Thursday, September 10, 2015

Healthy Habits: Brown Spot 101 - Topical Vs. Laser Treatment

With summer winding down, and people becoming more cognizant of all their sun and brown spots forming, Dr. Julia Tzu of Wall Street Dermatology has put together "Brown Spot 101."  

The skincare market is filled with creams that promise to fade discoloration and brown spots.
Just how effective are these creams and is it worth spending the time and money for these products?
Despite the myriad of brands and creams available on the market, there are only a few ingredients that are considered mainstream for fading brown discoloration. Hydroquinone, also available in a weaker over-the-counter formulation, is the most effective ingredient prescribed by dermatologists to fade darker discoloration. Although considered more effective than other mainstream ingredients such as azelaic acid or vitamin C, hydroquinone’s efficacy is still limited and results are variable. Furthermore, hydroquinone can have a potentially undesired effect of irreversible darkening if used for a prolonged period of time.
The problem with topical treatment for discoloration is that there is a reliance of the cream or lotion to penetrate through the skin and reach only the areas in which the discoloration exists. In reality, there is limited penetration of the formulation and no selective targeting of the discolored areas. Hence, the results of using topical formulas to treat discoloration have been variable.
Advances in laser technology has allowed for a scientifically targeted approach in dealing with skin discoloration. Specific pigment lasers have the capability to selectively eliminate the darker skin cells and spare the normal skin cells. This translates into an effective and scientifically elegant way to remove brown spots in one or several treatment sessions without the uncertainty of whether and when a cream will be able to fade a brown spot.
It is critical to ensure that the operator of the laser device has a profound understanding of the biophysical interactions between skin and laser energy.
People who undergo laser treatment for brown spots should avoid sun exposure before and after treatment for best results. Hence, Autumn marks the season when most people begin laser brown spot removal.

Dr.Tzu is a double board certified dermatologist and specializes in cosmetic dermatology, Mohs surgery (for skin cancer), reconstructive skin surgery, and laser surgery.  She is one of very few dermatologists in the world, and the only one in Manhattan, who has devoted additional years of formalized fellowship training in both Mohs surgery as well as dermatopathology, making her amongst the most highly trained and elite dermatologists.  Dr. Tzu is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, the American College of Mohs Surgery, and the Women’s Dermatologic Society.

 Dr. Tzu also has an app, Intelligent Skin MD, which combines real-time environmental data with the user's personal information to generate highly customized and responsive skincare recommendations.  For more information, please visit:

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