Intense pulsed light (IPL) is a cosmetic skin treatment. People may use it to reduce the signs of aging, pigmentation, vasculature, reduce acne, or remove unwanted hair. An IPL treatment uses the power of broadband light to deliver pulses of intense light to penetrate the layers of the skin. Most patients describe experiencing a fast, pinching sensation during treatment, with minimal discomfort. There is no need for injections or incisions, giving patients the bonus of no downtime required.
Unlike lasers, an IPL device sends out more than one wavelength of pulsating light. It can treat a range of skin conditions at the same time. After IPL, you may look younger because your skin tone is more even. While laser therapy uses a set wavelength depending on the procedure, intense pulsed light therapy uses multiple different wavelengths of light released in pulses. You can think of it as a strobe light passing along the skin. IPL isn’t a focused beam like a laser. It instead is dispersed beams of light that work together. As the light penetrates down to the second layer of skin, it allows the cells to absorb its energy, heat up, and eventually destroy the pigmentation within the cell. This is how age spots, other discoloring blemishes, moles, birthmarks, and rosacea are diminished.
IPL works on the same principles as laser in that light energy is absorbed by targeted cells (chromophores) with color in the skin. The light energy is converted to heat energy, which causes damage to the specific target area. IPL systems are different to lasers in that they deliver many wavelengths (or colors) in each pulse of light instead of just one wavelength. This technology use filters to refine the energy output for the treatment of certain areas. This enhances penetration without using excessive energy levels and enables targeting of specific chromophores (skin components that absorb light). The light heats cells in the skin and breaks them down. The body then removes the damaged tissue naturally.
During the procedure, people may feel a pinching sensation. Some individuals have described this as a feeling similar to an elastic band being “snapped” on the skin. Sensation is moderate and very tolerable.
Your skin may be temperature sensitive for several days after treatment. Brown spots and freckles will appear
darker while healing.
It should take 4-6 weeks to see the full result and 2-3 treatments may be required to achieve an optimum
The sessions are designed to provide no downtime however, occasionally you may find that your cheeks
and under eye areas are slightly puffy after treatment. You may use cold compresses (5 minutes on and 10
minutes off) several times an hour to help ease both redness and swelling.
Sleeping with your head elevated for the first night will also help decrease any swelling you may experience.
Redness around the treated area for a few hours to days.
Freckles and age spots may darken for three to seven days before starting to fade.
If possible, arrive without creams or make-up on the treatment area. Otherwise please arrive 10 minutes prior to your appointment in order to clean the skin. Cleansing products are available for your convenience.
Allow approximately 45 minutes for your appointment depending on the size of the treatment area.
Pre-treatment photos will be taken.
Just prior to treatment, you will be given eye shields or glasses to wear to protect your eyes.
The short answer is no. Healing after an IPL treatment varies with the patient although in most cases takes less than a week and as little as a few hours to days. Immediately after the treatment you may notice some minor redness and swelling, similar to that of a sunburn. Ice packs or a cool washcloth can be used as needed. If treating freckles and other dark spots, you may experience dryness and flaking of the treated area. Some of the spots may appear darker, but they should slough off within a few days. You can apply makeup immediately after an IPL treatment if desired. Avoid heavy exertion and activities which may cause flushing of the skin for three days after treatment.
It will take four to six weeks to see the full results from a single treatment, however you should see dark spots fade and slough off within a week. If you complete a series of treatments about one month apart, the maximum results will be visible in two to three months after the last treatment.
The results of IPL begin to appear right after treatment and continue to improve over the next few days to weeks. It does take some time for veins to fully collapse and be reabsorbed by the body, so full results cannot be seen right away. If symptoms accompanied the spider veins, they are usually relieved immediately after treatment.