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Signs of Aging: Hyperpigmentation and Dark Spots

Have you recently looked in the mirror and asked yourself, “Where did all of these dark spots come from? Last time I looked, they weren’t there…were they?” Unfortunately, hyperpigmentation and dark spots come along with the other aging challenges.

If your skin is doing what it was made to do, then it’s going to suffer from:

  • Scars
  • Wrinkles
  • Dark spots

But, why? Unless you cover yourself from head to foot or stay indoors all the time, then your skin is regularly exposed to the sun’s rays. Those rays contain UV rays, which can cause skin damage and even cancer. But it’s not just sun damage that can bring on dark spots and hyperpigmentation; there are a whole host of other factors that can cause them too, so let’s take a look.

Pigmentation 101

When we use the term hyperpigmentation, we are talking about a condition that causes your skin to increase in pigment or darken. Hyperpigmentation can impact patches of your skin or your entire body.

Dark spots like age spots or liver spots are common hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation is usually a cosmetic issue rather than a medical one. However, there are times that it is not harmless if caused by an underlying medical condition.

  • Pigmentation: the natural coloring of plant or animal tissue. In this case, it is the color of your skin.
  • Melanin: the pigment responsible for your skin’s color
  • Skin pigmentation disorders: These disorders cause changes to your skin color.

Skin Pigmentation Causes

As mentioned earlier, sun damage is the most common cause of skin pigmentation. This type of damage usually impacts the body parts that are most frequently exposed to the sun.

Dark spots caused by sun damage can be prevented or controlled by using an effective sunscreen as part of their skincare routine. Sunscreen protects the skin and stops the darkening of existing hyperpigmentation, preventing more UV damage from occurring.

Choose a sunscreen that:

  • Has an SPF of 30+
  • Is water-resistant
  • Protects against UVA and UVB rays

Hormonal changes during pregnancy or menopause are also a common cause of hyperpigmentation. Dark spots caused by hormonal changes are not always avoidable. However, discoloration may fade over time once the cause is removed.

For example, if you get dark spots while pregnant, they will likely disappear after the pregnancy is over. Melasma, however, can be stubborn, as it is a deeper form of hyperpigmentation that can occur due to hormonal changes. Even if melasma fades, it can come back when exposed to the sun.

Topical and oral medications can cause or worsen hyperpigmentation, so be sure to check the warning labels on your medicines to see if hyperpigmentation is a side effect. If it is, talk with your doctor about the best course of action.

Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Skin damage from the following can also cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH):

  • Bites, cuts, and burns
  • Acne
  • Excessive or incorrect hair removal techniques
  • Harsh skincare products
  • Ingrown hairs
  • Scarring from psoriasis or other skin conditions

If you have PIH as a result of acne, treatment should focus on fading discoloration and preventing acne and acne scarring.

When Should I See a Provider or Skin Specialist

If over-the-counter or home remedies are not providing the results you want, then it’s time to see a provider or skin specialist. Hyperpigmentation is not the only cause of dark spots on your face, so you must visit a provider if you notice changes in existing moles or dark spots, such as:

  • Texture
  • Size
  • Shape
  • Color

Treating Hyperpigmentation

The best course of treatment depends on the cause of your hyperpigmentation.

For example, if your dark spots or hyperpigmentation is a side effect of a medication you are taking, then you will need to:

  • Work with your provider
  • Stop taking the medication
  • Find an alternative medication that will not cause hyperpigmentation

If an underlying medical condition causes your hyperpigmentation, then the underlying condition needs to be addressed and treated. The American Association of Dermatologists states that once you remove the cause of the hyperpigmentation, existing spots should fade in 6 to 12 months.

However, very dark spots may take longer than this to fade or may not fade at all. If hyperpigmentation is caused by factors like aging or sun damage and your provider is not concerned about an underlying condition, then there are several medical treatments that can fade or remove it. Here are three of our favorites.


HydraFacial is a safe and gentle – yet powerful and effective – skin refreshing and resurfacing treatment that harnesses the power of H2O to deliver revolutionary “hydra-dermabrasion.” The Hydrafacial uses a patented spiraling Vortex-Fusion delivery system to exfoliate, extract and hydrate skin simultaneously. The proprietary vacuum technology dislodges and removes impurities, while customized serums deliver hydration and nutrition to the skin cells.

PRP Facial

Hollywood celebrities have made the PRP Facial famous for its astounding ability to reverse the signs of aging and resurface the skin. PRP uses the concentrated growth factors in your own blood to naturally stimulate increased production of collagen & elastin, which are the building blocks of:

  • Smooth skin
  • Clear and youthful skin
  • Healthy skin

As the skin repairs itself, your own blood:

  • Smoothes wrinkles and lines
  • Improves tightness and elasticity
  • Reduces discolorations

Nordlys Laser Treatment

Nordlys laser treatment is a minimally invasive way to eliminate hyperpigmentation, including:

  • Dark spots
  • Age spots
  • Sunspots
  • Liver spots
  • Lentigines
  • Freckles
  • Discoloration due to:
    • Aging
    • Sun damage
    • Scarring

The safe and gentle yet very powerful, Nordlys laser has been FDA-approved to treat skin imperfections since the 1990s. The Nordlys laser offers the advantage of reducing pigmentation and dark spots with minimal discomfort and very little downtime, compared to more ablative lasers that burn off the top layer of the epidermis.

In addition to minimizing discolorations, the Nordlys laser also stimulates your skin’s production of elastin and collagen, repairing your skin at the cellular level. As a result, your skin continues to thicken and become more smooth, elastic, & healthy.

We Can Help

Are you ready to look in the mirror and see a more youthful, beautiful you? Contact us for a consultation!