Freckle or Age Spot?

Facial plastic surgeon in Orlando discusses the difference between freckles and age spots.

Here in Orlando, we practically invented the sun-kissed look. A healthy tan or a light dusting of freckles are signs of time well spent soaking up our year-round sunshine at the area’s beautiful lakes, golf courses, and nearby beaches. Men and women in Florida and all over the world have long celebrated the youthful summer glow, and today’s trends are no different. Recently, a photography series showing the “undeniable beauty of freckles” went viral on social media. Women without freckles are even trying them on for size using makeup techniques and faux freckle tattoos.

It’s true: Freckles are beautiful. But when living in a warm climate, it’s important to understand that not all spots are good. In fact, some could be signs that you’re taking your fun in the sun a little too far and actually damaging your skin. As a facial plastic surgeon in Orlando, I frequently meet patients who are curious about the difference between freckles and their not-so-welcome counterpart, age spots.

What is a freckle?

A freckle is a small spot on the skin that appears when exposure to sunlight causes the buildup of melanin, the pigment that gives our skin and hair their color. While freckles can pop up on various skin types, they’re more commonly visible on people who have fair skin. Both children and adults can have freckles, and they often darken with sun exposure. Freckles are harmless, although they could signal your skin’s overall sensitivity to sun exposure. If you have freckles, take that as an extra reminder to wear your sunscreen.

What is an age spot?

Unlike freckles, age spots (sometimes called liver spots or sun spots) are typically seen in older adults, because they are signs of melanin buildup from long-term sun exposure. They come in various shapes and sizes and are typically larger than freckles. While also harmless, they can add years to your appearance. For this reason, many men and women in Orlando choose to have their sun spots treated.

If you suspect you are showing signs of sun damage or early aging, the good news is you have some wonderful options available to restore a youthful appearance. Here are 2 options I recommend to my patients in the Orlando area.

  • Schedule a VISIA® Complexion Analysis. Canfield’s innovative UV photography system allows me to do a complete sun damage analysis. I can snap high-quality images of your face to map your spots and wrinkles and detect uneven texture, enlarged pores, and red areas. Using this information, I can provide a detailed analysis of the condition of your skin as well as develop targeted treatment programs that are tracked over time with side-by-side comparisons.
  • Cynosure Icon™ IPL laser: The Icon laser is one of my favorite methods to treat sun damage, skin discoloration, and rosacea. This customizable system delivers low-intensity light energy directly to the skin, destroying pigmented and damaged skin cells and boosting the production of healthy cells. The treatment takes less than 30 minutes, and you won’t need to set aside any downtime. In the 2 weeks following treatment, a more even and clear skin tone is revealed.



Sometimes changes in your skin, such as new or darkening spots, can be a sign of something serious, like skin cancer. Be sure to schedule regular skin checks and tell your doctor about any recent changes. If you would like to make an appointment for a skin analysis, contact our office online.

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