Skincare

Sun Spots, Cysts, and More Common Skin Issues Your Derm Can Likely Treat In 1 Visit

Woman with freckles

We live in a world of instant gratification. In less than an hour, we can have food ordered and delivered to our door, a new romantic interest to flirt with at the tip of our fingers, and a flawless manicure provided in the comfort of our own home. But in the world of skincare and medical aesthetics, some things do actually take more time. For instance, a chemical peel may require a few days of downtime, and we all know that some forms of acne can take years to get under control. However, a few bothersome skincare issues, including enlarged pores or cherry angiomas, can sometimes be helped in merely one session. We asked three dermatologists to dish on these treatments and all that they entail. Spoiler: most of these procedures are practically painless.

Editor's Note

As always, talk to your doctor before starting any new treatment, medication, or supplement.

The Issue: A Deep, Painful Cyst

Not only can cysts be a total pain to get rid of on your own — sometimes taking months to flatten — they can be exceptionally painful, even if you avoid touching them. Fortunately, this is something a dermatologist can likely take care of swiftly.

The Treatment: A quick shot of a corticosteroid and local anesthetic will help take the ouch out of that blasted cyst. “We’ll use an intralesional cortisone injection, which will calm the inflammation, swelling, and redness,” says Marnie Nussbaum, MD, a NYC-based board-certified dermatologist. “You’ll notice a significant difference in 48 [to 72] hours, though sometimes it can take up to a week to resolve. Fortunately, there [should] be no downtime.” Sometimes it’s covered by insurance, but check with your provider to be sure. If not, it costs an average of $100. Cortisone injections aren’t right for everyone, so consult with your healthcare provider to ensure this treatment suits your needs.

The Issue: Spider Veins & Varicose Veins

Spider veins are a frustrating issue that present as enlarged dark blue or red veins that you can see under your skin; when they bulge, they are referred to as varicose veins. Both typically appear in areas that undergo more strain or pressure, such as around the backs of your knees or around your ankles. They’re also prone to appearing during pregnancy.

The Treatment: Sclerotherapy is the most popular option and a simple, in-office procedure that can be administered without any need for anesthesia or numbing. “To treat, we inject a solution into the vein,” explains Morgan Rabach, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of LM Medical℠. “You will see the vein blanch [shortly after]. Spider veins usually disappear within three to six weeks, whereas varicose veins can take up to three or four months.  During that time, you should wear compression stockings and avoid working out — the former will help ensure the veins truly collapse and vanish, while the latter promotes faster healing. While the costs vary depending on the size and area being treated, it averages around $336 per treatment. Learn more about sclerotherapy here.

The Issue: Redness or Broken Blood Vessels on the Face

No, we’re not talking about a face that dramatically blushes after a flirty text — we’re referring to little broken capillaries that could get in the way of a flawless, makeup-free selfie. Broken blood vessels on the face are more commonly seen in people with rosacea or consistently reddened cheeks, notes Caren Campbell, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in San Francisco, California. Dr. Nussbaum says they may also present as redness around the nose.  

The Treatment: This condition is commonly (and quickly) treated using a pulsed dye laser known as VBeam®. “It’s a miracle worker for most things red, as it targets hemoglobin in the blood,” explains Dr. Campbell. “It takes about 10 minutes to treat, and no numbing is required,” although you can opt for it if you choose. The sensation of the laser is said to feel like the snapping of a rubber band, and overall causes little discomfort. You can expect minimal redness and swelling for 24 to 48 hours post-treatment.

That said, you’ll need to have a little more patience before you see results: Dr. Campbell notes that it usually takes three to four weeks for the vessels to completely disappear, because your body needs time to process and clear out the veins. (It’s also possible you might need more than one treatment for particularly stubborn ones.) You can expect to pay between $350 and $750 per treatment. Learn more about one writer’s experience treating her broken capillaries with VBeam here.

The Issue: Cherry Angiomas

They may sound serious, but they’re not — their presence is more irksome than anything else. Cherry angiomas are tiny, slightly raised benign growths that are bright red (hence their name). Even though they’re small, they tend to be noticeable because of their vibrant color. They usually appear mostly on the torso, but can crop up anywhere, and typically range in size from a pinpoint to a quarter of an inch in diameter. Dermatologists use a few different methods to remove them.

The Treatment: One of the speediest solutions for cherry angiomas is to literally burn them off (which sounds more painful than it actually is). “Providing the patient doesn’t have a pacemaker [or any other contraindication], the dermatologist can use what’s called a desiccator to burn [off] the lesion,” says Dr. Nussbaum. “The entire procedure lasts about 10 seconds and feels like a quick zap.” The spot will then appear as a tiny scab for a few days, which your provider will likely instruct you to cover with an emollient product, like Aquaphor®, as it heals.

Alternatively, Dr. Campbell notes that you can also ask your provider to treat your cherry angiomas with the aforementioned VBeam. In this instance, the procedure takes a few minutes, and the treated red spot can take a few weeks before fading completely.

The Issue: Dermatosis Papulosis Nigra 

These are similar to cherry angiomas, only they’re dark brown or black. They tend to be more common among people with skin of color, Dr. Rabach notes. Dermatosis papulosis nigra appear most frequently on the face, especially the cheekbones, but can also appear on the body. 

The Treatment: It’s similarly simple to get rid of these annoying dark spots. “It takes about 10 seconds to remove each little spot with a tool called a hyfrecator, which gently heats each spot,” explains Dr. Rabach. There is usually minimal discomfort during and after the procedure, though a local anesthetic can be used. “It takes several days for the spots to fall off, but once they do, then they are gone forever,” she adds.

The Issue: Small Sun Spots

These are not to be confused with the dermatosis papulosis nigra mentioned above — rather, they’re spots that appeared after years of sun exposure and damage. They can be found anywhere sun has touched your skin, but most frequently appear on the face, chest, and hands.

The Treatment: Chemical peels work wonders to improve overall skin texture and tone, and they can be used in a more precise fashion to target these tiny spots. “We apply an acid called TCA directly onto the spot, and it will take a week before it gently sheds off,” says Dr. Rabach. “The spot gets much darker first, so definitely plan around your social calendar, although you can apply a concealer over it, too.” Note that this in-and-out treatment is for very small spots, and you’ll have to wear sunscreen and stay out of the sun afterwards to prevent further sun damage (though, you should be doing that anyway). 

The Issue: A Dilated/Enlarged Pore

In the grand scheme of skincare concerns, an enlarged or dilated pore is pretty low on the list. However, if it’s something that bothers you — and disrupting your makeup routine — then rest assured, there are a few quick fixes. 

The Treatment: The treatment approach depends on what’s causing the enlarged pore. For instance, Dr. Nussbaum says it could be caused by an underlying plug of dirt and sebum (as in a blackhead or whitehead). “In this case, a comedone extractor can be used to extract any contents to try and minimize or resolve the open pore,” she says. You may have seen a comedone extractor before —  it is a simple metal loop that, when pressed onto the offending area, will push old sebum out of an enlarged pore. For an old, enlarged pore that’s not plugged, Dr. Campbell says a TCA peel works well to damage the area and trigger cellular turnover (and healing).

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