Liver Spots & Curettage

What do we know about liver spots other than that they are unpleasant to look at? Liver spots, also known as solar lentigo or age spots, occur as a result of prolonged exposure to the sun and/or UV radiation.  While liver spots were once mistakenly thought to be related to liver functions, in actuality, they occur most often in areas where the sun hits: the back of the hands, forehead, shoulders, and face.

While most age spots occur in persons over forty years, it is not uncommon to find liver spots on younger people. They often appear tan or light brown in color and of an oval shape. For the most part, liver spots are harmless but if you notice changes in occurring that causes worry, go to a doctor for a diagnosis. Liver spots are for the most part preventable if one follows a few basic steps.

Firstly, keep out of the sun, particularly during the hottest parts of the day which typically occurs during the mid-morning and the mid-afternoon. Secondly, if you must go out, wear protective clothing, that is, long-sleeved shirts and blouses, long plants, hats and scarves. There is also specially made clothing with ultraviolet protection factor (UPF). Thirdly, and most importantly, always use sunscreen with an SPF factor of 30 or more, applying it at least half hour before going out, reapplying generously at regular intervals. Should these precautions fail, there are treatments available. Most persons opt to apply topical creams and lotions often with bleaching qualities to reduce the look of the spots. One method of treatment, not as often used, is curettage.

Curettage is a medical procedure which involves the use of an instrument, called a curette (the French word for scoop) which is scoop or hoe shaped instrument, approximately the size of a scalpel which may be either blunt or sharp. The curette is used to remove tissue by scraping or scooping the lining of a body cavity, primarily of foreign matter, to remove tumors or other diseased tissue, or simply to obtain a sample of tissue for diagnosis.

Treatment for liver spots using curettage involves numbing the skin with a local anesthetic, followed by the scraping of the blemishes. Gentle scarring or burning using heated instruments is called cautery. In cases where the spots appear abnormal or if there is a slight suspicion, a tissue sample is sent to the lab for examination, to determine whether or not melanoma is present.

Admittedly, this is not a widely used treatment for liver spots as they are not generally considered serious or malignant. However, it is an option for those whom alternative treatments do not work. Consider carefully before choosing curettage as an option for removing liver spots.

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