Intense Pulsed Light
What is it?
Commonly called IPL or photo facial is used to address many skin concerns such as redness and hyperpigmentation with virtually no downtime. IPL uses light energy to reverse the visible signs of aging from general environmental wear and tear. It can also help stimulate collagen production reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
What are the Benefits of IPL Treatments?
At West End Plastic Surgery, all of our non-surgical treatments seek to improve your skin. IPL photofacials benefit your skin in two ways. First, these light treatments target your pigmentation problems such as age spots. The darker cells absorb the IPL energy and the melanin pigment fragments. The body then absorbs the pigment cells and the spots become less and less visible. With facial surface veins, the energy is absorbed by the dark blood, heating the vein. This heating causes the vein wall to collapse and close off the vein. The body then scavenges the vein and it completely disappears.
Second, the IPL energy penetrates the epidermis layer of the skin (the outer layer) and gently heats the dermis, the skin’s second layer. When the body senses this heating in the dermis it responds as if it has been wounded by producing new amounts of collagen and sending it to the “wounded” area. Since collagen provides the skin’s underlying support structure, this firms your skin and reduces lines and wrinkles.
Who is a Good Candidate for an IPL Photofacial at West End?
IPL photofacials are primarily used for addressing pigmentation issues. So, if you have blotchy, sun-damaged skin with lots of freckles, IPL photofacials are an effective treatment. They also shrink large pores, remove broken capillaries, and lessen fine lines and wrinkles. Rosacea responds to IPL treatments.
IPL photofacials are not effective for darker skin tones or deeply tanned skin, as the IPL wavelengths cannot differentiate between the age spots/pigmentation problems and the rest of the darkened skin. If you’re using Retin-A, doxycycline, or other medications, they will have to be stopped for one week prior to your photofacial at West End.
How is an IPL Treatment Performed?
To start your IPL photofacial, we rub gel on your clean skin, and we give you a pair dark glasses to protect your eyes from the light rays. If you desire, we also can apply topical numbing cream to reduce the sensations of the treatment.
We then place the IPL handpiece on the skin of the treatment area. The handpiece slides across the skin delivering light pulses. When the IPL device delivers the light pulse, you’ll feel a slight sting. Patients equate this with a small rubber band being plucked lightly against your skin. This process is repeated until the entire face or other targeted area is completely covered. This typically takes between 20 and 30 minutes.
Post Treatment Instructions
- Your skin may be irritated or red and feel as though you have mild sunburn. This is a normal occurrence and you may apply cool, not cold compresses to the treatment site. Do not apply ice or anything frozen directly to the skin. Apply cool compresses for no longer than 20-minute intervals.
- Avoid the use of alpha or beta hydroxyl products, retinols, or Retin A products for 24 hrs after your treatment as they could create additional irritation. After 24 hrs you may resume your prescribed skin care regimen.
- Flaking and crusting may occur. Do not attempt to exfoliate or remove any crusting. Areas with heavy sun damage and brown spots will darken over the first 24 hrs after treatment. Some of the red areas may intensify as well. Do not pick or abrade the area. This is part of the normal response to treatment and will clear on its own in 3-7 days. If you experience any open wounds contact our office immediately.
- Maintain hydration. Drink plenty of non-alcoholic, caffeine-free and sodium-free beverages and keep skin well hydrated as directed.
- Cleanse and treat your skin as prescribed. Follow the directions you are given for your skin condition and goals. Proper skin care is essential to support the effects of your IPL treatment.
- Do not expose your skin to direct sunlight for a minimum of 3 days. Good sun protection is essential following treatment. If you are outdoors apply a minimum SPF 30 and wear sun protective clothing and headwear. Following IPL therapy your skin is highly susceptible to sunburn or the formation of irregular, darkened pigmentation. Therefore, Sun protection is required for life to maintain the results you have achieved.
- Follow-up as directed. Your treatment may require several treatments of many weeks to achieve optimal results. Results may not be visible after each treatment but may develop gradually in the weeks that follow. It is essential that your progress is monitored throughout your treatment cycle. Keep your appointments as directed.
How Much Does an IPL Cost?
The cost of your IPL photofacial at West End Plastic Surgery will depend upon the size of the areas you’ve elected to treat. Your cost is based upon the length of time it takes to adequately cover your target areas. This can vary widely between patients. During your consultation we’ll learn exactly the issues or areas you’re seeking to address. At that point, we can give you the exact cost of your IPL photofacial.
Does Insurance Cover IPL?
No. These treatments are considered to be elective, cosmetic treatments. As such, insurance does not cover them. You can use money from a health savings account to pay for your photofacial, however.
Your skin will be unprotected against sun exposure, however, so you need to be cognizant of that. You’ll have to avoid sun exposure for several days. From there you’ll need to really protect yourself for at least two weeks. It’s always a good idea to protect your skin from the sun anyway. After all, the pigmentation spots you’re having treated developed due to too much sun exposure.
How Long Will My Results from IPL Last?
The changes in your pigmentation problems and blood vessels are permanent. After the IPL energy breaks down the melanin in your sun spots and closes off those small surface blood vessels, your body removes them as waste products. Whether you develop more sun spots and broken surface blood vessels is dependent upon your sun exposure moving forward. More sun exposure will create more sun spots and areas of blotchy pigmentation. But if you take good care of your skin and protect it from the sun, your skin will continue to look good for the long term.
Is IPL Safe? Are There Risks or Side Effects?
These are very low-risk procedures, as they are completely non-ablative and non-invasive. Unlike laser resurfacing, the light energy is not removing any skin. It is simply penetrating the outer layer and targeting the darker colors of the sun damaged skin and blood vessels beneath the surface. There isn’t any recovery after our IPL photofacials at West End Plastic Surgery. Your skin may be somewhat red after your session, but that passes in a few hours.