Our Lumenis IPL is not a laser but a devise that targets a broad spectrum of pulsed light onto the skin to correct multiple skin conditions. Also known as a photo-facial or photo-rejuvenation, IPL is commonly used to treat skin showing early signs of aging, i.e., brown spots, uneven pigmentation, dull skin, fine lines and wrinkling. IPL is also an excellent cosmetic option for men and women with acne and rosacea by targeting facial redness, broken veins and capillaries. IPL is most often on the face, neck and décolletage but is also be used for the hands and shoulders. IPL has the added advantage of being non-ablative, which means that the epidermis is not damaged so it can be safely used in combination with esthetic treatments such as microdermabrasion and chemical peels. The process is ideal for patients with active lifestyles because the procedure requires minimal downtime and has a low risk of side effects.
WHAT TO EXPECT
During an IPL session, a series of intense pulses of light penetrate the deepest layers of skin. The light is transformed into heat energy, which is absorbed into the dark spots and blood vessels beneath the surface of the skin. After IPL the skin will initially feel warm similar to a mild sunburn sensation. Usually the treated skin stays red for less than 24 hours and there may be some bruising. Initially, dark spots will look darker but gradually fade. Brown spots that have been treated usually flake off within 5-7 days. Mild swelling may occur, which will subside within 2 days following treatment. Spider veins and broken capillaries clear almost immediately following the treatment and continue to improve.
In the weeks following treatment, skin will look more evenly toned, pore size reduced and there will be a noticeable reduction in the appearance of dark spots, discoloration, broken blood vessels, acne, redness and fine lines and wrinkles. Improvements can be seen 10 days following the first treatment and enhanced results can be seen with subsequent treatments.
Avoid sun exposure and tanning for two weeks before and after treatment. Sun exposure makes IPL less effective and makes complications after treatment more likely. The area to be treated should be free of make-up, perfumes, lotions and/or creams. If necessary, you can remove these applications in the exam room prior to treatment. You must advise us of any medications you are taking or have taken in the past six months that increase sensitivity to light. Examples include several antibiotic and antifungal medications as well as Accutane (Isotretinion).
IPL is transmitted through a small hand-held device that is placed over the skin. The procedure will often target the full-face or treat an isolated area like the hands, chest or shoulders. Just before the procedure, the IPL parameters are customized for wavelengths, number of pulses, duration of pulses, delay between pulses, and power delivered to best match the relative depth, size, and absorption characteristics of the target area, and to avoid the settings that would cause damage to the surrounding area. The light blast penetrates just below the skin's surface, damaging either the melanin that makes up brown "age spots" or the blood vessels that create broken capillaries. In some instances the Nd-YAG 1064nm laser will be utilized in conjunction with the IPL for large blood vessels in the nose area and upper lip.
You will wear a drape and cooling gel will be applied topically to the skin. You and the provider will wear appropriate eye protection. A test pulse to the treatment area is done and observed to confirm the settings before proceeding. The procedure takes about 15-30 minutes, depending on the size of the target area. Following treatment, the cooling gel is washed off, the skin is cleansed, and sunscreen and moisturizer applied. You will be given ice packs to ease discomfort. The timing of your follow up visits will be discussed at the completion of your treatment.
WILL IT HURT?
With each pulse of light (one per second or so) there will be a stinging sensation that is often described as a rubber band snapping your skin. The outer layers of the skin are protected with a cold gel during the procedure and a special cooling device built within the IPL device help the pulsed light penetrate the skin and reduce discomfort.
As a sub-epidermal procedure, IPL produces few side effects and requires little to no alteration in your normal routine. Most people go back to work after treatment and light make up may be applied the following day. When the Nd-YAG 1064nm laser is used with the IPL for large blood vessels, some bruising may be seen. Post treatment, you may apply soothing cold compresses and/or creams or lotions. A topical anesthetic cream such as lidocaine or biafine may be prescribed for follow up care. Oral Arnica or topical vitamin K may be used for bruising and Tylenol for pain.
Ideal results are obtained by undergoing a series of IPL treatments, between 4-8, depending upon the skin condition. More sessions are required for patients with numerous fine blood vessels and/or severe photo damage. Skin care that compliments IPL treatment will extend the benefit duration, as will esthetic treatments such as microdermabrasion and chemical peels.
Periodic maintenance treatments may be needed that varies from person to person and become less frequent as time passes. Those treated for pigmentation changes will enjoy prolonged benefit if they are sunsmart but may require maintenance treatment to address new pigmentation changes that arise from past years spent in the sun that can take years to manifest.