INTENSE PULSED LIGHT – PHOTOFACIAL IPL
IPL Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is similar to laser technology, but instead of consisting of a single wavelength, is made up of several wavelengths, and delivered in short controlled pulses which control the depth of penetration into the skin. IPL has many applications, ranging from hair removal, acne treatment, and improvement in melasma, to general skin rejuvenation.
The effect of IPL is based on exploiting the color difference between your skin (“the background”), and the things we are treating (“the blemishes”). We are usually treating darker pigmented areas of the skin or pink and red tones to the skin due to superficial blood vessels. When your skin (along with the “blemishes”) are exposed to pulses of bright light, the “blemishes” absorb more energy compared to “the background”.
As a result of IPL treatments, the parts of your skin that hold the pigment may eventually “release” the pigment in the form of “peppering”, or what appears to be a scab on the skin. Also, as the red blood in the capillaries in the skin absorbs the light energy in the form of heat, the body responds by slowly scarring the blood vessels closed. This is how the pigmented spots, or “sun spots”, as well as pink coloration to the skin, or “rosacea” respond to IPL.
One of the best parts about an IPL photo facial is that they involve no downtime or minimal downtime in some cases. The ability to even skin tones without missing work is where IPL really shines in the arsenal of treatments at Nuance Facial Plastics.
While evening skin tones is the primary function of IPL Photofacials at Nuance Facial Plastics, there are other benefits as well. The rapid heating and cooling of the skin stimulates collagen production to thicken the skin, and can also decrease pore size. Acne outbreaks can be treated with IPL, as the light can be filtered to focus on killing the bacteria that causes acne. Though more specific lasers to remove hair have become the “workhorses” of hair removal, IPL was the first light-based hair removal technology and is still used widely for this purpose.
The diverse applications of IPL are a result of the ability to “tune” treatments. The fluance, or power, of a treatment, can be adjusted. The length of the pulse can be controlled to change the depth of penetration. Finally, the wavelengths of light can be controlled using filters. The three parameters can be adjusted to give optimal results for each patient and make treatments quite versatile. The complexity of determining what the best settings for a particular patient, given their skin type and goals of treatment, is what makes IPL delivery an art. The knowledge, training, and judgment of the practitioner delivering the IPL Photofacial gives the results, as each treatment is unique.
What issues do IPL Photofacials address?
- Age spots
- Brown spots
- Broken capillaries around the face and nose
- Freckles on the face, chest and hands
- Dark circles beneath the eyes
- Uneven skin texture
- Discoloration due to sun damage
- Sun damage to the neck or décolletage
- Age spots on the hands or arms
How Can I Prepare for My IPL Photofacial?
- Treatments are best done when there is no recent tanning, sunburn, or recent excessive sun exposure.
- It is best to not wear makeup to your appointment (though it can be easily removed in the office), as we want to treat the bare skin without anything in between the IPL and your skin to absorb the light energy.
- If you are using any retinol, tretinoin (Retin-A), Tazorac, or Differin (adaplatene) products, then please stop 3 days prior to your appointment. These can be restarted 2 days after your treatment in most cases.
What Happens During an IPL Treatment?
- After your skin is cleansed with alcohol, goggles are used to protect the eyes from the bright flashes of light.
- The IPL prism (where the light pulses are delivered) is rectangular, so a water-based gel is used between the prism and the skin to provide better contact.
- We determine a treatment dose based on your skin type and adjust this during your first treatment to get the optimal result.
- The pulses are delivered every 1-2 seconds, and the sensation is described as “a rubber band snapping”.
- Once a treatment area is completed, then the gel is removed, and another part of the face is treated until the entire face has been treated.
- The entire treatment typically takes 20 minutes.
- A sunblock is applied before you leave the office.
What Is Recovery Like?
- Most people will return to their pre-treated look within 30 minutes of completing their IPL Photofacial.
- Some may notice a temporary darkening of the “dark spots”, or a reddening of the “pink patches” of their face.
- Make-up can be gently applied after your treatment.
- IPL is a sun-sensitizing treatment, so wearing strong sun blocks afterward is required for the best results.
At Nuance Facial Plastics, all treatments are performed by Dr. Summit Kundaria, in contrast to many other clinics and medical spas, where IPL treatments are typically done by aestheticians. Having an experienced and fellowship trained surgeon to perform the procedures enables the patients to get the most out of every IPL Photofacial.