IPL PHOTOFACIAL

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What is IPL Photofacial?

Photorejuvenation (IPL – Intense Pulsed Light) laser treatments are most commonly used for:

  • Lightening and removing “sun spots”, “age spots”,  and brown blotches on the face, neck, chest, hands and other areas of the body
  • Lightening and reducing redness, rosacea, dilated blood vessels and “broken” blood vessels on the face, neck and chest
  • Helping to control flushing
  • It also has a lesser effect of improving skin texture through collagen stimulation and improves pore size minimally by temporarily reducing oiliness

Photorejuvenation, when done properly, almost always consists of a series of 3-5 treatments, usually one every three to six weeks. The benefits of photorejuvenation treatments are achieved with little discomfort and minimal risk.

Some offices refer to IPL laser photorejuvenation as a Photofacial or Fotofacial.

How does the IPL treatment improve the appearance of blood vessels, rosacea, and age spots/freckles?

The laser/IPL device emits a range of lightwaves that are then tuned and targeted at hemoglobin (the red blood cells in the blood vessels) or melanin (the brown pigment in freckles and age spots). The light beam passes through the skin and is absorbed by either hemoglobin or melanin resulting in damage to the vessel wall or fragmenting of melanin pigment. These tiny vessels and the melanin pigment are then absorbed by the body, rendering them less visible.

How long does it take for laser photorejuvenation treatments to work?

Most people need 3-5 months, which consists of a full series of 3-5 treatments about 1 month apart.  You can see some improvement with each treatment, but it’s common for your response to be slightly different to each treatment. The more sun damage or redness you have, the more likely you are to need a full five treatments.  Some cases of severe redness or brown spots require more than 5 treatments. Expect to see gradual clearing over time.

Do IPL Photofacial treatments hurt and how long will they take?

There may be mild discomfort during the treatment, but most patients tolerate removal of dilated blood vessels or age spots/freckles and fine lines very easily. The first treatment is usually the “zingiest.” As your skin begins to clear, the treatments usually become even more comfortable. Treatments usually take 30-90 minutes, depending on the size of the treatment area.

What are the IPL Photofacial treatments like?

When you come to a laser center, you will be shown to a laser room. Your medical provider will put special glasses or eyepads over your eyes to protect them. A cool gel is then placed on the skin being treated. The smooth glass surface of the handpiece is gently applied to your skin and pulses of light flash. You may feel a very slight sting, like the snapping of a small rubber band.

At the end of the treatment, the nurse wipes off the gel, cleans the area with a warm cloth, and applies a moisturizer with sunscreen. If there is any mild swelling, you might be given a cold pack to apply for five or ten minutes. Most centers will let you reapply foundation or concealer immediately after a treatment.

What will I look like right after the IPL treatment, and what is the healing time?

For veins, generally, the skin looks slightly redder after the treatment for two to five days. Makeup can be used starting right after the treatment, as long as it is applied and removed very gently. Rarely, there is bruising, which can take 1-2 weeks to resolve.

For freckles and age spots, the spots generally look darker for 3-7 days. Crusting can occur, which may last up to ten days. The lesions will then begin to clear and will generally be resolving at one month. Remember, it takes an average of 3-5 treatments to clear age spots.

Who should do the treatments?

A doctor, PA-C (certified physician assistant), ARNPs, RNs, or MAs.  In some states, licences aestheticians are allowed to operate some lasers. All should be experienced in laser treatments

What results can I expect from photorejuvenation treatments?

After your first treatment, you can expect to see some redness, darkening of brown spots, and light swelling. These symptoms will resolve in several hours to one week. Makeup can be immediately applied, if desired. After the treatment, your skin will feel smoother and have a more even tone. A gradual decrease in overall redness, flushing, age spots, and fine lines will be more visible after each treatment.

What should I do prior to my photorejuvenation treatment?

Your laser center will give you their instructions prior to your first treatment but here are some of the basics.

  • For 2-4 weeks before your treatment, avoid self-tanners and excessive sun.
  • You may be asked to discontinue minocycline, tetracycline, doxycycline or Retin-A/Renova several days prior to each treatment.
  • You may be asked to avoid taking aspirin, ibuprofen, or Aleve one week prior to treatment unless medically indicated to help prevent bruising.
  • Protect your improved skin with sunscreen every morning. Hats and sunglasses are also good protection from the sun.

Who should not get these treatments?

Avoid laser treatments in pregnancy because no testing has been done.

Are there any side effects?

The main side effects are mild, temporary swelling, redness, an accentuation of the brown spots, crusting, and an occasional bruise or small superficial blister (like a sunburn blister).  There are rare other side effects which your laser center will review with you in your consent form.

 


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