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Lip spots are a concerning condition for our patients. Patients with dark spots tell us that they feel like their lips are dirty and that friends or family ask where the spots came from. Regardless of how they developed, they make patients self-conscious. Luckily, we have an excellent solution for getting rid of lip spots.
Lip spots are usually nothing more than sun damage. They often appear on patients that have a medium or darker skin tone. One of the few locations on the body that are susceptible to sun exposure and sun damage on darker skin types is the bottom lip. Because of the pink color and the position relative to the sun, it is one of the places where sun spots can develop. Alternatively, the spots may develop in response to a condition called Peutz-Jeghers syndrome or the darkening can accompany activities like vaping or smoking.
Why did I get lip spots?
While the appearance of sun spots on your lips may have you worried, we can tell you that they are usually just the result of too much sun and a hereditary tendency towards developing them. The lips are one of the few areas that get sun protection. Even when we are careful to put sunscreen or sun protection on the face and body, the lips normally are not protected. This makes them more vulnerable to sun exposure and the development of sun spots. Although not researched, we believe that lip spots have a genetic component and also that they can be caused or made worse with heat from vaping or smoking.
Lasers are perfectly suited to remove lips spots. Specifically, the Q-switched YAG laser. It is a device that targets dark pigmentation. A sun spot, or even discoloration caused by smoking or genetics is an aggregation of darker melanocytes, which are the cells that color the skin. The light from a q-switched laser is highly absorbed by these cells and when treated, they form a very light scab or crust and then fall off. In some cases, the laser treatments can remove the spots permanently and in other cases, retreatment may be required. Q-switched YAG laser treatment of lip spots is an easy, quick, and safe procedure for anyone affected, no matter how dark your skin type. Best of all, there is no downtime! Most people see improvement after just a single treatment.
After your treatment, you have a bit of flaking or peeling, but there’s no downtime. While most people see improvement after one treatment, many people will require up to three treatment sessions to completely get rid of sun spots on their lips. Since the recovery is quick and the post-procedure care is simply the application of SPF to protect the new, healing tissue, almost anyone with this problem is a candidate for treatment.
How many treatments does it take to remove sun spots?
Although much or most of the discoloration can be removed in one treatment, lip spots often require repeat visits, either to remove them at the beginning of the treatment process or to keep them at bay in maintenance. It’s not clear to us why lip spots recur after removal as age spots that we treat on the rest of the face are gone permanently after laser treatment. Most of our patients come in yearly for maintenance treatment.
For some patients, the removal of lip spots is permanent, but for many it is not. We have not been able to determine why facial age spots can be removed permanently while lip spots recur much more frequently.
We have not had any side effects when treating lip spots. We use q-switched lasers and the most common side effect with this type of laser is a blister, which would heal very easily on the lips if it did occur.
The healing process after laser removal of brown spots on the lips is very easy. The spots will typically darken for the first several days and then at some time between 4-7 days, little pieces of skin so small that you can’t notice will peel off revealing a cleaner, pinker appearance.
Our patients that have lip spot removal are almost universally pleased with their results. The clearance is very consistent and lips that once looked dark and blotchy look pink and clear after treatment.
Peutz-Jeghers syndrome is a disease of the digestive system where polyps form primarily on the small or large intestine. One of the telltale signs that a person has Peutz-Jeghers syndrome is the dark brown spots it causes on the mucous membranes including the lips. Q-switched laser treatments are one way to control the very dark spots that occur from this condition.
Don’t live with the embarrassment and hassle of unwanted brown spots on your lips. After laser treatment, you won’t need to cover them with lipstick and makeup. Please give us a call today to schedule!