You may have heard freckles referred to as “kisses from the sun” and if you have, then you are correct. But let’s get technical- freckles are from the sun, but are actually damage from the sun. Freckles are intertwined with genetics and sun exposure and tend to be most common in individuals with fair skin or individuals with blonde/ red hair. If you read my previous blog on the dangers of tanning beds you’ll know I am a victim of the “burn, freckle, peel” cycle when exposed to long periods of sun exposure. And if we are being honest, I thought my freckles were cute until I started working at Soine Dermatology & Aesthetics and got a future glimpse of what they truly become- age spots!
The most effective way to remove freckles is with a laser. Reminder: Not all lasers are created equally and not all operators know how to use or get the best results from their laser system. It is incredibly important to be treated by a Board Certified Dermatologist or Plastic Surgeon. In our office, we use a laser called BBL, or BroadBand Light. By using BBL, the laser picks up the darker pigment of the freckle, heats it up, and actually causes the pigment to become darker until it exfoliates off.
As with any laser, there is some heat involved. To me, it feels like a soft rubber band pop. We also couple the treatment with topical numbing cream and cold air flow. In our office, we use an additional device called a Zimmer which blows a cool 32 degrees onto the treated area simultaneously with the laser. The cold airflow acts as a form of anesthesia making the treatment more comfortable.
There is no downtime with this procedure, you only need to expect that your dark age spots and freckles actually become darker. Depending on the treatment area, the time it takes to exfoliate may take anywhere between one week and three weeks. For example, the face heals extremely quickly and pigment should fade within one week. The further you move down the body, the longer it takes for the pigment to fade.
All laser treatments are customized to fit the need of patient depending on skin type and severity of the pigmentation. One typically needs 3-5 treatments with each treatment spaced four to six weeks apart.
Since the laser picks up pigment, it is important to be at your natural skin tone during your treatment. Because it is safer to perform the treatment on your natural skin tone, so we don’t pick up your normal pigment, we recommend treatments during the fall and winter. It is extremely important to avoid sun exposure before, during, and after treatment and it is even more important to not have any artificial tanners on the skin as well.
Not only is a BBL treatment corrective, but it is also preventative. Yes, it is actually anti-aging.
Prevention is key. Since freckles come from the sun and are damaged skin, the easiest way to maintain your results is to wear a daily sunscreen.