Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) technology is a treatment breakthrough that can help correct a variety of skin conditions such as facial skin imperfections, the signs of aging, unsightly small veins, Rosacea, uneven pigmentation and can improve skin texture and other blemishes. It offers a safe, gently and non-invasive solution that can be tailored to your individual condition and skin type, providing superior cosmetic results and outstanding satisfaction. This procedure is also referred to as photo-rejuvenation, fotofacial or photofacial.
IPL Treatment for Sun Spots and Age Spots
Photo Courtesy Bruce Russell, MD
Patient results may vary
How Does the IPL System Work?
Pulses of a specific type of light (mostly infrared) are applied to the skin. This light is then absorbed by the skin creating warmth. Irregularities such as pigment marks, small veins or clusters of veins will naturally absorb more light. The brown and red pigmented cells in the skin then become much warmer than the healthy surrounding skin tissue. This heat process causes these cells to be reabsorbed by the body, in time fading away.
The effect of heating the skin and the deeper layers of collagen is that the skin will also be stimulated to function more efficiently, therefore producing a firmer, fresher complexion, reducing pore size and evening out skin texture, tone and color.
What Skin Areas Will IPL Improve?
Intense Pulsed Light can be used on any part of the face and body, including the hands, chest, back and arms. Sun damage occurs on all areas. Because IPL is not a laser, it is suitable for use on skin that has irregular texture or color. Particular pigmentation conditions of the face may call for a different treatment program such as Cosmelan for melasma or Mixto Laser Resurfacing for more intensive combination skin issues.
Expected Results of Your IPL Treatments:
- Elimination or reduction of small capillaries or redness (from sun damage or Rosacea)
- Elimination or reduction of pigmentation and discoloration
- Improved firmness to the skin
- Reduction in pore size
- Reduction of fine lines
- General improvement of texture and tone of the skin
Treatment is usually recommended as a series of 3 to 6 procedures (depending on your skin condition) approximately 3 or 4 weeks apart. Each treatment takes about 30 minutes.
IPL Treatment for Facial Redness
Photos Courtesy Roy Grekin, MD
Patient results may vary
Why Is a Course of Treatments Necessary?
By dividing the program into several treatments, the procedure provides gradual improvement with very low risk. There is also very little and often no “down time” compared with the recovery time needed after other types of laser treatments. IPL is a light treatment and not a laser.
How Long Will the Results Last?
After completing the recommended treatment course we find that for prominent veins and pigments the results are often permanent. The more subtle rejuvenating results are very long lasting, however, anyone wishing to obtain the optimum result longer term may wish to have 1 or 2 IPL treatments each year.
What Does an IPL Treatment Feel Like?
A cold gel is applied to the area to be treated. Then, the smooth glass surface of the handpiece (the “chill tip”) is placed onto the gel. You may feel a slight sting, like the snapping of a small elastic band. A mild warm tingling sensation may remain for 1 hour or more after the treatment where a cool pack or other cooling preparation may be used to provide relief. Most people find they can apply make-up almost immediately after treatment.
Who Can Have IPL Treatments?
Anyone who wants younger looking skin! Your suitability will be assessed by one of the medical staff at Dermatology Group Southern California, followed by a treatment plan to best meet your individual needs.
Can I Have Other Treatments If I Am Having IPL?
This will depend on the type of treatment you are thinking of having and the overall results you wish to obtain. You will be advised during your consultation which combination of treatments will give you the best results. Most patients include other types of treatments along with IPL treatments to achieve overall results.
Video Animation of the 3D Skin Rejuvenation
An example of a multi-treatment program might be IPL for sun damage, Botox for dynamic wrinkles and Juvederm or Restylane for wrinkle correction. There are vast arrays of customizable procedure packages that can provide simple to very comprehensive improvements in your appearance.
View the Cutera Skin Laser and Light Treatment Brochures for more information and additional photographs
Before Your IPL Treatment
- If you have recently been in the sun tanning bed or used any self tanners you will need to wait at least 4 to 6 weeks before having.
- A commitment to stay out of the sun during the treatment process is necessary because treating tanned skin increases the possibility of unwanted side effects such as pigment (color) changes. If you are planning a holiday in the sun we can help you plan your treatments around your holiday.
- If you are pregnant it is advisable to wait until after you have had the baby before considering IPL Treatment.
- If you are using or have used Accutane you must have finished this medication for at least 6 months before IPL treatment.
After Your IPL Treatment
- In most cases this treatment has very little or no “down time”. Immediately after treatment you may notice a mild warmth and tingling sensation. This is normal and usually subsides after a couple hours. This can be eased by using ice, chilled cold packs or wet wash cloth put in freezer for 2-3 minutes may be applied post-treatment as needed for comfort. Aloe Vera gel can also be used to soothe skin. Localized erythema (redness) may also be present and typically resolves in 24 to 48 hours.
- Treated age spots, freckles or sun damage usually darken after treatment, and light crusting begins to form within a few days. It may look as if you have spilled coffee on your skin. This crusting usually resolves in 1 to 3 weeks. It should be allowed to naturally flake off for best results. If significant crusting occurs beyond the normal flaking of the treated lesions, an antibiotic ointment or lubricating cream may be recommended.
- Mineral make-up can be carefully applied providing the skin is not sensitive. Mineral make up can also serve to protect the skin from sun exposure.
- Skin that has been treated should be cared for gently for a few days. Care should be taken to prevent trauma to the treated area for the first 24-48 hours following treatment. Avoid rubbing or scrubbing the skin and avoid exposing it to additional heat or friction such as hot showers, baths, steam rooms, saunas and hairdryers.
- Avoid planning heavy exercise for up to 2 days after treatment, to prevent the skin from sweating and causing undue redness.
- Use of a high factor sunblock (SPF 30) for 4 weeks after treatment is recommended with consistent use of at least an SPF 15 sunscreen product that contains one or more of the following: avobenzone (parsol) and oxybenzone, helioplex, or one of the physical sunblocks – titanium oxide or zinc oxide. We recommend sun protection products by Obagi and Colorescience, both available in our office.
- The recommended time interval between treatments is 3 weeks or longer, once the crusting has cleared.
- You should avoid sun beds, tanning, or sun exposure without sun protection, in the four weeks following treatment. Unprotected sun exposure will create a new cycle of sun damage, negating the effect of your IPL treatment program.
Related Treatments and Procedures
Cosmelan for Melasma and Hyper pigmentation
Mixto Laser for Resurfacing
Chemical Peels for Light to Moderate Exfoliation of Damaged Skin
PhotoDynamic Therapy to Control Acne and Prevent Acne Scarring
Microdermabrasion for Manual Exfoliation of Rough Skin