What is IPL?
Intense pulsed light therapy, also known as a photofacial, is a non-invasive procedure where energy is delivered in the form of quick light pulses that improves the appearance of the skin by eliminating unwanted pigmentation, redness, and broken capillaries while also boosting collagen production in the skin.
How Does IPL Work?
IPL utilizes rapid flashes of visible and infrared light to eliminate unwanted skin pigment, vascularity, or hair and to stimulate new collagen production. Light-generated heat breaks apart unwanted pigment and eliminates undesired redness and fine blood vessels. The surrounding skin is minimally affected resulting in less pigment and redness over the targeted areas with minimal side effects.
What Can IPL Treat?
IPL can be used to treat:
- Age spots
- Brown or dark spots
- Sun damage or sunspots
- Fine blood vessels
- Facial redness
- Unwanted hair
It can also serve as a “photofacial” to encourage production of collagen and subtly smooth fine lines and wrinkles.
How do I prepare for IPL?
- Avoid sun exposure and self-tanning products for at least two weeks prior to treatment
- On the day of the treatment, come to the appointment with a clean face—free of makeup, moisturizers, and any other skin care products
- Take a dose of antiviral medication if you have a history of frequent cold sores
What Should I Expect with IPL?
Before your IPL procedure, the treatment area is thoroughly cleansed and a topical gel or liquid is applied to help with the procedure and enhance your comfort. You’ll also wear protective eyewear throughout the treatment.
Light pulses are then directed at the skin. This is not painful, but many patients describe the sensation as similar to a rubber band snapping against the skin. IPL treatment sessions are typically completed in about 15-30 minutes but can be shorter or longer primarily dependent on the size of the treatment area.
What Should I Expect After IPL?
The downtime is minimal. In most cases, you can resume daily activities immediately.
The most common side effects are mild swelling which usually subsides within a few hours to a day and temporary darkening of brown spots which can have a “coffee ground” appearance for a few days. Any swelling is minimized with ice packs immediately after treatment. Darkened brown spots usually flake off in 1-2 weeks. Sometimes mild bruising can occur around the vascular lesions if treated.
After treatment, you should use a gentle cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen with SPF 30+ for the next few days. Makeup can be applied immediately after the procedure if desired.
For most patients, improvement can be seen in as little as 1 week. Your treatment plan will be tailored to your specific skin type and treatment goals. Usually, we recommend a course of 3-6 sessions spaced one month apart with a maintenance session every 6 months to 1 year. The best overall results to keep skin looking healthy and young are achieved with regular treatments.
Schedule a Consultation
Interested in reducing age spots, redness, and other signs of photodamage to achieve a more even skin tone and younger-looking skin? To find out if IPL is the most effective treatment option for you, call Arlington Dermatology to schedule an appointment or request your appointment online.