Intense pulsed light (IPL) technology is a treatment that can correct a variety of benign cosmetic skin problems. A broad band of light energy is flashed at the surface of the skin which penetrates deeply to correct various skin conditions. This therapy differs from laser therapy in that it is individualized and has more versatility in therapeutic treatment. Skin conditions such as unwanted broken capillaries (telangiectasia), age spots and freckles, early wrinkling, skin surface irregularities and an uneven, blemished complexion, enlarged pores, birthmarks, and unwanted hair can be improved. Because intense pulsed light treats multiple factors that contribute to skin aging, this treatment is ideal for many patients. In addition, it is a procedure that fits the lifestyle of active people because it requires no “downtime” – you can resume work or other activities immediately.
The application of intense pulsed light to the face and neck areas is a patented procedure called the “PhotoFacial.” The PhotoFacial, due to its versatility, allows for a safe, noninvasive solution that can be tailored to each individual skin condition and type. The program usually consists of several treatments (four to six) at four week intervals. The program gives you a gradual (not sudden) improvement in improving the targeted adverse cosmetic conditions. Each treatment takes about 30 minutes. Intense pulsed light is transmitted through a small handpiece and crystal. The handpiece is held gently against your skin and cooling gel is applied to the area to be treated. Dark glasses are provided during the treatment to protect your eyes from the bright light. The smooth glass surface of the IPL handpiece is applied to your skin and pulses of light are administered. Depending upon the region being treated, you may feel a mild stinging sensation, like the snapping of a rubberband. Any discomfort is minimal, especially with the utilization of an anesthetic cream. Although your eyes are closed and covered during the treatment; you will sense a bright flash (Please understand that the broad band of light being applied to the skin is a safe wavelength and does not contain harmful ultraviolet radiation).
Treatment is generally administered in a series of procedures that provide optimal long term results, minimal adverse effects, and high satisfaction. The number of treatments needed will depend on the number of conditions you are treating and the severity of the individual problems. By dividing the full program into several treatments, the procedure provides gradual improvement at a low risk – and it preserves the wonderful “no downtime” feature that people appreciate so much. The initial treatments are most effective on the pigmented lesions and age spots; the later treatments improve the broken capillaries, telangiectasia and stimulate deep collagen production to improve the irregularities of the complexion. Some telangiectasia may be completely removed in one treatment. Age spots and freckle spots are frequently diminished or completely removed within one to two treatments. Several treatments or sessions are required to treat more extensive, deeper and stubborn lesions.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
* What does the area look like after the treatment? Are there any side effects from the treatment?
The areas treated may have temporary redness, swelling, or a purple discoloration. Blisters may rarely occur following treatment. Skin discoloration, mild swelling and minor blistering of the skin are the most common side effects. In rare cases, a treated area may heal with increased (dark) or decreased (light) pigmentation. Scars are possible, but occur rarely. Some spots may not go away completely, even with multiple treatments. This is especially true of large or deeper lesions, or birthmarks. These lesions are limited in treatment due to their depth in the skin which reside beyond the penetration of IPL. Post inflammatory pigmentation (a brown discoloration that occurs after minor burns or wounds) may occur after treatment with intense pulsed light therapy.
Can all lesions be treated successfully?
Almost all telangiectasia, blood vessels and pigmented spots can be treated successfully. Patients with dark, tanned, or pigmented skin are usually not treated until the tan has faded. IPL is most effective on stubborn, extensive telangiectasia that occur in patches instead of the single vessels. Not all age spots can be completely removed. Some spots are more difficult to treat than others due to the depth of the pigment and other characteristics of the skin. Extensive areas of skin involvement become increasingly difficult because of the amount of treatment required. In such instances, it may be best to concentrate on the most visible area first. Some pigmented spots or lesions are malignant or premalignant. If this is suspected by your doctor, a biopsy will be taken of any suspicious lesions before IPL treatments are performed. People who heal poorly or tend to form severe scars after minor injuries to the skin require careful consideration of the benefits and risks of treatment. A test patch may be performed on a small area of skin to determine if the skin will heal normally.
* Are there any restrictions after treatment?
Normal activities can be resumed after treatment. The treated areas should be protected from sunlight or tanning until the skin color has returned to normal (four weeks). You must avoid unprotected sun exposure or tanning throughout the treatment course. Chronic, unprotected sun exposure will reverse the effects of IPL therapy with the recurrence of numerous skin conditions. Gentle cleansing of the skin and application of an antibiotic ointment (Polysporin or bacitracin) should be used if any blistering, crusting or scabbing is seen.
* Will my vascular or pigmented lesions come back after treatment?
People who spend a lot of time in the sun, and lighter skin types that tend to freckle easily will form new pigmented spots after repeated sun exposure. People with darker skin types tend to tan more evenly than lighter skin types. Good sun protection with clothing and broad spectrum sunscreen products (UVA/UVB SPF 45) will help reduce the potential for reappearance of pigmented spots. Patients being treated for melasma should understand that this condition is an inherent process which will require long term management to keep the over-pigmentation at rest. Most people cannot avoid the sun totally and, so on occasion, touchup treatments will be necessary to remove new pigmented spots. Individuals who have an underlying condition which causes telangiectasia (broken capillaries) will gradually redevelop new vessels throughout life, especially if they frequently flush or blush. Some causes of telangiectasia are not correctable (inherited fair skin). Sun protection will reduce the predisposition for recurrent telangiectasia which resulted from repeated sunburns. Periodic touchup treatments every year or so will likely be required to get rid of new telangiectasia. Telangiectasia at the corners of the nose are most likely to recur because of the high pressure vessels feeding this area of the face. Treatment of an underlying skin condition such as acne rosacea may prevent new telangiectasia from forming.
* How much does the treatment cost? Will my insurance plan cover it?
Treatment costs depend on the extent of treatment necessary and will vary. You will be given a cost estimate before the treatments are initiated. Most treatments of telangiectasia or pigmented spots are considered to be cosmetic by insurance companies and will not be paid for unless they are caused by some illness or skin disease. Payment for treatment of skin lesions with IPL is required in full at the time of treatment unless prior authorization has been received from your insurance company.
Photorejuvenation by intense pulsed light (IPL) offers a revolutionary treatment for a variety of aging skin conditions with minimal downtime. IPL Photorejuvenation is indicated for broken capillaries, vascular blemishes, pigment spots or lesions, dull complexions, skin irregularities, enlarged pores, rosacea, acne, and for hair removal. PhotoFacial therapy is a noninvasive treatment that erases skin damage without disruption of the skin surface, hence no downtime and limited recovery. It provides an effective and convenient cosmetic treatment for individuals in face of busy lifestyles and demands.
Call today to schedule your free skin consultation!