Photo Rejuvenation & Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Therapy
Photo rejuvenation (photofacial or fotofacial) is a non-invasive skin health and restoration treatment that can reduce some of the damage inflicted on your skin from sun, aging and biological factors as well as conditions such as Rosacea. The technology supplies a broad spectrum of light which reaches deep down within the skin, targeting pigment and vascular imperfections. It treats skin damage without disruption of the skin's surface, hence, no "down time". The goals of therapy are a more even skin color and texture.
The IPL can not only treat the imperfections on the face but also the neck, chest and hands.
melasma, and even visible blood vessels. IPL may also produce a tightening of the skin and improve very fine lines but does not in general affect wrinkles.
IPL systems work on the same principles as lasers in that light energy is absorbed into particular target cells with colour (chromophores) 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 colours) in each pulse of light instead of just one wavelength. Most IPL systems use filters to refine the energy output for the treatment of certain areas. This enhances penetration without using excessive energy levels and enables targetting of specific chromophores (these are skin components that absorb light).
IPL therapy is considered a non-ablative resurfacing technique, which means that it targets the lower layers of skin (dermis) without affecting the top layers of skin (epidermis). The results are not as dramatic as ablative resurfacing where both the dermis and epidermis are injured to produce a much more noticeable and visible overall outcome. The advantage of IPL therapy is its minimal downtime – a patient can often have the procedure done in their lunch break and return to work immediately afterwards.
IPL can be used to treat a variety of conditions on the face, neck, chest and hands, including:
- sun damage
- refinement and reduction of open pore size on facial skin
- skin texture irregularities
- broken capillaries
- brown spots
- age spots
- sun-induced freckles on the hands, chest, and face
- broken capillaries around the nose
- fine lines
- ruddy skin
Although mainly used for the face, Photo-Rejuvenation treatments can be safely and effectively used on non-facial skin for photo-aging and discolouration of the neck, dcolletage, chest, hands and forearms, shoulders and legs.
IPL treatments are normally straightforward. It is good to avoid sun exposure in the days and weeks before and after treatment.
Before treatment, a cold gel is usually applied and you will be given protective eyewear. A topical anaesthetic cream may be applied to the area but is not usually necessary. During treatment, a trained staff member applies the surface of the IPL hand piece to the skin. Light is delivered to the skin surface in precise pulses.
IPL treatments in general are relatively painless compared to other facial rejuvenation techniques however the sensation during treatment can be likened to a light pinch or the snap of a rubber band, which some people occasionally find distressing. In those situations topical anaesthetic creams are best used to reduce this sensation.
Each session usually lasts about 20 minutes, and you should return to normal activity immediately afterwards.
Recovery with the IPL Photo rejuvenation is minimal. Your face may be mildly red after the procedure similar to what you would see after a good exercise workout. The flushing and redness will last from a few minutes to several hours after treatment. If your skin is quite loose you may experience some swelling but this will subside. Pigmented areas on your skin will become darker initially, and then flake off over the following week.
You should be able to resume all of your regular activities immediately. By dividing the full program into several treatments, the procedure provides progressive improvement with very low risk. You will also need to avoid the sun as much as possible after the treatment and use a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 40 daily, at all times of the year.
You should be able to return to normal activities immediately. As mentioned you may experience mild redness, but it usually disappears within a few hours.
On average, four to six IPL treatments are recommended, scheduled at four-week intervals for the first four months, with the fifth and sixth treatments several months apart. Vascular lesions require treatment at much shorter intervals.
However, each person is unique and therefore during your consultation a plan will be decided that is best for you.
IPL therapy brings about gradual changes over the course of the treatments therefore patients is needed. After a full course, you may notice improved texture of skin, decreased redness, more even color, and youthful skin tone.
Brown pigment marks initially darken for a few weeks and then gradually flake off with the application of moisturizing creams.
Expert skin care maintenance suggested following treatments, including complete sunscreen protection to prevent recurrence of photo-aging. With good sun protection, results from a full series of treatments can last up to a year or more.
Maintenance follow-up treatment may be desirable every year or two, depending on the condition. Patients with rosacea may require regular maintenance treatments, and the frequency will depend on the severity of the condition.
IPL therapy is safer than laser therapy because IPL does not damage the epidermis(outer layer of the skin). There may be some mild pain during the procedure but no recovery time. Unlike some laser therapies, however, multiple treatments (4-6, at three weeks intervals) are often needed to get the full benefit.
Side effects are minor and include:
Pain during treatment (reduced by contact cooling and if necessary, topical anaesthetic)
Skin turning pink and a little sore immediately after the procedure.
Sensation of a mild sunburn (redness, peeling, swelling) that may last a few days after treatment.
Rarely, skin pigment may absorb too much light energy and blistering can occur.
Sometimes the pigment cells (melanocytes) can be damaged leaving darker or paler patches of skin. White patches or scars are rarely permanent.
Hair loss may occur.
Bruising affects up to 10% of patients
The following procedures can also be combined with IPL to produce excellent results:
- Fillers - to fill out folds & wrinkles, including the area next to the nose and mouth, to enhance the lips, and to soften the hollows under the eyes
- Botox - to soften and erase lines in the upper face including forehead, frown and crow's feet
- Lasers - to tighten the skin & reduce wrinkles and acne scars