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Ask Our Expert: Are My Brown Spots 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)

 

Fat Transplantation : Could It Be Right For You?

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Fat Transplantation has become a very popular and intriguing topic over the past few months. More and more patients enter our office with questions about whether or not fat transplantation may be a solution for their volume loss and signs of aging.  Media coverage has also exploded onto this topic, touting it as a “new” and successful procedure.

The media is correct. In the hands of an experienced cosmetic plastic surgeon, we are indeed seeing a nice, long lasting result for those who have lost volume in areas such as the face, and breast.  However, this procedure is hardly new to those physicians on the leading edge in a cosmetic surgery practice.  In fact, fat transplantation has been in high use for decades as it parallels the beginning of liposuction.  I have been utilizing fat transplantation in my practice since the 1980’s.

So, why has the media suddenly taken interest in this procedure? The interest and notoriety of procedures is a little bit like that of celebrities-it comes and goes, has peaks and valleys and is likely related to news media events that are highly popular.  Such is the current interest in fat transplantation. The primary reason for the resurgence of interest in fat transplantation has to do with changes in technique.  With a slightly better understanding of stem cell research and years of technique evolution, this procedure continues to be refined.

In the beginning, fat transplantation was done by placing moderate to large amounts of fat into different areas of the body.  The results were okay, that is, there was some fat that survived this rudimentary method of transplantation; however, the results were not consistent enough to be able to accomplish wide acceptance by both physicians and patients.

In the late 90’s, popularization of fat transplantation in the medical literature in general and cosmetic surgery in particular revolved around the idea that for fat transplantation to be successful the fat needed to be placed in very small amounts in multiple areas.  That meant that fat needed to be injected with instruments that created very little bleeding. Therefore, we used blunt cannulas for the injections.  The fat needed to be placed in very minute amounts into many areas, and so there was the development of a technique whereby multiple passes were created in one area, depositing very small amounts of fat in each one of those passes.  This resulted in a more successful and consistent outcomes for all experienced practitioners.

Today, some questions still remain, like “Does the fat need to be prepared prior to the injection or not?”  This question is still to be resolved in the future.  Most practitioners today will harvest fat from a common area, mainly stomach and/or thighs, will  prepare it by centrifuge at low speed, that is, it will be placed in rotation separating the serum from the fat.  Once this is accomplished, the serum is discarded.  The fat is placed into very small syringes and then injected as soon as possible.  While the fat can be under deep freeze and injected in the future, it is much more effective; that is the rate of “take” is much higher, when the fat is injected immediately.

One needs to place a lot of fat in the area to be remodeled because approximately 70% of the fat will be reabsorbed by the body and only 30% of the fat will take and be part of the graft.  Fat is primarily used to fill out areas of the body and face by taking fat from an area that has excess, preparing it and utilizing it to fill out areas that need volume or rejuvenation. Fat transplantation is most commonly used to create a more shapely body region such as the buttocks or breasts.  Fat is extremely useful in filling the contours of the face that deflate with age.  Such facial areas may be deflated, sagging cheeks, corners of the mouth, lips, or smile lines. It’s most successful in removing divots, depressions and over a period of time, successful in remodeling wrinkling.

More recently, studies are showing that there seems to be an effect from fat transplantation, which is beyond filling depressed areas. Fat contains stem cells, which are primary cells that are able to regenerate tissue.  These studies indicate that when fat is placed underneath the skin, it can remodel the skin, reversing signs of aging and creating a more uniform result.

Because the fat is grafted using the patient’s own fat, the risk of allergic reaction is eliminated. Fat transplantation is done both under local anesthesia and under sedation or general anesthesia.  Patients can expect bruising and swelling for 7-10 days, and patients can expect to return back to work in  7-10 days.  While to some people this may be a new procedure, it has been part of the arsenal of procedures that the plastic and cosmetic surgeon has had at his or her disposal for over 25 years.  We are very encouraged by advances made with this procedure over the years, as it is a reliable and cost effective option for our patients.

G.D. Castillo M.D., Fat Transplantation Expert

G. D. Castillo, M.D.
COSMETIC PLASTIC SURGERY

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800-252-7123 (within IL)
217-359-7508 Savoy (Champaign-Urbana)