Living With Age Spots
- Monday, 30 April 2012
I’ve always admitted to being vain. I got that way from my mom. It’s embarrassing. I remember a time very close to the end of her life when she was well into her 90s. She was in the hospital and I was sitting by her bedside. And she kept looking at me and finally said, “You’re so beautiful. Look at me, how old and wrinkled I look.” It was a nice compliment to me, but it showed how she still cared about how she looked at that age. I said that I was sure to look like her some day – just that I had a few more years to go. And how right I was. Nevertheless, I still pay my various caregivers to help me look young and reduce the effects of exposure to the sun: I have a dermatologist, a facial lady, various cosmetics counter consultants, and oh yes, a dermatologist who specializes in laser procedures.
The Follies of Youth
I certainly didn’t know growing up that going to the beach every day during the summer and greasing up with oil and iodine to get the most effects from the sun’s rays were remotely harmful. Even in the 1970s when we lived on an island in the South Pacific very close to the Equator I had no knowledge of the benefits of sunscreen. In fact, I don’t even think sunscreen existed then. My adult son still suffers the effects of sun exposure from those island years. He had huge freckles removed from his nose when he was a child, and in the last few years he’s had several precancerous moles removed from his back.
Vanity - At What Price?
Okay. I’ll admit it right up front. I had a facelift and my eyes done right after my fiftieth birthday. I was getting my mother’s jowls so I thought I needed a little tightening. Since I was still young enough not to need too much work, the doctor said it would make me look rested. He was right. I looked rested. Even now almost twenty-two years later, I still show some good effects from it. But I have no desire to do it again. Instead I get regular Botox injections and I’m always looking for ways to get rid of those pesky brown age spots.
I’ve tried so many different products – Kinerase, Glytone with 4% hydroquinone, lotions containing Vitamin C, prescription-strength retinal – and various other commercial and organic products that are supposed to lighten skin discolorations. Nothing seems to work. Also, on top of everything I use, I slather my face with sun block daily to protect it from the sun. I add a wide-brimmed hat when I take my walks to the beach.
Laser Age-Spot Removal
A few years ago I even resorted to a laser age-spot removal treatment called Photofacial – a fifteen minute treatment of laser zaps that felt like sharp knife points going all over my face accompanied by the flashing of high intensity lights.
While the treatment was going on, I began to think: laser age spot removal or water boarding, water boarding or age spot removal? Needless to say, I’ve never experienced water boarding, but just having the thought gives you an idea how bad it felt. It was not only the pain of the zap, but the constant flashing of high intensity light that came along with the zaps. I had little goggles on over my eyes, but they barely cut out any of the rays. I definitely felt like I was in a torture chamber, and I was in it at my own choosing.
Almost immediately after this first treatment was over, I knew I would not go back for the remaining three to six treatments – at $300 a pop – the doctor recommended for the best results. The pain and discomfort are just not worth it. I'll just have to be happy with concealers or with whatever new products my facial expert comes up with. There is absolutely no reason for someone my age to go through that kind of torture.
At My Age, It’s Time to Stop Already
Even my husband asked the more important question regarding my laser zapping experience – why at my age would I even care if I have a few brown spots on my face? Yes, that is the crux of the matter. Though I’m not too old to care, I need to stop trying to look younger than my age. Of course, I’ll never be too old to keep my face moisturized and out of the sun, but going through painful procedures to erase the ravages of age is totally ridiculous. All I have do is learn not be so vain and learn to live with the face I have now.
Madeline Sharples is an author, poet and self-confessed exercise junkie. She described herself as a “fat kid” who has spent her whole life staying healthy and in shape and has no intention of stopping now.
Madeline’s stories and articles have appeared online and in print. She recently published her memoir, Leaving The Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living With Her Son’s Bipolar and Surviving His Suicide (Lucky Press LLC 2011). She co-authored Blue-Collar Women: Trailblazing Women Take on Men-Only Jobs (New Horizon Press, 1994) a book about women in non- traditional professions and co-edited the poetry anthology, The Great American Poetry Show, Volumes 1 (Muse Media, 2004) and 2 (2010). Her poetry accompanies the work of photographer Paul Blieden in The Emerging Goddess and Intimacy and appears in several print and online publications.