One of my absolute favorite medical aesthetic treatments is an IPL aka Intense Pulsed Light aka PhotoFacial aka Photo Rejuvenation. Don’t let the many nicknames get confusing, they are all referring to the exact same procedure. So what is this wonderful procedure everyone needs? It is a treatment I perform on myself every 3 months to maintain the health of my skin. Here are some reasons why everyone should have an IPL and answers on common questions that I would discuss in a consultation.
First things first… what is an IPL?
IPL is officially short for Intense Pulsed Light. It is a device that produces a very intense light over the skin, with a flash, that creates a wrinkle reduction through a skin rejuvenation effect. Imagine a tanning bed in reverse. The type of light emitted by the IPL is non-ionizing and makes the skin heal and rejuvenate its self.
Reason #1 of why everyone needs to have this done.
IPL is good for multiple skin types and conditions.
IPL is the gold standard in treating rosacea, pigmentation and aging skin. The small amount of heat and intensified light awakens the bodies immune system or inflammatory response to regrow and build new collagen, the foundation for healthy skin. This creates a skin tightening effect, your pores get smaller, wrinkles reduce, and skin is noticeably smoother as the skin rejuvenates. The light is also attracted to the pigment in the skin allowing it to break up small spider veins on the face, redness from rosacea and brown spots from aging and sun-damage.
You get almost immediate results with minimal down time.
One of the great things about an IPL is it works very quickly and it leaves the skin intact. That means there are no puncture holes, bruising, bleeding, scabs, peeling, flaking, etc. If you have brown spots, or hyperpigmentation, then these spots will absorb the heat and burn the melanin (pigment) in the skin cells. Your body will automatically get rid of these damaged cells by pushing them to the surface and naturally falling off in a few days leaving you spot free! I tell people my skin “feels like velvet” after my treatments, and that is true because when the pores tighten and wrinkles reduce everything is so much smoother.
IPL is is safe and gentle enough to do multiple treatments for maximum effects.
So how many treatments do I need?
For first time patients that want skin rejuvenation, it is recommended to have a series of 5-6 treatments at for 4 week intervals (ask about our packages for this that save some money). If you are a maintenance patients, I typically recommend to have one every 3-4 months or seasonally. If you have some brown spots, facial veins or rosacea where we need to even out the skin tone, but not too concerned with tightening, then you could get away with 1-3 treatments depending on the severity of the skin condition.
What does it feel like?
The best description is like a small, warm/hot, rubber band. You can feel the light briefly touching the skin, and then after the treatment, you don’t feel any residual effects. Maybe, some slight warmth as if you had a sunburn. Some machines come with a cooling hand-piece to help with pain reduction. And if the person treating you can also write prescriptions then a topical lidocaine can also be requested.
Is IPL a LASER?
No, It is not a Laser. LASER stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. If you can imagine a laser pointer, it goes to one spot in the room, points out one thing, is attracted to one thing and is only one color. IPL is more like a flash light or prism, it can light up the whole room, emits multiple colors at one time allowing it to target multiple skin conditions at one time.
Is IPL the same a Photofacial?
Yes and No. IPL is the technology. Photofacial is one of the original brand names that came out with an IPL machine in the 1990s. It could be compared to a facial tissue being the technology but being commonly referred to a popular brand name of Kleenex. I am not sure if Photofacial as a company still exist, and I haven’t used their technology in 15 years. While IPL is the basic technology, what does change is the type of improvements with how the technology is delivered. 15 years ago, I had only a few different settings and had to hold the hand-piece very specifically 1/16th of an inch off the skin or I could burn the patient. Now, our new machines have multiple settings for all skin types, the skin can be cooled with the hand-piece and the risk of getting a burn is very very low because the technology has improved so much. That being said, it is very important to ask your clinical, what brand name of IPL machine they have, how old it is and how long they have used it personally.
What IPL machine do you use?
At my clinic we use a Viora for IPL. Viora won the Estheticians Choice award for 2016 and has a history of consistently great patient outcomes. As I said previously, this machine has many settings on it allowing your provider to increase or decrease the intensity of your treatment.