Seeking beautiful skin can sometimes feel like an endless journey, but advanced cosmetic treatments like IPL photofacials have made achieving healthy and radiant skin easier than ever. IPL has become popular due to its wide benefits, addressing many skin conditions.
In this article, we will explore the IPL laser benefits and why they are worth considering for your skincare routine.
What Is IPL Photofacial?
IPL Photofacial or Intense Pulsed Light is a type of light therapy used for various dermatological procedures, including skin rejuvenation.
The technology uses a high-powered, hand-held, computer-controlled flashgun to deliver an intense, visible, broad-spectrum light pulse, generally in the visible spectral range of 400 to 1200 nm. Various cutoff filters are commonly used to selectively filter out lower wavelengths, especially potentially damaging ultraviolet light. The resulting light has a spectral range that targets specific structures and destructs chromophores (e.g., melanin in hair or oxyhemoglobin in blood vessels) and is reabsorbed by the body.
IPL shares some similarities with laser treatments in that they both use light to heat and destroy their targets. But unlike lasers that use a single wavelength of light, which typically matches only one chromophore and hence only one condition, IPL uses a broad spectrum that, when used with interchangeable filters, allows it to be used against several conditions. This can be achieved when the IPL technician selects the appropriate filter that matches a specific chromophore.
What Does IPL Treat?
This treatment improves the appearance of the following skin concerns:
- Vascular lesions, including spider veins, port wine stains, broken facial veins, rosy cheeks, rosacea, and red thread veins of the legs
- Freckles and age marks
- Facial lines and wrinkles
- Removal of unwanted hair
- Dark spots from sun damage or hormonal changes
- Brown spots, also called liver or age spots
- Stretch marks
What Are the Benefits of IPL Laser?
Here are the many intense pulsed light benefits you can get when you undergo this treatment:
Reduces Skin Discoloration
One of the key IPL benefits is the reduction of skin discoloration. The pigmented areas in the skin, such as age spots or freckles, absorb the light energy from the IPL device. This light energy is then converted into heat energy, which fragments or shatters the pigment into tiny particles.
After the treatment, the body’s natural healing processes start. The body’s immune system gradually removes the tiny pigment particles. Some pigments may also rise to the skin’s surface and naturally slough off through exfoliation. Additionally, the heat generated by the IPL treatment stimulates the production of new cells and promotes collagen regeneration within the skin. This leads to a smoother, more even complexion.
Improves Skin Texture
Photofacial treatment can help stimulate collagen growth, resulting in smoother and firmer skin.
As we age, our bodies produce less collagen, leading to sagging skin and wrinkles. By boosting collagen production, IPL treatments rejuvenate the skin surface and help restore a smooth complexion. The light also targets and reduces irregular pigmentation, resulting in a more even skin tone. Since IPL is a non-ablative procedure, it does not damage the top layers of the skin, making it a safer alternative to other resurfacing treatments.
Minimizes Redness and Rosacea
IPL photofacials can reduce redness and broken capillaries, making it an effective treatment for rosacea. The heat from the IPL treatment stimulates collagen production, which can help strengthen the skin and reduce the appearance of dilated blood vessels over time. It’s important to note that while IPL can significantly reduce rosacea symptoms, it’s not a cure. Regular treatments may be necessary to maintain results.
Reduces Fine Lines and Wrinkles
While not primarily designed for this purpose, IPL for wrinkles and fine lines targets deeper layers of the skin and stimulates collagen production. However, it’s worth noting that while IPL can improve skin appearance, the treatment’s effect on deep wrinkles may be moderate compared to other treatments like Botox or dermal fillers. Therefore, a combination of treatments may be recommended for those with significant signs of aging.
Treats Acne and Acne Scars
IPL for acne effectively kills acne-causing bacteria, thereby reducing the frequency and severity of breakouts. The light energy from the IPL device penetrates deep into the skin to reach the bacteria that cause inflammation and acne breakouts.
Another important way IPL can improve acne is by treating inflammation. As the skin absorbs the light, it heats up and destroys the inflamed sebaceous glands in your skin, which are a major contributor to acne. This helps reduce the redness and swelling associated with acne, resulting in smoother and clearer skin.
In addition to treating active acne, IPL can also help diminish the appearance of acne scars. The light energy stimulates collagen production, which helps to fill in and smooth out any uneven texture or indentations caused by previous breakouts. With regular treatments, IPL can significantly improve acne scars’ overall texture and appearance.
Quick Procedure, Minor Discomfort, and Little Recovery Time
IPL treatments typically take between 20 and 30 minutes per session, allowing patients to fit them easily into their busy schedules.
After an IPL treatment, most patients can return to their normal activities almost immediately. There’s no need for extended time off work or social engagements. While some redness, swelling, or minor discomfort may occur immediately after treatment, these side effects usually subside within a few hours to a few days.
An Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) photofacial is considered non-invasive because it doesn’t involve incisions, injections, or skin removal. In contrast to invasive procedures like surgeries that physically alter or remove parts of the body, IPL treatments are performed on the skin’s surface without breaking the skin barrier.
Can Be Used With Additional Treatments for Optimum Results
IPL photofacials can be combined with other cosmetic procedures to enhance results. However, the suitability of combining treatments depends on your individual skin type, concerns, and goals.
Here are a few treatment options that can potentially be combined with IPL:
- Chemical Peels. These help to remove the top layer of dead skin cells, allowing the IPL treatment to penetrate more effectively.
- Microdermabrasion. This procedure also removes the surface layer of skin cells, which can improve the results of an IPL photofacial.
- Botox or Fillers. IPL photofacials can be used with injectables like Botox or dermal fillers. While IPL addresses skin tone and texture, these injections target wrinkles and volume loss.
- Laser Resurfacing. IPL can be combined with laser skin resurfacing treatments for more intensive results. While IPL targets pigment and vascular issues, laser resurfacing can address deeper wrinkles and scars.
How Does the IPL Photofacial Process Work?
Step 1: Appointment With a Skin Care Specialist or Aesthetician
You should consult a professional aesthetician before deciding to go through the treatment. They will evaluate your skin type, medical history, medications you take, and current health to determine if you are a suitable candidate for the procedure. The skin care professional will also enlighten you on the process, the benefits, and potential side effects of this therapy.
Like any medical procedure, IPL Photofacial Therapy may have potential side effects. These can include:
- Appearance of redness and swelling
- Increased sensitivity
- Darkening of pigmented spots
- Blistering or bruising
- Infection or scarring
- Changes in skin color
- Minimal discomfort
Being aware of these side effects will help you make an informed decision.
Step 2: Assessment of Skin Type
For the treatment to be effective, your skin type and complexion are considered. Individuals with lighter skin are often the best candidates for IPL photo facial therapy. Darker skin types may risk skin discoloration because the light may affect the melanin in their skin. Your dermatologist should assess your skin and inform you of the potential risks.
Step 3: Intense Pulsed Light Therapy
The treatment can begin once you have completed the initial consultation and are deemed a suitable candidate for IPL photofacial therapy.
To help minimize discomfort during the procedure, a cooling gel is applied to your skin before treatment. This gel also helps to protect your skin from the heat produced by the light pulses. Then, your aesthetician will direct intense light pulses at your skin using a hand-held device. This light is absorbed by the melanin in your skin and converted into heat energy.
The duration of this treatment depends on the area being treated and the severity of skin imperfections. On average, a session can last between 30 minutes to an hour.
Step 4: Post-Therapy Care
After the procedure, your skin may appear slightly red and swollen, similar to a mild sunburn. This is normal and should subside within a few hours. Your aesthetician will advise on post-treatment care instructions, such as avoiding direct sunlight and using gentle skincare products.
How to Prepare Before Your IPL Treatment Session
Before you go in for your skin treatment, there are several steps you can take to ensure your skin is well-prepared and to maximize the effectiveness of IPL:
- Avoid Sun Exposure. Sun exposure can increase the risk of complications during IPL treatment. Avoid the sun as much as possible for at least two weeks before your appointment. If you must be outside, use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Stop Smoking. Smoking can delay healing and increase the risk of complications. If you’re a smoker, try to quit or cut back at least six weeks before your treatment.
- Avoid Certain Topical Creams. Some creams, particularly those containing retinol or other types of Vitamin A, should be discontinued in the weeks following your treatment.
- Avoid Tanning Beds and Self-Tanners. Like sun exposure, tanning beds, and self-tanners can increase your risk of complications and should be avoided for four weeks before your treatment.
- Exfoliate Your Skin. Exfoliating helps to remove dead skin cells and can make your IPL treatment more effective. Try to exfoliate every day, including the day of treatment, and moisturize daily (excluding the day of treatment).
Talk to your aesthetician about these preparation measures during your consultation.
Aftercare Tips Following IPL Photofacial Treatment
After undergoing an Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) photofacial, it’s essential to follow some aftercare tips to ensure the best possible results and minimize any potential side effects.
Here are some general tips:
- Apply Ice Packs to Reduce Swelling and Redness. It’s normal to experience some redness and swelling after an IPL photofacial. Applying ice packs or a cold compress can help reduce these side effects.
- Avoid Sun Exposure. Protect your skin from the sun for at least a week following the treatment. The skin will be sensitive and more prone to sunburn. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 whenever you go outside.
- Stay Hydrated. Keep your skin hydrated by drinking plenty of water and using a gentle moisturizer approved by your skin care professional.
- No Hot Baths or Saunas. Avoid hot baths, saunas, and excessive sweating for a few days post-treatment.
- Avoid Skin Irritation. Skip exfoliants, toners, or anything that might irritate your skin for at least 48 hours.
- Don’t Pick at Your Skin. After IPL, freckles and age spots may darken and look like coffee grounds before they flake off. It’s crucial not to pick at these areas and let them heal naturally.
- Follow Your Provider’s Instructions. Your provider may give specific instructions based on your skin type and the area treated. Be sure to follow these closely.
Remember, everyone’s skin responds differently to IPL treatments, so if you notice any unusual reactions, contact your skin care professional immediately.
Achieve a Youthful Appearance With IPL Photofacials at Seamless Skin M.D.
There are many benefits of IPL photo facials. They improve the overall appearance of your skin and help reverse some signs of aging. If you’re considering this treatment, contact Seamless Skin today to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced and highly-trained aestheticians. Our boutique medical spa is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, ensuring you receive the best possible results with minimal discomfort.
During your consultation, we will assess your skin type and address any concerns or problem areas you may have. We will also discuss the treatment process and what to expect before, during, and after the procedure. Then, we will create a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs.