despite their appearance, seborrheic keratoses are harmless. Most people get these growths when they are middle aged or older. Because they begin at a later age and can have a wart-like appearance, seborrheic keratoses are often called the “barnacles of aging.” It’s possible to have just one of these growths, but most people develop several. Some growths may have a warty surface while others look like dabs of warm, brown candle wax on the skin. They range in color from white to black; however, most are tan or brown.

Poikiloderma of Civatte, also known as sun aging, is a condition caused by sun exposure. The skin changes as a result of chronic, long term exposure to the sun as well as normal aging. Chronically exposed children can acquire significant damage by age 15. These affects may also become apparent as early as age 20.Lesions associated with poikiloderma of Civatte are usually asymptomatic, although some patients do report mild burning, itching and increased sensitivity of the affected skin. These chronic reddish-brown discolorations are commonly found on the neck and cheeks. Although the exact causes of poikiloderma of Civatte are unknown, many contributing factors have been identified. Chronic exposure to ultraviolet light is the primary factor, explaining why sun exposed areas are the most prone to developing these lesions. Photosensitizing chemicals in perfumes and cosmetics have been identified as a possible cause of poikiloderma of Civatte. A genetic predisposition may also exist.

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