6 Ways to Remove Sunspots from Your Face

Written by Fareesa Sandoval, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on September 4, 2019 No Comments

sunspot treatments

Sunspots (or solar lentinges) are flat brown spots that result from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, either from the sun or the use of tanning beds. Sunspots can vary in both size and shape. They develop after UV radiation spurs an overproduction of pigment (melanin) in melanocytes, which becomes concentrated in a single area of the skin.

Anyone can develop sunspots since we accumulate increased levels of UV exposure over the years. However, sunspots are most prevalent in fair-skinned individuals over the age of 40.

Sunspots can occur on any area of the skin that is frequently exposed to the sun. While they can form along the hands, neck, arms, and legs, the most common area patients seek to treat is the face. There are several professional treatments that can reduce the appearance of sunspots.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

IPL treatments use precise amounts of visible light (IPL is ‘intense pulsed light’) to effectively treat sunspots. This treatment targets specific wavelengths of laser light to heat and destroy melanin. IPL treatments are quick, relatively painless, and require no downtime.

Laser Skin Resurfacing

Skin resurfacing laser treatments use wavelengths of intense laser light to remove sunspots  layer by layer. The controlled damage caused through laser resurfacing promotes the growth of new, healthy and youthful appearing skin. There are several laser resurfacing options including Fraxel, ActiveFX, and Clear + Brilliant.

Cosmelan Mask Skin Lightening System

The Cosmelan Skin Lightening System is a non-invasive treatment with the ability to peel away various types of pigmentation including sunspots from the surface of the skin.  A professional-strength mask is applied in the office by a skin care professional which stays on the skin for 8-12 hours, depending on the skin type of the patient. This is followed by the at home use of a product called Cosmelan 2 that continues the peeling and exfoliating process at a lower grade and can be used long-term.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are topically applied acid solutions that revitalize the skin surface by creating an even and controlled shedding of the skin cells. This process peels off skin layers affected by sunspots to reveal the pigment-free layers underneath. There are several different types of chemical peels which differ in strength. Keep in mind that professional peels are more effective at treating sunspots as they are more powerful compared to at-home peels, which are generally superficial.


Microdermabrasion is a minimally invasive treatment that uses physical exfoliation methods to remove sunspots (along with the outermost layer of skin). A special applicator with an abrasive tip is used to slough off skin. The applicator then uses suction to remove the exfoliated skin as it is shed.


Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to freeze sunspots, causing their molecular destruction. The freezing results in a peeling off of the heavily pigmented layers. Cryotherapy can cause temporary blistering and scabbing in the treatment area, and should be used with caution as it can sometimes cause hypopigmentation (create a lighter area compared to normal skin color) or even worsen the sunspots if used in the wrong skin type.

Fareesa Sandoval, MD

Dr. Sandoval is Board Certified by the American Board of Dermatology and is a member of the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS), the American Academy of Dermatology, the Dermatology Foundation, the Texas Medical Association, and the Travis County Medical Society. Dr. Sandoval’s interests include adult and pediatric medical dermatology, skin cancer management, and cosmetic dermatology.

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