TREATMENT PROTOCOL FOR
By Traci Norton, Instructor at National Laser Institute
Step 1: Begin with a chemical peel. Chemical peels
are a great way to begin the treatment of sun
spots. Some of the best peels for this condition are
Jessner’s, TCA and salicylic acid peels.
Step 2: Add a light-based treatment. This should
be a photofacial or a fractionalized laser
procedure, depending on the client’s skin type.
A photofacial treatment is great for lighter skin
types; a fractionalized laser (1540 nm) treatment
works well for all skin types.
Step 3: Alternate treatments bi-weekly. Alternate
between chemical peel and light-based
treatments every 2–3 weeks. This will help reach
the pigment in different ways. Chemical peels
help to shed the outer layer of skin, aiding in the
sloughing of the pigmentation. Photofacials or
fractionalized lasers will help reach the pigment
deeper in the skin. The light also stimulates the
skin’s natural healing response, which breaks up
Step 4: Include topical products. During this
process, it is very important to use a lightening
product, such as a 4% hydroquinone, which is
a concentration that requires a prescription.
This product will help keep the sun spots in a
dormant stage. Damaged cells have memory, so
even after you have a series of treatments, these
spots could return if you are not using a product
to slow the development of melanin.
You should also alternate between
hydroquinone and nonhydroquinone products
every few months. If you treat spots solely
with hydroquinone, the melanin may become
accustomed to the treatment.
Step 5: Set up a schedule for maintenance. When
treating irregular pigmentation, do chemical peel
maintenance treatments every 6–8 weeks. Also,
1–2 light-based treatments per year will help to
keep the skin bright and free of those pesky
Step 6: Emphasize the importance of sun
protection. A quality sunscreen is very important
in the treatment and prevention of sun spots and
other sun damage.
By getting an up-close view of the skin, you may
see marks on a client that have gone unnoticed. If
you identify irregular pigmented marks that look
suspicious, refer the client to a medical professional
for further examination. However, if your clients have
cosmetic concerns about benign sun damage, this is
where you can help!
A number of procedures can be used to fade sun
spots—also called age spots and solar lentigines.
There are also treatments that can help reduce the
appearance of wrinkles and soften leathery-looking
skin. The following information can help you
determine the best service—or combination of
services—on a case-by-case basis.
HOW SUN DAMAGE OCCURS
The culprit behind most extrinsic, or externally
caused, aging is ultraviolet (UV) radiation from
the sun. UV radiation is invisible to the naked eye,
but definitely impacts the skin in multiple ways. To
understand the full effect of UV radiation, it’s best to
break it up into two subcategories: UVA and UVB.
UVA rays are long-wave solar rays that are able to
penetrate the skin’s epidermal and dermal layers. They
are main cause of sun spots, wrinkles and leathery skin—
symptoms that are collectively known as photoaging.
UVB rays are primarily responsible for damaging the
epidermis and producing a sunburn or reddening effect
on the skin. Scientists have long believed that UVB rays
play the main role in the development of skin cancer but,
in recent years, they have discovered that UVA rays play a
significant role, too.
When the sun hits the skin, melanocytes (cells
that produce melanin) move to the skin’s surface
as a self-defense mechanism. However, it is a myth
that getting a tan will protect your skin from further
damage. The extra melanin in tanned skin produces
an SPF of 2 or 4, which is much lower than the
recommended SPF 30. Throughout time, repeated sun
exposure can result in hyperpigmentation that causes
your clients to feel self-conscious about their skin.
Professional skin care treatments can help remove
the skin’s damaged outer layers to diminish sun
spots and encourage
the growth of new,