IPL, Intense Pulsed Light treatments, also called Photofacial skin treatments can treat a very wide range of skin problems. Whether you have aging skin, Rosacea, broken blood vessels, unwanted hair, brown spots, acne, or sun damage, IPL treatments are a safe, easy, no down time method to correct these problems.
What Is IPL or Photofacial Therapy?
IPL is not a laser, but rather a much gentler and safer form of skin care treatment. IPL uses a flash of visible light, like a very powerful flash bulb or digital flash, not laser energy to remove unwanted pigment, blood vessels, red spots, hair, acne and sun damage from the skin.
IPL however uses sophisticated filters that only allow a very specific color or wavelength of the visible spectrum to pass through on to the skin. The IPL is tuned or set to flash only the color that is needed to remove a specific target, such as hair, a blood vessel or brown spot. For example, if you want to remove a blood vessel from the skin, IPL flashes a color which matches the color of blood in the vessel. The IPL energy is absorbed by the blood in the vessel, the blood is heated and the vessel is damaged and removed, but all other tissues around the blood vessel are not affected.
This method is called target specific photothermolysis. What it involves is using light energy to heat a target such as a brown spot to dissolve the unwanted pigment. Photo means light, thermo means heat and lysis means to dissolve. The most important feature of IPL is that this form of energy can be tuned to only target a specific color and leave the normal skin around the pigment, or other target, undamaged. Unlike surgical removal of a brown spot, which damages normal skin as well as the brown pigment and leaves a scar, IPL can be tuned to only remove the brown spot and leave the normal skin intact without damage or a scar.
The key to successful IPL or laser therapy is to find the perfect color or wavelength that is specifically absorbed by the target that you want to remove. Once you find an IPL or laser wavelength that is specific for hair, blood vessels, brown spots or other skin abnormality, then this therapy can be used to remove the problem with less skin injury than surgical methods and less scarring.
Why Is Intense Pulsed Light Better Than Laser?
Intense pulsed light is less powerful than laser. Since all photo therapies work by producing heat to dissolve the target, less heat means less danger of burn injury and scarring. Intense Pulsed Light is capable of producing enough energy to remove many skin abnormalities, but is able to do so with less energy, less heat and less risk of over treatment and scarring than with lasers.
Intense Pulsed Light treatments are less painful than laser treatments and do not require a topical anesthetic. There is minimal to no down time or visible marks following treatments, unlike laser skin treatments.
There are still skin care applications that require the more powerful laser treatments. For example, skin resurfacing to remove wrinkles still requires laser treatment like fractional laser skin resurfacing such as the Starlux 2940 ablative fractional laser. Deep scar removal such as acne scars and skin plumping treatments require non ablative fractional laser skin resurfacing like the Starlux 1540. These treatments require very deep penetration into the skin that only the more powerful laser energies can achieve. Skin tightening requires even deeper skin penetration and other forms of energy such as infrared used in the LuxIR Deep and Titan, and radio frequency energy used in Thermage are used.
But for the most common skin disorders that can be treated with photo therapy, Intense Pulsed Light is very effective and safe and has become the preferred method of treatment for many skin conditions. In my practice Photofacial treatments are the treatment of choice for hair removal, acne, brown spots, sun damage, red spots, broken blood vessels, Rosacea, spider veins of the legs, and general facial and chest skin rejuvenation treatments.
Photofacial Skin Treatments for Sun Damage and Skin Aging
Photofacial skin treatments of the face and chest produce remarkable skin rejuvenation by removing brown spots and broken blood vessels from the face and décolletage. It is amazing how much younger you look when the skin is cleared to a uniform smooth appearance without blemishes.
Removal of Brown Spots, Sun Spots and Pigment
Larger discreet brown spots and pigment can easily be removed with Intense Pulsed Light.
Hair removal using Intense Pulsed Light is very effective and less painful than laser hair removal. Hair removal treatments are quicker.
Removal of Spider Veins
Intense Pulsed Light can effectively remove spider veins from the legs. Larger veins can also be treated with the 1064 laser or sclerotherapy
Removal of Broken Blood Vessels on Face
Small blood vessels and capillaries and Telangiectasias occur on the face, especially around the nose in many fair skinned people. These abnormal blood vessels occur most commonly as a result of sun damage and aging changes in the skin. The Photofacial is the treatment of choice for these small facial blood vessels.
Treatment of Rosacea
Rosacea is a skin condition that causes facial flushing and a red face. In time, Rosacea can also cause acne type lesions. Photofacial treatments can produce remarkable improvement in Rosacea.
Photofacial and Photodynamic Therapy for Acne
The newest and most effective treatment for moderate to severe acne and cystic acne is called photodynamic therapy (PDT). Using Intense Pulsed Light, or blue or red wavelengths combined with a skin photosensitizing agent, remarkable acne removal results are possible. The photosensitizing agent, called Levulan. Levulan, a product containing Aminolevulinic acid (ALA), is applied to the skin to make the skin more sensitive to photo energy. After a waiting period of 30-60 minutes, Photofacial treatment is done to the skin.
This combination therapy helps remove acne by three methods. First, the acne causing bacteria, Proprionibacterium Acnes, is killed. Secondly, skin exfoliation occurs to remove skin debris. Finally, sebaceous gland oil production is reduced. This combination therapy is effective for severe and cystic acne. PDT can also be used to remove sun damage and rejuvenate the skin.
Find a Good Doctor’s Office for Your Photofacial Treatment
While these treatments are safer than laser treatments, safe effective phototherapy treatments require expertise, skill and knowledge. Your results will only be as good as the experience and skill of the person who does your treatment. These therapies are best done under physician supervision. The machines used in Spas are less powerful and thus less effective than those used in a physician’s office.
Do your homework, search the net and find an experienced board certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist who uses phototherapy techniques. A combined approach involving a physician, medical aesthetician and or nurse will provide the best combined medical and photo medicine therapies to give you the best result.