Have you ever heard of a "photo facial?"
If so, then you've heard of Intense Pulsed Light, or IPL.
Sun Spots, Freckles, and Age Spots Be Gone!
Another term for it is photo rejuvenation, and it is a minimally invasive laser treatment used in skin care for a variety of conditions. If you are trying to reduce the appearance of sun spots, age spots, uneven skin pigmentation, freckles, birthmarks, rosacea, or spider veins, IPL can help.
With IPL a computer-controlled flashgun is used to administer an intense, broad-spectrum pulse of light. The flashgun is able to filter out potentially damaging UV light and lower wavelengths, so that the light delivered in the pulse has a specific range that successfully targets the problem area. When the light energy converts to heat energy, the spot gets heated and destroyed and then is reabsorbed by the body -- effectively disappearing into your skin.
IPL is different from a laser treatment in that it employs a broader spectrum of light, which is able to target many more conditions. Think of it more along the lines of the light diffusion created by a bulb, rather than the concentration of a light beam. A laser uses only a single wavelength of light, or color, so it targets a single condition. This is what makes it so effective, for example, in hair removal, where it focuses on the melanin in the hair follicle, and not on the surrounding skin.
How Often Can I Get IPL Therapy? Does It Hurt?
Most people need from three to five IPL treatments, depending on what is being treated, with sessions falling about a month apart so that the skin can rest in between.
While it is not invasive, it can be slightly uncomfortable. Clients have described is as a light stinging sensation against the skin when the pulse is applied, similar to being hit with a rubber band. Sometimes a topical anesthetic cream is applied to the site if someone is extra sensitive.
What to Expect After a Treatment
Immediately following a treatment, age spots and freckles can look darker and veins can look redder. Don't let this worry you; these outcomes usually resolve over a few days when crusting can occur. Once the lesions heal, the problem zone will be less visible and will get progressively so over the course of the following sessions. Makeup can be used on the sites right away if cover up is needed, which makes IPL a viable lunchtime treatment.
Remember to Cover Up
Avoiding sun exposure before and after the sessions is very important, as IPL won't work on tanned skin, and more sun after treatment just brings back your original problem.