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Ask Our Expert: Brown Spots: Are they sun damage or just age spots?

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

Ask Our Expert: Brown Spots:

 Q: Roxanne, I have brown spots on my face, arms and chest.  How do I know if they are caused from sun damage or if they are just age spots?

A: Lentigos, or lentigines are commonly referred to as brown spots, sun spots, liver spots or age spots.  They appear as flat spots in various shades of brown that appear on skin that has been over exposed to the sun. These spots can appear on the face, arms, shoulders, neck, chest, hands; anywhere the skin has been over-exposed to the sun. Typically, the lighter the skin and the more sun exposure one has, the greater accumulation or chance of accumulation of sun spots.

Melanocytes, which are cells that produce pigment in the skin are activated to produce more pigment (melanin) when you are exposed to ultraviolet rays. Because the symptoms of excessive sun damage are cumulative, these spots increase with age, hence the term “age spots.” They are more common in lighter skin types (Fitzpatrick 1-3), such as those who freckle and who burn easily but can appear in any skin type.

I recommend applying a medical-grade, physical sunblock such as Physical Defense by Castillo MD Skin Science, 365 days per year, to all skin that will be exposed.  Not only is this your best defense for future sun damage but  you may find that the brown spots that you have become lighter over time.

There are  treatments that can help to rid your skin of brown spots as well. CO2 Micro-Fractional Laser Resurfacing is typically an excellent option.  A series of Intense Pulse Light (IPL) treatments can also deliver very good  results.  Some chemical peels  can improve spots to some degree as well as skin bleaching or lightening agents like Advanced Lightening Complex or Spot Light. 

While sun spots themselves are not cancerous, if you have had enough lifetime sun exposure to develop brown spots, this may place you at a higher risk of developing skin cancer.  Therefore, it’s a good idea have your physician examine them for changes from time to time.

Warmly,

Roxanne Grace Hammond
Skincare & Laser Specialist
G. D. Castillo, M.D.
COSMETIC PLASTIC SURGERY http://www.cosmeticplasticsurgery.com

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800-252-7123 (within IL)
217-359-7508 Savoy (Champaign-Urbana)
309-662-0436 Bloomington

 

The Characteristics of Beautiful Skin

Saturday, May 5th, 2018

While sitting in a small room in a Champaign office recently, I over-heard an elated young lady boasting about the beautiful diamond she received over the holiday. Her gushing excitement was infectious. I found myself feeling almost as excited as she, yet I couldn’t even see the diamond!

I then began to wonder “what it is that makes diamonds or other precious gems for that matter generate that type of admiration.” I would guess most of us regard diamonds as a thing of beauty… but why? What specifically is it that makes girls go gaga over diamonds? Is it the number of carats? Could it be the shape of the stone that is so enchanting?

To me, it is the clarity and color of the stone. I would much prefer a petite diamond with such superior color and clarity that it shimmers and dances in the light, and highlights every curve and contour, to a cloudy, three carat diamond that lacks life and luster. Would you agree? Now, don’t get me wrong. I am absolutely a fan of big rocks. I’m not trying to fool anyone here. Size does matter! It just falls short without superior color and clarity.

So why am I even talking about diamonds in a skincare blog?

Well, the characteristics that make a diamond sparkle and radiate beauty are very similar to the characteristics of beautiful skin. I mean is there anyone out there who would not be flattered to have their skin compared to a radiant, flawless diamond? Just as clarity and color are mandatory characteristics of a beautiful diamond, clarity and color are also key factors in creating beautiful skin.

Achieving superior skin color means that your skin is free of brown spots, freckles, redness, broken vessels and melasma. Skin clarity refers to skin that is free of rough texture, flakes, dull skin, large pores, acne, keratoses and moles. Superior color and clarity can be achieved through treatments such as traditional CO2 Full Face Laser Resurfacing , CO2 Micro-Fractional Laser Resurfacing, IPL, medical grade bleaching agents such as Castillo MD Skin Science  Advanced Skin Lightening Complex or Spot Light, medical microdermabrasion, chemical peels and medical grade skincare products.

I would say that most people who are bothered by facial aging are focused on wrinkles. When they look in the mirror, they see an aging face with a custom set of lines and wrinkles that have formed after years of abuse, mainly by sun exposure, and other factors. However, most often, removing wrinkles is only half the battle. It is the brown spots, broken vessels, rough texture and dull, flaking skin that create a less youthful appearance.

The concept of color and clarity is an important concept to understand. One must realize that if you treat only the lines and wrinkles of an aging face whether it be though a facelift, forehead lift, fat grafting, Botox or dermal filler such as Restylane Lift,  you are likely to find yourself feeling more like cubic zirconium than the real thing.

Here’s to wishing you the kind of admiration only superior color and clarity can generate.

DSC_0040Roxanne Hammond, RMA
Skincare and Laser Specialist
G. D. Castillo, M.D.
COSMETIC PLASTIC SURGERY

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800-252-7123 (within IL)
217-359-7508 Savoy (Champaign-Urbana)
309-662-0436 Bloomington

Say Goodbye to Chest Lines, Wrinkles and Brown Spots!

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

 

Roxanne performs CO2 Micro-Fractional Laser Resurfacing to remove lines and brown spots of the chest.

I was speaking with a patient of Dr. Castillo’s during a skin rejuvenation consultation.  She explained to me that a few years back she had breast enhancement surgery (implants) in Dr. Castillo. C and that she couldn’t be happier with her results and the entire Cosmetic Plastic Surgery experience.

However, she has some fine lines and wrinkles on her chest between her breasts along with a moderate amount of brown spots. She expressed that she would like to show off her new cleavage without being embarrassed about having wrinkles between her new, perky breasts.  She asked if Dr. Castillo offered skin treatments to remove the wrinkles and brown spots from the chest in his skin Rejuvenation and Laser Suite.

I explained to her that the vertical lines and brown spots she was describing are common among those who have been over-exposed to the sun. The sun breaks down elastin and collagen,  creating lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin around the chest.  It also causes melanocytes (pigmented cells that create brown spots she is seeing on her chest) to over-populate the surface of the skin in attempt to protect itself from damaging UV radiation.

I explained to her that yes, we can help with her chest lines and brown spots.  To improve the look of her damaged skin, first, she would need to begin to protect her décolletage using medical grade broad-spectrum sunscreen 365 days per year.  UV radiation will create more severe damage to areas such as the chest, neck and hands. The characteristics of the skin of the chest, neck and hands simply cannot tolerate the same amount of UV radiation as the face. The skin of the chest is not as forgiving as skin surfaces such as the face when it is repeatedly over-exposed to the sun. The skin of the chest is thinner, containing less elastin / collagen.  As the elastin is broken down, lines, wrinkles and sagging of the skin WILL occur.

Unlike the face, skin of décolletage does not contain an abundance of oil glands.  Why is this a problem?  Having an abundance of oil glands is important because as oil glands cells divide, they can become almost any other type of epidermal cell.  Therefore, when cells get damaged, they provide new cells to help to restore your damaged skin.

The good news is there are a few ways to correct or at least improve the skin of your chest.

  1.  First, and most importantly, PROTECT your chest for the sun.  Use a medical-grade, broad-spectrum, physical sunscreen  every day of the year. I recommend one of two  physical sunscreens:  Sun Defense or Prime Defense By Castillo MD Skin Science.  Both have high percentages of physical block ingredients (Titanium Dioxide and / or Zinc Oxide) making them superior  choices for sun protection.
  2. Avoid tanning beds as UVA rays will only create more damage to your skin.
  3. Use UV protective clothing and a wide brimmed hat to provide additional protection.
  4. Consult G.D. Castillo M.D. or another Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon regarding the following treatment options:
    1. CO2 Micro-Fractional Laser Resurfacing – This will decrease the lines of your chest (décolletage) while building collagen within the treated skin.  It will also make a significant improvement to the texture of your skin and decrease or remove your brown spots or discoloration. More than one treatment may be necessary due to the delicate state of the chest skin.  Did you notice that I highlighted, underlined and italicized the “CO2” in CO2 Micro-Fractional Laser Resurfacing?  That is because CO2 is the key there!! CO2 Micro-Fractional Laser Resurfacing far surpasses other non-CO2 laser technology using a “similar” name such as “fractional” or “Fraxel”… https://www.cosmeticplasticsurgery.com/cosmetic-surgery/laser-skin-rejuvenation.cfm
    2. Medical Microdermabrasion – Multiple microdermabrasion treatments https://www.cosmeticplasticsurgery.com/cosmetic-surgery/skin-resurfacing.cfm will soften the appearance of your chest lines and lighten the brown spots over time.  Be aware that this treatment will not build collagen, provide tightening or remove the lines and wrinkles on your chest.  It is meant only to brighten the skin by removing the build-up of dead skin cells.
    3. Medical Grade skincare products – There are effective medical grades skincare products created to specifically treat the chest area.  These products will not solve your problem alone but work well to support and prolong the effects of the above mentioned treatments. Medical grade means that they are of a higher strength and must be over seen by a physician therefor these are not your average over-the-counter disappointments.

Zap ya later,

DSC_0475G. D. Castillo, M.D.
COSMETIC PLASTIC SURGERY  https://www.cosmeticplasticsurgery.comLIKE US OR RECOMMEND US ON FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/DrCastilloCosmeticPlasticSurgery
800-252-7123 (within IL)
217-359-7508 Savoy (Champaign-Urbana)
309-662-0436 Bloomington

COSMETIC MEDICINE AND TECHNOLOGY – WHO SERVES WHO?

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

“I know the next gift we should get Mom and Dad,” I overhear my son say to his sister, “a new microwave!”

“Hey, what’s the matter with my microwave?”  I ask.

“Look at it,” he answers, “it’s old and the new ones aren’t so big.”

“Yes, but it still works just fine,” I say.  And it does – it really does…

I take a long hard look at the glorified bottle-warmer that was a gift from my husband following the birth of our first child, and I have to laugh.  It’s outlasted two dishwashers, two refrigerators and at least one washing machine.  Yet, I still have no intention of getting rid of it.  Don’t get me wrong; I don’t emotionally bond with kitchen appliances!  But, it’s in good shape and inflates a popcorn bag as well as a new one.  I know that its days may be numbered, but it’s been reliable and hasn’t been improved upon for the purposes I need.   Why change something just for the sake of change itself?

The perception that newer is better is a fairly common one.  We receive a lot of calls from people wanting to know if Cosmetic Plastic Surgery, G. D. Castillo, MD offers the latest “this” or “that” generated by frenzied media hype akin to the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week.”  The focused advertising promises made often exceed the actual peer-reviewed realities – it’s the cart before the horse concept that has been tripping up consumers for years and cosmetic patients are definitely targeted elective medical consumers.

Our patients know that Dr. Castillo’s standards are far too high to succumb to a newer version of existing technology hyped into popularity by mere advertising instead of surviving peer review and producing improved, successful, reliable results.   Eek-gads!  Do you remember Endermologie?

Something enjoying the latest media buzz doesn’t necessarily make it better for our patients and certainly DOES NOT make it more affordable – in fact, when it comes to cost, that may be just the opposite! If it’s not better than what’s already working and it’s not more affordable, how can it be in the best interest of our patients?  Obviously, it’s not – the simple truth is that a cosmetic patient does not benefit from re-inventing the wheel.

Just because something is new doesn’t automatically make it improved.  Example:  tumescent liposuction is still the gold standard in removing excess adipose tissue (fatty deposits) period.  Ultrasound is sometimes used in addition to the tumescent technique, not instead of, to assist the surgeon in obtaining the smooth contour our patients deserve (liposculpture).  This tried and true gold standard gives wonderful results, is peer-proven and has the lowest complication rate with limited downtime.  So, why would a physician interested in giving the best result with the fewest possible complications change until something offers improvement? Wouldn’t you agree that improved results and patient satisfaction should be the driving force for any technological advance?

Don’t get me wrong, Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Skin Rejuvenation and Laser Institute does offer the most scientifically advanced, peer-reviewed and proven technologies that are advantageous to our patients.  The key wording here is peer-reviewed and proven – a must for consistent best end results!

An excellent example is the Micro fractional CO2 laser that offers one treatment (as opposed to 4 or 5), with as little as 4-days downtime and incredible results!  Imagine!  A scaled back form of surgical laser resurfacing with the results you’ve been hoping for with only an extended weekend of downtime – fabulous!  Affordable, you ask?  Hmmm…a full facial treatment at approximately $2,000.00 instead of 4-5 treatments of Fraxel at an average of $1,500.00 each…I’ll let you do the math, but just let me say you could have had the big gun in skin resurfacing…surgical full facial laser C02 by the time you’ve paid for those 4-5 treatments.

Are you aware that G.  D. Castillo, MD investigates the emerging technologies exhaustively, and if proven to be advantageous and cost-effective for his patients, he does add to the existing lineup of beneficial treatments offered at Cosmetic Plastic Surgery.  Micro Fractional CO2 is just one example of this and Dr. Castillo was one of the first twelve in the United States to offer it.  He also helped to set the parameters for this exciting minimally invasive technological improvement.

Lasers are expensive – very expensive, and not every medical practice owns the laser that they are operating.  I, personally, have no desire to be on the front end of the learning curve when it comes to laser anything.  Both familiarity with the medical equipment and procedural experience weigh in heavily when it comes to a good laser result.  There are sound reasons why we at Cosmetic Plastic Surgery neither rent nor transport the laser technologies offered within our facilities.

I’m so fortunate to work for G. D. Castillo, MD.  Obviously, I believe in him as a surgeon (how could I not?) and Cosmetic Plastic Surgery, Skin Rejuvenation and Laser Institute is a top-notch medical facility.

No, Dr. Castillo doesn’t jump on the media’s bandwagon – he believes that when it comes to his patients, technology should serve their needs, not the other way around.

Patient & Office Coordinator for

G. D. Castillo, MD, FACS

Cosmetic Plastic Surgery, Skin

Rejuvenation & Laser Institute

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https://www.cosmeticplasticsurgery.com

800-252-7123 (within IL)

217-359-7508 Savoy (Champaign-Urbana)

309-662-0436 Bloomington