My Freckle / Age Spot Laser Removal Experience

*Warning*: pictures of a little blood and open wound if you are the queasy type.

I also don’t need to hear stuff about “you are fine the way you are” and “it’s unnecessary” because it is my choice to do what I want with myself!

 

 

About a month ago, a friend of mine told me he was going to get laser spot removal on his hands and face. He said he had already done it before and was going back to get a few more done.

I had never been bothered much about my freckles/age spots until recently, as I seem to be getting more with age and sun exposure T_T I normally would not do something this ‘major’ without some research beforehand, but since he said he was a returning customer, and since I tend to recklessly trust word of mouth from friends, I decided to just jump into it and tag along.

 

Foreword

Before I start, let me clarify that 1) I am not a professional in this area. I am only sharing my experience and researched information. 2) I did it in Korea, and your own country may have slightly different procedures.

 

My Freckle / Age Spot Laser Removal Experience

The moment my friend pointed out the clinic, I breathed a small sigh of relief — it was a very nice and prestigious looking clinic I had seen before. I was afraid he’d bring me to some small, dingy 피부과 (dermatologist clinic).

The clinic I went to is called Dr. Skin. It’s located in 원주 (Wonju) which is about 1.5 hours away from Seoul and where I am currently employed and living. Here is the clinic website and a map. However, if you do some research or check out a decent looking 피부과 in Korea, I’m sure the procedure will not differ drastically (but prestigious areas in Seoul may charge more). In Korean, spot/freckle removal is called 점빼기.

The girls at the counter took our names and had us wait about 10 minutes. They spoke absolutely no English at all, or made no attempt to.

I noticed as I was waiting that they did a bunch of other cosmetic procedures and surgeries — removing eye fat (does this make sense? It’s quite commonly mentioned in Korea!), heightening the nose, reshaping the jaws, etc.

We were called into the doctor’s office one at a time. I insisted my friend sit in on my consultation because I wanted to make sure I get the same prices and procedure as him. The doctor spoke quite decent English (you will find the younger generations of doctors in Korea tend to).

I asked the doctor what the spots on my face were — freckles or age spots (I was obviously hoping I would not be associated with the word ‘age’). He said freckles are numerous concentrated spots on the face, and since mine are less and more spread out, they are just age spots T_T He told me age spots are caused by the sun, genetics, and age.

I often heard that after removal, age spots will come back either in the same spot or elsewhere. He said this is not true. The removal is permanent and will not come back.

Research online tells me that this is generally true, and people who claim they come back either 1) had a light / gentle removal (low laser settings requiring 3-4 removal sessions) that did not entirely remove the pigmentation or 2) had age spots return because of sun exposure or natural skin process (as in, new age spots would’ve continued to develop regardless of whether they had removal before or not).

He said after removal, the spot will look red for about a week, then brown for 2 (ish?) more weeks. The scar will not completely heal until 3-6 months later. I didn’t know at the time, but basically, just think of how a popped pimple will healbleeds at first, is red for a few days, forms a brown scab, then leaves a scar for 1-3 months (and yes, I’m sure everyone has popped a pimple before!)

He told me each spot removal would cost 10,000 won (about $9 USD). This is quite cheap compared to what I’d probably have to pay in North America. I decided to have two on the right side of my face below my eyes, removed. If it turned out well, I’d go back for more.

Mind you, all of the information he ‘told’ me were actually brief answers to my questions. If I had not asked him anything, he probably would’ve went right ahead after I pointed the spots out.

Korean doctors tend not to be very ceremonious or explanatory. Don’t expect them to tell you any of the risks, side effects, how the procedure works, how to treat the wound, etc. Make sure you ask about every single detail before you leave that office.

When it was my turn, I laid down on a reclining chair (like at the dentist). He confirmed the two spots by touching them on my face. I said they were the right ones. He cleaned the spots with alcohol and shot two local anesthetic shots on the two spots. It was a bit scary having needles injected into my face, but it was fast and not that painful (I have pretty high pain tolerance though).

I closed my eyes as he did the removal. He ‘shot’ each spot with laser (it could’ve been ‘light’ from IPL, I’m not sure) 4-5 times. I could not feel anything, but I could smell burning as I heard crackling and popping noises.

When he was done, the assistant girls put a small circle sticker on each of the spots and I left.

The whole process took about 5 minutes.

I paid 20,000won ($18 USD). As my friend was paying, I realized he had no stickers on his hand, while I did on my face. He thought maybe the stickers on the face were for cosmetic reasons to cover the red wounds. I was actually a bit horrified to see the wounds on his hands, because they were pretty much slightly bleeding red craters.

I was worried because he told me I’d still be able to go into work like normal the next day. I asked the receptionist girls when I can take my sticker off (hoping they would say immediately when I get home so I can go into work normally) but they said to keep it on for a week!

They gave me more of the circle stickers to change onto the wounds. I found it incredulous I can let such bleeding facial wounds heel with mere stickers, and insisted there must be something I can put on it to treat it. They said any ‘healing’ cream would do, and I insisted again they recommend one to me to purchase at the pharmacy downstairs. They wrote me the name of a cream and we left.

I bought the cream at the pharmacy for $2.5 USD. (It’s in Korea, so no pictures!)

 

Pictures and Results

age spot laser removal experience in Korea, 점빼기

I hadn’t been planning to blog about this until after the removal, so this is the only HD camera closeup pictures of my skin before the procedure.

I know it doesn’t look like much but I’m actually wearing foundation in this picture already. You can still see the two spots because I didn’t realize just how HD the camera really is!

This also goes to show that the spots are a real pain to cover up, because I have to dot concealer with a tiny brush on it every single morning to completely hide them.

The lighter one near my eye is probably an age spot, but the slightly bumpy one beside my nose is more of a tiny mole and has been there, I think, since I was young.

 

age spot laser removal experience in Korea, 점빼기

I didn’t take the stickers off on Day 1 as I was instructed not to.

After I took the stickers off on Day 2, there was slight bleeding, which I cleaned up with a q-tip and applied the healing cream. I had the stickers on my face all the time, even when I was in bed or at work. I was instructed to use it for a week, but I stopped using it on Day 5 as I wanted to save the stickers. However, I continued applying the healing cream on it until it was no longer red.

I was able to start using makeup to cover the scar on after Day 7. I broke out with a pimple near the area, but it was at ‘the time of the month’ where I broke out the most, so I don’t think it was because of the removal.

age spot laser removal experience in Korea, 점빼기

These were the ‘circle sticker’ I had left over. They didn’t actually give me very many. They worked absolute wonders to heal the scar, and I found out they do the same for acne wounds. I bought similar patches in my recent samples haul and will review them soon.

age spot laser removal experience in Korea

I took this picture just yesterday. I didn’t bother pointing out where the scars are, because if I didn’t, would you really even notice?

The age spot under my eye healed pretty much perfectly. I can’t even tell where it is in the picture.

The tiny mole (?) beside my nose is still healing with a scar. I expected this though because the wound to remove the mole was much bigger than the age spot, so it will probably take longer to heal. I expect it will probably be unnoticeable by the 3rd month.

 

Types of Skin Pigmentation Removal

There are many different kinds of skin pigmentation removal — at home skin whitening products, liquid nitrogen, laser (ex: KTP), IPL (Intense Pulsed Light, a.k.a Photofacial). I’m not going to go into the scientific and details because I don’t know enough about it, but most of the age spot removal treatments work fundamentally the same, they are removing or damaging the top layer of skin to get to the fresh skin underneath.

Different procedures have different cost range, effects, healing time, effectiveness, etc. Nowadays, IPL seems to be the most popular as it is more gentle on the skin, has shorter healing time, and also rejuvenating effects.

It was actually really hard to find unbiased information and personal experiences because the search results were dominated mostly by advertisements. Realself.com was a good cosmetic treatment customer review site.

I found a lot of treatment types, but none that matched my own experience exactly, and even until now, I’m not 100% sure which procedure I had done (because my doctor did not speak great English and it didn’t occur to me to ask at the time). I urge you to do your own research and consult a few doctors before you consider any of these procedures yourself.

 

Conclusion and Personal Thoughts

After doing some reading and online research, my guess is that I got a concentrated and high level form of IPL.

IPL is often done all over the face, over 3-4 sessions, for those with number and/or large freckles, age spots and pigmentation on their face, neck, or hands. The entire area will be red, with certain spots especially wounded and bleeding more than others. I suspect the red areas are for rejuvenating purposes (collagen stimulation) and small bleeding wounds are for removing darker age spots where the light was shot at a higher frequency (hence deeper wound to remove spots). I suspect I received the latter procedure as the only other personal experience I read that had local spot removal (instead of all over the face) AND burning smell was an IPL procedure (read here). Also, my removal was done over one session only.

I am happy with the results and am planning to go back for removal of spots on the side of my face again. However, I cannot be sure that the spots won’t ‘return’ or ‘grow in another spot’. I already said that research online told me this does not happen with effective and sufficiently ‘deep’ removal, but I was only able to find most of my information off of advertisement/promotion websites.

I heard it comes back from so many friends that I will allow myself to remain somewhat skeptical about the long-term results. However, for less than $10 per spot, I’m happy if they stay away for even 1-2 years.

When I do go back or if the spots do return, I will write again on my blog!

 

 

Is anyone else considering this procedure, or know anyone that has done it already? Please share — I really want to hear more personal experiences to compare with my own, especially prices!

19 Responses to “My Freckle / Age Spot Laser Removal Experience”

  1. i want to try that spot patch thinggy hmm i just wonder where i can find them
    worked so well on you :D

  2. Hum~~ before laiser, u try some acids? Retinol or other? But after all, laiser is better and expensive way for this spots…

    • I didn’t because I hadn’t even planned to remove them. I just did it cuz my friend was going and said the laser was great and not that expensive (I think $9 USD per spot is not that bad. Could be a lot more!)

      I also read acids/whitening is not the best way because it doesn’t focus on the spot you want, and can whiten the area of the skin around the spot.

  3. I think your experience was a success. The spots have pretty much disappeared! Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Those circle stickers are amazing, right? I have a few boxes of those which I got when I went back to Malaysia a year ago. It’s so good for pimples!

    As for the procedure to remove the eyelid fat, I’m not sure if it’s the same, but I heard about it on a Taiwanese programme. I think for some eyes, the upper lid is quite fatty, so it droops and makes the eyes really hooded (slightly different from most mono-lidders). Removing some fat would make the eyes look more alert. I Think that was what the celebs said, can’t remember tbh

    • You’ve tried them too! Do they only sell those circle stickers in Asia? It seems to be that way, cuz I don’t see them in normal drugstores in Vancouver.

      It’s probably the same and sounds right about the eyelid fat. It’s really funny you should point it out because after I saw the clinic offered it, I was actually considering it, because I think my eyes are a bit like that. I actually have double eyelids but you can’t tell in those close up photos! I kind of feel like I might be doing too much on my face as well. I mean, removing spots is one thing, but removing fat also means slightly changing the shape of my face… but that’s the most I would ever do. Not sure yet!!

      And Joey, I just realized a while ago I think I didn’t reply your email yet! Will get on it soon!!

      • Re the circle stickers, I really do think so. I can’t find them here in the UK. Asia is more advanced in the beauty industry, me thinks.

        I dunno about the eyelid thing because it sounds a bit risky to me (I know all surgery has risks) just because it’s the eyes, ya know? Also, I don’t know if it really works. Thing is, if one were to get eyelid fat removed anyway, why not just get double-eyelid surgery? I think that would be a safer bet in terms of definitely getting brighter eyes. But then again, Xiaxue’s second eyelid surgery didn’t go that well and didn’t make a difference so I really dunno.
        I think my eyes are like yours, that’s why I can’t be bothered with eye make up because it doesn’t show since my eyes are hooded haha

        Haha don’t worry abou the email, hun! xx

        • I also think Asians are just a lot more obsessed about their looks? =p

          Yeah, it’s true, but I was thinking since it’s just removing some fat, it should be okay? I wouldn’t do it without doing some good long research first though (which I haven’t done yet!).

          Well, it might not sound the same but I don’t really want to get any like… face shape changing surgery? and under my own standards, I guess I don’t count fat removal as one but double-eye lid is one. Also, I actually have double eyelids, but it’s hard to tell in photos T_T lol. It’s just quite thin and I’m pretty happy with it. I don’t want it bigger cuz some Korean girls who go too much with their eyelid surgery just looks honestly so obviously like they’ve done surgery.

          It’s funny you mention Xiaxue because I had no idea who she was until just a short while ago — and that was cuz I was watching her plastic nose surgery youtube videos! It was amazing to me that someone could talk about it so openly! haha.

          But you know, I really think that whatever eyes you have — whether monolid or double or hooded double like us, we can still work eye make up really well on our eyes! You just eventually find a way after playing around w/ the makeup what flatters your own eyes the most. It’s like how all shapes and sizes of bodies can still be fashionable and look good in clothes.

  4. Hi, I’ve got that laser spot removal 4 days ago. I’ve been living in Korea for 1 month and I’ve decided to have that. Actually I got many spots on my face (about 10 or sth).
    Actually, there was nobody who can speak english in that hospital. So I couldn’t ask anything and didn’t have any advice from doctor. Doctor gave me piece of instruction paper. On there, there are 2 ways.
    First, I can put circle sticker on the wound and I can wash my face and have make up.Second, i can put some healing cream until wounds get cover (rivet). Then I can have make up and wash my face with water. Then that cover will come out, then wound will be ok completely. I’ve decided to try second option.
    I have to go to my work tomorrow. But I got so many brown spots on my face. And I dun know is it ok if I wash my face or not, and make up is ok or not? all my wounds are hard and they’ve got rivet. On the picture below, on the 4th day it looks almost ok. But mine looks completely different. It’s too obvious that I got that laser removal. Many big brown spots on my face. Tomorrow I have very important meeting and first impression is very important, u know.
    Please give me some advice. What should I do now? I’ll appreciate so much if give your thought and advicec

    • First, let me say I am not a professional. I can only try to give you some advice based on my own experience. If you feel like your scars are not healing properly or may be infected, then I advise you contact a professional.

      By brown spots, do you mean scabs? My friend who had them done on his hands also had lots of brown scab spots. He didn’t use the circle stickers either, nor did he apply cream afterwards (though of course, they applied it for him right after the removal). He let his hands heal naturally. Just think of it as if you scratched your hand, your laser removal spot will heal about the same way, because all the doctor did is basically take off the top layer of your skin (where the pigmentation is). So, it’s best not to expose it to water too often, but you can wash your face with water, but I would avoid rubbing the spot with a towel or cleanser. I really highly advise you not to put makeup on an open wound, if you want it to heal properly. If you have dry scabs on your face, and no open, bleeding, or wet wounds, then it’s ok to put makeup over the scar if you really have to.

      If you have been using the cream regularly as the doctor advised, then my guess is you should be okay. Just watch out for your skin and make sure there is no infection, pus, or secretion coming from it. I was told that using the sticker, it is supposed to heal in a week.

      I used the sticker on my wound and changed it everyday. Before changing it, I would put the healing cream on it and let it ‘breath’ for a few hours before putting the sticker on. I washed my face as I told you above — with water but no cleanser on the spot. I only washed my face that way once a day. I had no complications and my face healed fine.

      To be honest, I think it would’ve been better if you went for the circle stickers in the first place. They are designed to cover, protect, and prevent infection of your wounds. I also felt like it helped my wounds heal a lot faster, smoothly, and without scabbing compared to my friend who didn’t use it on his hands. Next time if you get the removal done again, I really recommend the circle stickers. I still use them all the time for acne spots.

      I really hope that helped and that you will have a quick recovery.

  5. Oooh! I finally caught up with this entry!
    Girl! How old are you!? Age Spot!?
    You gotta be kidding me!
    Argh~~~
    Anywayz, wow, no wonder Korea is like one of the leading (if not, the leadest? LOL) country in Cosmetic Surgery!
    That’s quite a sucess you’ve got there!
    The one near ur eyes healed wonderously~
    So when I see you in a year or 2, your face will be spotless!?
    Hahahahah!

    • haha thanks for catching up~

      and age spots are not about just age, it’s sun exposure, genetics, and color of skin — so the more sun and paler you are, the more easy to get age spots.

      dude korea is the best for any cosmetic surgeries!! do some when you get here! =p haha ok i know ur paranoid about your natural-ness. I’m just joking =p

      my face will probably never be spotless cuz I’m constantly exposed to the sun and not always wearing sunscreen =p

  6. Nice entry! :)

    A few questions, or rather some clarifications :P

    You washed your face with the stickers on the spots and used cleanser on everywhere except the spots right? Was a bit confused with that part .. hehe :)

    • I definitely did not (and was told not to) remove them on Day 1 because I was afraid bacteria from water exposure can cause inflammation.

      After about day 3, I started washing my face with cleanser WITH the sticker, then after rinsing the cleanser off, I took the stickers off to rinse my face again with water. However, I never touched the spots, just let water over it.

      The doctor didn’t really tell me what to do in much detail, and I thought it was a bit gross to keep that part of the skin unexposed and unwashed for so long.

      • Ah :) Thanks for clarification. I went for a similar, if not the same process myself shortly after my initial post/qn but only checked back today. My post-procedure care stuff was the same as what you did, more or less it seems.

        I was given a ‘healing cream’ which is basically Vit E concentrate, no stickers thou. But I bought the stickers on my own. Had the zaps done by my regular facial asthetician at a beauty salon here in SG. (the types that gives facials and non-dermatologist accredited treatments like Diamond Peel and such) She showed me the machine and all. Its basically a box, with buttons and dials and the electrical cable (obviously lol) to connect for power. The other thingamagy that connects to this box is a handheld pen-like stick, which shoots out the ‘laser’.

        However, after it all ‘healed’, my spots did not lighten (lol). Perhaps mine were more stubborn. I was advised to go for another round but I really hated the burning smells and post-procedure discomfort. Its really not expensive here. Slightly less than 8USD is what I paid per spot.

        I do have high pain threshold but cannot stand ‘open wounds’, my policy is to avoid open wounds as much as possible. Considering going to an actual derma for a non-concentrated version of this, spread over a few sessions and about x10 times the price too. Or even the same procedure – I would feel better if it is performed by an actual skin doctor instead of just a facial asthetician…

        Anyways. If I have to deal with open wounds, or ‘peeling’… perhaps those ‘intensive’ whole face neck shoulder type of ‘peels’ .. :PWe will see. Its just 3 spots, not terribly obvious but you know. Blemishes. Eeks.

        • First off, thank you for your detailed description! I think it will help others who stop by this post as well.

          Where did you buy your sticker in SG? Just wondering because many readers have told me they could not find it in their own country.

          It seems like we got the exact same procedure. Mine was also done with a pen thing attached by a cord to a machine.

          It’s really strange that your spots did not lighten. The spot near my eye has completely disappeared. I can’t even find a scar or anything for where it used to be. However, the very tiny mole I got removed did not completely disappear. It has now become a very tiny SPOT instead of a tiny mole. My suspicion is that the doctor tries his best to zap the whole mole, but it’s deeper than normal age spots so he might not have zapped it all out completely because what’s left of my mole is more like the corner outer ring. I think if I went back to get ride of the traces, it can be completely removed.

          Were your spots that did not lighten a freckle/spot or a bump/mole?

          I also would feel more comfortable doing mine with a doctor instead of an aesthetician.. I had mine done with a doctor who also did plastic surgery and such.

          I know what you mean about the face peel. It’s very popular in Korea. I have a friend who did it a few times and she said it helped with her acne problem. I personally cannot do something that dramatic because I’ve seen how some ppl look post procedure and it just freaks me out. It took a lot of courage for me to do just these spots… but if you do end up doing it, I’d love to know how it turned out for you!

          (and… the spots you had removed were blemishes??)

  7. Hi!
    First of all,i just want to tell you how thankful i am that i found this post.I came across this deal last weekhttp://www.ourdeal.com.au/deal/zara-skin-care-clinic-remove-blemishesThere are these marks left by the pimples i squeezed that have been there for a year!and i thought these cosmetic treatments are extremely expensive,so i bought this deal straight away. I got the $79 for 8 blemishes removed.after paying for the voucher,i started googling this clinic and found the most terrrible and dodgy reviews!check these out! http://www.yelp.com.au/biz/zara-skin-care-clinic-lane-covehttp://customerunderground.com/businesses/zara-skin-care-clinic-lane-coveyou can tell that the “positive” reviews are all done by one person with quite a messy grammar and are totally not legit.one of the “honest” reviews as u may call it,even said that the doctor,or whatever u call her, accidentally cut off a third of her eyebrow!i was soooo scared but i dont know what got into me,i took the risk!still can’t believe what i just did like 6hrs ago.just realised how dangerous it was :SAnyways, I thought the process was just a laser thingo and there’s no healing or marks left(like it says on the voucher pffttt bs marketing). I thought she was just gonna shot laser beams onto my blemishes and poof they’d be gone straight away!

    When I got in and she asked me to show her the spots, she seemed surprised and said they were soo small and sighed LOL. I pointed the spots to her and only the freckles caught her attention and she said she couldn’t remove other marks cos she said they were “pimples” (what???) anyways I wouldve been happy with just some of them gone just to reduce the burden of covering them with concealer everyday. She finalised the amount of spots she can remove and i think it was 6? (NB she didn’t speak english very well,i think she’s sweedish)

    The lady sprayed my right cheek, where i had about 6 brown spots, with something she called “numbing spray”. she told me to keep my eyes closed cos it can be very strong or whatever. It smelled a bit alcohol-ish. she left me lying down in the room for about 10minutes and came back in. She asked if i was ready n i said yes, all of the sudden, ZINGGGGG it felt like she just drilled my face! i smelled something burning and ohmygoddd my face didn’t feel very good. After(not even) 5 minutes, it was probably 2 minutes tops. She gave me a mirror and i was horrified at what she did to my face. there were red craters everywhere.ewww. Then she showed me the dark spots she removed on a sheet of tissue :S (seemed legit?)

    After that she gave me a tube of “Special Cream” which she charged me $10 for (I think it should’ve cost more, she MIGHT have charged me less since she could only remove 6spots) 

    She applied some of it on the fugly holes she implanted on my face and covered them with the patches u refer to as “stickers”, except hers came from a long roll which she cut into 3 blocks to cover up 3 areas of my face. she told me she was only putting them then cos they’re still “fresh” (again,her english was a bit weird LOL).

    she told me to put this on 3 times a day and that’s it’s important that my cleanser is “smell-free” and not to use perfume(errr perfume??on the cheeks???) she also told me not to touch them and that they will heal in 7 days. oh she also told me to wash my face tonight and put the cream on.

    i left the clinic,half crying and so embarrassed on my way home.

    when i got home and looked in the mirror, blood was coming out of three of the holes,underneath the patches!i was so scared and wondered if i made the right decision. then i came across your post and surprisingly, it’s the one and only article i can find that tells a customer’s experience.

    I just wanna ask something,not sure if you’re gonna reply since the last comment u replied to was from 8 months ago. What steps do i need to take in this healing process?(i dont really trust her LOL) i know you’re not a skin expert or anything,but i was just hoping for suggestions.

    i just used my cleansing foam very gently and wiped the water off my face by patting with a tissue gently. then i put the cream on. it was a bit hard since a bit of blood was still coming out of the scars :S 

    I normally perform the basic daily skin care routine (cleansing foam – toner – moisturiser – night cream) every night. tonight i only used cleansing foam on my whole face, and left the treated areas untouched after, while applying the toner and moisturisers to the rest of my face.

    the lady told me it’s not necessary to use the patches but from what u’ve posted, it seems the patches did wonders for u! i was gonna go down to the supermarket(i live in an apartment just above one) but was too embarrassed by the scars so im just sitting in my room right now just praying that the scars will disappear asap while typing all this stuff.

    phew, and that’s my story! i’m so sorry bout this long post, i’m just extremely scared, i only just turned 19 and i’ve got uni tomorrow and a party in 7days :S i can’t believe i did what i did.

    hope to hear from u soon!your post gave me hope!
    cheers

    Amelia

    • Amelia,

      Sorry this is a bit late, by now your face should have healed.

      The stickers really helped me a lot. It seems that you mostly want to know how I treated my spots, and although you should be healed now, for your future reference, I will paste you what I wrote on the blog post:

      “I didn’t take the stickers off on Day 1 as I was instructed not to.
      After I took the stickers off on Day 2, there was slight bleeding, which I cleaned up with a q-tip and applied the healing cream. I had the stickers on my face all the time, even when I was in bed or at work. I was instructed to use it for a week, but I stopped using it on Day 5 as I wanted to save the stickers. However, I continued applying the healing cream on it until it was no longer red.”

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