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Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis is a scaly, rough patch on your skin that develops from excessive exposure to the sun. 

actinic keratosis

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Actinic keratosis (AK) is a skin condition that can sometimes develop into squamous cell carcinoma. It often appears in groups of several growths, surfacing on areas of the body that are regularly exposed to sunlight (e.g., scalp, back of hands, face, ears, back of forearms, the neck, and the shoulders). They come in the form of red scales, raised patches, crusty patches, or a sandpaper texture. Detecting AK early gives the patient the opportunity to treat the lesion and prevent skin cancer before it starts. If diagnosed early, almost all actinic keratoses can be successfully removed.

what does actinic keratosis look like?

Symptoms of actinic keratosis: 

  • Rough and dry skin lesion
  • Patch or growth on the skin
  • Limited to one area (localized)
  • Located on the face, scalp, back of the hands, chest, or other sun-exposed areas
  • Gray, pink, red (erythematous), or the same color as the skin
  • Begins as flat and scaly areas
  • Later develops a hard and wart-like or gritty, rough, and “sandpapery” surface — may develop a horn-like texture

what treatments are available?

Actinic Keratoses are most often treated with Fractional Resurfacing and topical therapies:

Devices used to treat this condition:

The following topical therapies are also used:

  • Efudex (5-fluorouracil)
  • Aldara (imiquimod)
  • Picato (ingenol mebutate)


“1927-nm Fractional resurfacing of facial actinic keratosis: A promising new therapeutic option.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2013 Jan.

“Topical Methyl-aminolevulinate Photodynamic Therapy Using Red Light-emitting Diode Light for Treatment of Multiple Actinic Keratoses: A Randomized Double-blind Placebo-controlled Study.” J. Am. Acad. Dermatol. 2008 October.

“Topical Methyl Aminolevulinate Photodynamic Therapy in Patients with Multiple Actinic Keratoses: A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study.” JAAD, 2008 October.

“Laser Meditated Photodynamic Therapy of Actinic Cheilitis.” Drugs in Dermatol. 2004 Sept/Oct.

“Laser-Medicated Photodynamic Therapy of Actinic Keratoses.” Arch Dermatol. 2003. 

Real Patients Before and After photos

Laser Treatment for Actinic Keratosis on Female Patient

Laser Treatment for Actinic Keratosis on Female Patient

Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed.
Laser Treatment for Actinic Keratosis on a Man’s Face

Laser Treatment for Actinic Keratosis on a Man’s Face

Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed.

Actinic Keratosis In The News

Fraxel Dual for the Treatment of Actinic Keratosis (AK)

Fraxel Dual for the Treatment of Actinic Keratosis (AK)

Novel nonablative fractional laser shows promise for clearing actinic keratoses

Novel nonablative fractional laser shows promise for clearing actinic keratoses

Roy Geronemus Appears on CBS News for Actinic Keratoses

Roy Geronemus Appears on CBS News for Actinic Keratoses

Fraxel re:store(R) Dual Laser Proven Effective in Treating Actinic Keratosis, a Common Precancerous Skin Condition

actinic keratosis

Questions and Answers

Q: Can I Reduce My Chances of Getting Actinic Keratosis?

A: Limiting your exposure to the sun can reduce your chances of developing actinic keratosis. Wearing sunscreen daily can also reduce your chances of developing actinic keratosis. 

Q: Can Actinic Keratosis Develop Into Cancer?

A: Yes. If left untreated, it is possible for a squamous cell carcinoma to develop.  Treatment is recommended as soon as possible to avoid this possibility. 

Q: How Fast Does Actinic Keratosis Develop?

A: Actinic keratosis can take years to develop. 

Q: Who Is At Risk For Developing Actinic Keratosis?

A: Everyone is susceptible, but precautions can be taken to reduce your chances. Excessive sun exposure, family history, fair skin and/or light eyes can greatly increase an individual’s chance of developing skin cancer. 

Q: How Much Does Treatment Cost?

A: Treatment costs vary by patient. Contact your dermatologist to figure out a treatment that is best for you. 

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Sagging Skin

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Wrinkles are a common and unwanted sign of aging. As you age, your body produces less collagen, creating saggy and wrinkly looking skin. Our customized strategies to combat wrinkles include laser resurfacing, dermal fillers, and wrinkle relaxers.

Brown age spots

Age spots and brown spots (also known as sunspots, liver spots, and lentigines) are a consequence of aging and sun exposure. The most effective treatment for eliminating these spots and other skin pigmentation is laser therapy, which usually includes little to no downtime after treatment. 

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