So, what exactly is an IPL Photofacial? Well, put it simply, IPL, or Intense Pulsed Light, is a type of laser treatment that is designed to enhance the texture and color of your skin. It can be used specifically to help reverse the damage caused by long-term exposure to the sun and is useful in diminishing areas of redness or pigmentation. Personally, this is one of my favorite laser treatments, so much so that I often refer to it as “The Crowd Pleaser” because of its ability to yield consistently outstanding results.
How does the IPL treatment work?
As its name suggests, this particular laser uses light energy to target various colors within your skin. When the skin is exposed to thermal energy, it heats up and that, in turn, aids the body in eliminating unwanted cells. Without getting overly technical, it differs from other lasers in that it puts out multiple wavelengths of pulsating light and thereby can treat a multitude of skin conditions simultaneously. Interestingly, despite this laser being designed to specifically address issues related to color rather than skin resurfacing, patients often notice a significant improvement in the appearance of their skin; often mentioning that their skin now “glows.” This can be attributed to the fact that the heat generated from this laser substantially enhances skin tone.
Who is a candidate for IPL treatment?
The ideal candidate for an IPL Photofacial is typically a patient with fair to light brown skin. With that said, this laser treatment can be catered to different skin types by utilizing various settings as recommended by your individual provider. This treatment can be used to lessen the appearance of pigmented spots (liver or age spots, freckles, melasma, dark spots from hormonal changes, birthmarks, discolored skin), areas of redness (rosacea, broken blood vessel, spider veins, scars), and fine lines and wrinkles. On the day of treatment, patients should remove any makeup or scented products that may irritate the skin.
Who is not a candidate for IPL treatment?
As with any treatment, you should inform your doctor if you have an underlying skin condition, are pregnant, or are currently taking any medication that is causing skin color changes or photosensitivity. In general, IPL is not ideal in patients with an active infection, severe scarring, severe dermatitis or eczema within the treatment area, cold sores within the treatment area, history of seizures, or use of Accutane within the last six months.
What are things that you can do to optimize your IPL result?
Avoid sun tanning, tanning beds, or the use of tanning creams for at least four weeks prior to your treatment.
Avoid taking any medication that can cause photosensitivity, unless otherwise specified by your treating physician.
Engage in a good skin care regimen. I will always refer patients to our medical aesthetician who is able to provide them with guidance on how to best prepare their skin for treatment.
What happens during your treatment?
Once you arrive at the office for your treatment, a member of our office staff will clean your skin and then apply a cool gel onto the areas to be treated. You will be required to wear eye protection that will be provided for you. The IPL probe will then be applied to your skin to start your treatment. The duration of the treatment session varies depending on the number and size of the areas to be treated.
What happens after your IPL treatment?
You’ll look like you’ve had a sunburn for a couple of hours. The application of ice packs or a cool washcloth can help to soothe the skin and limit any discomfort. If you are being treated for redness, some bruising may be evident for a day or two. One thing I always tell patients who come in for treatment of brown spots is to anticipate them getting darker before they start to slough off.
Is there downtime or post-treatment care?
The good news is there really isn’t any downtime associated with this procedure and you can go about your day, but this varies depending on each individual’s comfort level. The key things to remember after treatment are to be diligent with the application of sunscreen, avoid as much sun exposure as possible by wearing a hat, concealing clothing, and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Remember, with IPL, it takes several sessions to get a result depending on the condition that is being treated and the patient’s expectations. Sessions usually take place at two-to-four-week intervals. It is also important to note that it may take weeks to months to notice significant changes in your skin. When we meet in consultation with you about your IPL treatment, we can share photos of actual patients before and after IPL and discuss what you can reasonably expect as a result.
Do I need maintenance treatments?
The simple answer to this question is yes. As fantastic a laser as IPL is, it does not stop the aging process. As such, follow-up treatments are generally recommended once or twice a year to maintain results.
How can I learn more about IPL?
The best way to find out more about what Intense Pulsed Light can do for you is to schedule your consultation with an experienced laser specialist. During your consult, you’ll have an opportunity to discuss your cosmetic goals and have your skin evaluated to determine if you are a good candidate for this popular treatment.