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Alternative namesSun-induced skin changes - liver spots; Senile lentigines; Lentigos; Skin spots - aging; Age spots
Liver spots are flat brown-black spots that usually occur in sun-exposed areas of the body. They are also called age spots. They are unrelated to the liver or liver function.
Causes, incidence, and risk factorsLiver spots are changes in skin color associated with older skin. The increased pigmentation may be brought on by aging, exposure to sun or other forms of ultraviolet light, or other unknown causes.
Liver spots are extremely common after 40 years old. They occur most often on the backs of the hands, on the forearms, shoulder, face, and forehead. These are the areas of highest sun exposure.
They are harmless and painless, but they may affect the cosmetic appearance. Occasionally, liver spots may mask the diagnosis of skin cancers.
Signs and testsA diagnosis is based on the appearance of the skin, especially if the patient is over 40 and has had a lot of sun exposure over the years.
TreatmentNo treatment is needed in most cases. The cosmetic appearance of your skin may be improved by the use of skin bleaching lotions or creams. Cryotherapy (freezing) or laser treatment may be recommended to destroy the liver spots.
Expectations (prognosis)Liver spots are not medically dangerous. They are permanent skin changes that may affect cosmetic appearance.
ComplicationsA possible complication is emotional distress from the appearance of the liver spots.
Calling your health care providerCall for an appointment with your health care provider if liver spots are present and removal is desired, or if any new symptoms develop, particularly changes in the appearance of any skin lesion .
Protect your skin from the sun by taking the following precautions:
Update Date: 4/17/2003Michael Lehrer, M.D., Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT