What is Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL)?
Intense pulsed light (IPL) is a non-invasive treatment that uses high-intensity pulses of visible light to improve the appearance of skin irregularities and common complaints associated with skin aging. The procedure helps in rejuvenating aged skin and is referred to as photorejuvenation.
What does IPL treat?
- Vascular lesions including spider telangiectasis, port wine stains, broken facial veins, and Rosacea
- Freckles and sunspots
- Facial lines and wrinkles
- Removal of unwanted dark hair
- IPL may also be helpful for mild to moderate acne and stretch marks.
How does IPL work?
IPL works on the same principles as lasers in that light energy is absorbed into particular target cells with color in the skin. The light energy is converted to heat energy, which causes damage to the specific target area. IPL systems are different to lasers in that they deliver many wavelengths in each pulse of light instead of just one wavelength. Most IPL systems use filters to refine the energy output for the treatment of certain areas. This enhances penetration without using excessive energy levels and enables targeting specific chromophores (these are skin components that absorb light).
What are the benefits of IPL?
IPL therapy is considered a non-ablative resurfacing technique, which means that it targets the lower layers of skin (dermis) without affecting the top layers of skin (epidermis). The advantage of IPL therapy is it can be used to treat any areas with minimal downtime – a patient can often have the procedure done on their lunch break and return to work immediately afterwards.
What does the procedure involve?
Prior to the procedure your provider should explain the process to you and clearly define your expectations of the treatment. They should be able to tell you whether or not the results you are looking for will be achievable using this method. It is important that the correct diagnosis has been made by your doctor prior to treatment.
IPL treatments are normally straightforward. Make sure the technician has been properly trained and is experienced in IPL therapy.
- Avoid sun exposure in the days and weeks before and after treatment.
- A cold gel is applied to the area being treated. IPL devices often have integrated cooling systems.
- The smooth, glass surface of the IPL treatment light guide is applied to the skin, delivering precise pulses of light to the area being treated.
- Treatment sessions usually last about 20 minutes. A course of 4-6 sessions every 3-6 weeks may be needed to achieve desired results.
- Most patients can return to work immediately after treatment.
Throughout the treatment session, the patient must wear protective eyewear. IPL treatments are relatively painless compared to other facial rejuvenation techniques. The sensation has been likened to a light pinch or the snap of a rubber band.
What should I expect to feel after the treatment?
IPL is a very tolerable treatment with little to no downtime. Most common side effects are:
- Pain during treatment (reduced by contact cooling and if necessary, topical anesthetic)
- Skin turning pink and a little sore immediately after the procedure.
- A sensation of a mild sunburn (redness, peeling, swelling) that may last a few days after treatment.
What are the long-term benefits?
IPL not only targets specific concerns of skin texture and tone but also helps promote collagen production, helps to manage the long-term effects of sun damage, and give the skin a lasting healthy glow. All those looking for a non-invasive, quick, and effective method to restore damaged skin should consider the Intense Pulsed Light treatment. This unique skin treatment not only restores your skin to its original youthful texture and tightness, it also ensures that you do not have to invest a lot of time in recovery and healing.
How many treatments are recommended?
A series of 4, IPL treatments are recommended for the desired result. Treatments are then performed just 3 times per year to maintain those results.
Resource: DermNet – All about the skin | DermNet (dermnetnz.org)