What are liver or age spots?

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Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

So it’s probably time to retire the name “liver spots” since these marks have nothing to do with your liver. The brown-colored, flat patches are technically called lentigines. (Sounds like a lentil in jeans!) Lentigines are not freckles or moles, but they are benign (not cancerous), darkly pigmented patches that typically show up as you age. In fact, you may have heard the patches referred to as “age spots.” They can pop up almost anywhere on your body.

 

The most common type, solar lentigines, are on your hands and face, and whatever skin has been exposed to lots of ultraviolet (UV) rays. The presence of solar lentigines means you probably spent too much time sunbathing (or tanning in a salon), or frolicking on the beach without sunscreen on. And that’s a major risk factor for melanoma, a deadly type of skin cancer. If you aren’t sure if your brown spots are harmless, have a dermatologist take a closer look.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Liver or age spots, officially known as lentigines, are more common in people with thin skin. Despite the name, these discolorations are not related to the liver, and instead develop as the result of sun exposure accumulated during your lifetime. Typically, liver spots are harmless. But, if you're uncertain about a certain blemish, you might want to consult a doctor to be sure it's not something more serious.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.