Intense-Pulsed-Light Skin Rejuvenation
Intense-Pulsed-Light (IPL) skin rejuvenation uses high-energy pulses of light to improve the skin's appearance. Also referred to as IPL photorejuvenation, photofacial therapy and pulsed-light therapy, IPL skin rejuvenation is a nonabrasive and noninvasive treatment option for removing red and brown pigment from the skin. IPL is used to treat age spots, birthmarks, freckles caused by the sun, symptoms of rosacea, spider veins, and scarring from acne; it is also an effective tool for hair removal. IPL penetrates below the surface of the skin, leaving the top layer of skin intact, which means that there is no post-treatment recovery period. The light is absorbed by the pigment in sunspots and the blood in the visible vessels, and converted to heat. The heat dissolves the cells that create the pigment and shrinks the vessels.
Prior to IPL treatment, a topical anesthetic gel is applied to the skin to reduce discomfort. The IPL machine is placed on the settings that best suit the patient's skin; among the factors considered are the condition being treated and, because IPL is absorbed differently by different skin colors, the amount of pigment in the skin. Protective coverings are placed over the patient's eyes, and the IPL handpiece is gently pressed to the skin as pulses of light are emitted. The light is absorbed by the skin's red or brown pigment and converted to heat, which dissolves the pigmented cells. After treatment, the topical anesthetic is removed with a warm cloth, and a moisturizer with sunscreen is usually applied. If there is any swelling, a cold pack is applied for 5 to 10 minutes.
Three to six treatment sessions are usually required; sessions typically last from 30 to 90 minutes each, and are spaced approximately 3 weeks apart. Gradual improvement may be seen after each treatment, but optimal results appear only after several months.
There is no recuperation time following IPL treatment. A patient can return to work or resume normal activities on the same day. Although skin may be slightly reddened after the treatment, redness typically disappears within a day or two. As it heals in the days following treatment, skin often begins to flake. Over time, however, a gradual, natural-looking improvement in the skin becomes noticeable. Applying sunscreen regularly and avoiding sun exposure is recommended following IPL treatment.
One possible contraindication for IPL treatment is taking medication that increases photosensitivity. A patient using a topical or oral medicine that increases sensitivity to light may not be a candidate for IPL treatment. And, although IPL skin rejuvenation is considered safe, there are some risks associated with its use. Although rare, IPL skin rejuvenation can cause skin discoloration, blisters, scars and burns.