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Sun Spots


Solar lentigines, better known as sunspots, can appear on parts of the body that have been exposed to years of fun in the sun. Fortunately, these flat brown spots and patches can be removed with a light-based device called an IPL® (intense pulsed light). Age spots, liver spots, freckles and other benign pigmented skin lesions that result from sun damage can also be classified as sunspots. IPL® therapy can remove these surface discolorations virtually anywhere on the body, but are most often removed from the face, arms, hands, chest, and back. Located in Los Altos, Mittelman Plastic Surgery, led by board-certified facial plastic surgeon Harry Mittelman, MD, offers IPL® therapy for the treatment of sun spots for the residents in and around San Jose, Palo Alto and the surrounding communities of California.


Sunspots, also known as liver or age spots, are harmless discolorations on the surface of the skin that are circular and sometimes irregular in shape. They can be small or large in size, and unlikefreckles, the hyperpigmentation doesn’t fade or darken as the seasons change. Sunspots affect people with fair skin more frequently than people with darker skin. However, darker skin people and people who tan easily are still susceptible to this condition.

Although aging is one of the main factors that influences the formation of sun spots or liver spots, they have little do with age and can still affect younger people who spend a significant amount of time in the sun. Sunspots develop gradually over time as excess melanin (pigment) accumulates when the skin is overexposed to sunlight. This is why sunspots first appear on the face, hands, shoulders, arms and other areas that have more lifetime exposure to the sun. Therefore, avoiding the sun or protecting the skin when exposed to sunlight is the best way to prevent sunspots.

Sunspots do not cause any health concerns. However, they can prematurely age and detract from the overall appearance of the skin, which is why many sufferers seek treatment. Sun and age spots are not cancerous, but they can be similar in appearance to some cancerous skin growths. Therefore, it’s important that you report the appearance of multiple pigmented skin lesions to Dr. Mittelman for examination.


Hyperpigmented spots or lesions can appear on the skin for a variety of reasons, including heredity, the natural aging process, hormonal changes due to certain medications and years of excess sun exposure. The development of brown spots on the skin is nothing more than a harmless, excessive concentration of skin pigment cells or melanin. High melanin concentrations can occur on the outer layer of the skin, also known as the epidermis, or deep beyond the skin’s surface, also known as the dermis. Sunspots can vary in appearance from person to person, and multiple spots can even take on different shapes and sizes on the same person, so it’s important to address them with a personalized treatment plan.


All brown discolorations that appear on the skin aren’t created equal, and different types require customized treatment.

Melasma occurs when blotchy, uneven brown spots appear on the face and chest, and the condition is often the result of sun damage, pregnancy, menopause and hormonal changes due to oral contraceptives.

Age spots are a natural result of the aging process after years of overexposure to the sun. These small, irregular spots can appear on the face, arms and back of the hands, the legs and any other part of the body that’s exposed to the sun.

Trauma to the skin from acne, rashes such as psoriasis and eczema, and thermal or chemical damage can cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which can lead to the formation of brown spots. For some people, the discoloration will fade over time, but for others, it can remain and even darken long after the damage to the skin heals.


Intense Pulsed Light (IPL®) therapy is the most common and successful method for removing sunspots. This procedure uses pulses of light to penetrate and diffuse excess melanin in the lower layers of the skin without affecting or damaging the skin’s surface. IPL® is non-ablative and non-invasive, making it one of the safest and most effective solutions for sunspots and other forms of hyperpigmentation.


Unlike single target laser treatments, IPL® therapy can treat and improve a variety of skin imperfections and disorders. The procedure gives the skin a brighter, more youthful appearance by diminishing uneven areas of discoloration,such as sunspots and age marks. By delivering various wavelengths of light simultaneously, the IPL® device can be adjusted to treat larger areas that are affected by multiple conditions and skin imperfections.


Dr. Mittelman will apply protective eyewear before the procedure begins. A cooling gel will be applied to the treatment site, and the doctor will then apply the surface of the IPL® wand to the skin, moving it across the treatment area while releasing short pulses of light. Each pulse will brighten and disperse pigmented spots and sun damage on the face/neck, arms, legs, and chest. The procedure is relatively painless, with most patients likening the pulse of the IPL® device to the snap of a rubber band.


IPL® treatment sessions generally do not require topical anesthetics, and they tend to last for no more than 15 to 30 minutes. You may feel slight discomfort following the procedure and experience mild redness, similar to a sunburn, for a couple of hours. Pigmented spots across the treatment site may become darker and eventually fade and peel off over several weeks. While a single IPL® treatment session can deliver noticeable results, a course of at least four treatments at four-week intervals may be required to achieve the desired results.


Sun avoidance is the ideal way to prevent the formation of sunspots. When sun exposure cannot be limited, you should always wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher when outdoors.


The cost of treatment for age spots varies based upon the extent of your procedure and your current skin condition. Feel free to discuss financing options in order to make your treatment more affordable.

Harry Mittelman, MD, is recognized as a pioneer in facial plastic surgery. As a board-certified facial plastic surgeon, specializing in both surgical and non-surgical or non-invasive cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery procedures, Dr. Mittelman provides his patients with exceptional skills and results that last. For more information on treatment for sun spots or to schedule a private consultation at Dr. Mittelman’s office, please contact us today.We serve the entire Southbay and Bay Area including Los Altos, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Redwood City, Mountain View, San Mateo, San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and the surrounding areas.

Read Our Reviews

“I have been going to Dr. Mittelman for various procedures since 1999. He is personable, easy to talk to and absolutely sane about what to do and when. I appreciate his calm advice as much as i do his surgical skills, which are_the best_ A special note about the staff – they are considerate and…”

Hank B.

“I had my upper eyelids done by Dr. Mittelman. I was expecting improvement, but I think the results are fabulous. Dr. Mittelman and I talked a lot about what I was hoping to get out of the surgery and what he thought was possible. I had some wrinkles and heavy “hooding” that made me look…”

Mary S.

“Over the years I have had different procedures done by Dr. Mittelman. I prefer to have the smaller surgeries as I go along the way, they are less invasive and provide more natural results. Dr. Mittelman has delivered excellence in professionalism each and every single time. H is an excellent plastic surgeon, more like a…”

Jaqueline D.

“Dr. Mittelman, the master of administering BOTOX with fabulous results! His staff is super friendly and their office is extremely diligent in providing a safe, sterile, and clean environment, particularly during these unprecedented times – COVID-19”

KM from Monte Sereno

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