IPL Photorejuvenation: Help for the Baby Oil Tan Generation
Do you have fond childhood memories of tanning by the pool slicked in baby oil? If you are a member of the baby oil tan generation, IPL Photorejuvenation may be your new best friend.
Intense Pulsed Light Photorejuvenation removes early signs of aging and sun damage by removing brown spots, fine lines, redness and even restoring an overall brighter and younger looking appearance. While the technology is still relatively new, IPL is widely available in spas and doctors’ offices across the US and Canada.
How Does it Work?
Think of IPL as a kinder, gentler laser.
The therapy starts with a cooling gel that is applied to the area or spot that is going to be treated. The IPL hand piece or wand is held against that area of the skin as light is pulsed through the wand. The bright IPL light reaches deep into the skin. Various filters used on the wand screen out most of the wavelengths; a choice of filters allows the doctor to customize each treatment to the client’s needs. Each filter is tissue color specific, targeting brown spots, pigments or blood vessels while healthy surface skin is left untouched.
The emitted light is absorbed by the targeted tissue. The light energy produces enough heat in the problem tissue to destroy it. This process jumpstarts the body’s own normal skin repair system that will then break down and eliminate the damaged tissue.
The light and heat of IPL also has a slight collagen stimulating effect that will improve the texture of the skin over the course of a few weeks.
What Can IPL Do For You?
IPL can treat a wide variety of age-related skin problems:
• Clear age spots, benign brown spots and freckles from the sun – IPL is filtered to select brown tissue. The light seeks and destroys this tissue leaving a clearer complexion.
• Shrink large pores – UV damage causes collagen breakdown leading to saggy pores. IPL can help rebuild some of the lost collagen in the skin, shrinking pore size.
• Improve Fine lines – While IPL has not proven to be effective to treat deep wrinkles, it can be used to tighten the skin and remove fine lines if the correct filter is used.
IPL Photorejuvenation therapy is also frequently used on more serious or difficult to treat skin problems including:
• Rosacea, spider veins and broken capillaries – Aging, sun damage, genetics and other factors can cause broken capillaries and blood vessels. These spider veins on the face often cause areas or patches of redness often associated with Rosacea. The blood vessels exposed to IPL heat up and are destroyed. These blood vessels eventually disappear.
• Varicose Veins – The treatment of varicose veins is similar to Rosacea and other blood vessel problems. The advantage to IPL therapy is that no needles or sclerosing solutions are used. However, the treatment sessions may be longer than normal and a little uncomfortable.
• Acne – The light and heat produced by IPL may help to control acne by zapping the bacteria that causes the infection and inflammation leading to pimples. IPL is also frequently used to shrink the oil glands in the skin that also contributes to pimples. IPL is often combined with photosensitizers, such as Levulan, when treating acne.
IPL is also used in some clinics to treat some skin cancers. It is part of a new technology called Photodynamic Photorejuvenation (PDPR) that is used to treat pre-cancerous cells and non-melanoma skin cancer. A photosensitizer called 5-ALA is applied to the targeted area followed by an IPL treatment and then a brief exposure to a red light, killing the cancerous cells.
IPL PhotoFacial Results
IPL Photorejuvenation provides gentle and gradual improvement to the skin so the results are a very natural looking brighter, clearer and smoother complexion. Experts agree that the results of the therapy are subtle and so IPL therapy is best reserved for mild problems. But dermatologist to the stars, Dr. Dennis Gross explains on WebMD that “it’s best to begin with the least aggressive products and procedures.”
The bright clear skin that results from an IPL facial can last for up to a year. As collagen production increases after each treatment, the results become longer lasting.
IPL is a non-invasive outpatient therapy. Sessions typically last 30 minutes to an hour. The number of treatments varies, but the average is 4-6. Possible side effects are temporary redness or swelling. Longer sessions may result in blisters or bruising
The cost for IPL Photorejuvenation ranges from $400 to $800 per area of treatment
Ideal candidates for IPL facials are people with:
• Fair skin that has not recently been tanned
• Skin that has some elasticity or has regained a degree of elasticity
• A willingness to maintain the required treatment schedule
You may not be the best candidate if:
• You are seeking treatment for deep wrinkles or deep scars.
• You want quick or drastic results.
• You have ethnic skin, darker skin or pigmentation problems. IPL may cause a worsening of hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation. If you do choose IPL therapy, ask for a test-run on an inconspicuous area of your skin.
• You have very sensitive skin that tends toward excessive scarring, bruising, sun sensitivity, keloid formation or poor healing.
• You have had skin cancer or a family history of skin cancer.
IPL is not recommended for people who are pregnant or are currently on Accutane
Before scheduling IPL therapy, ask your doctor if it is the most effective option for you. Due to the very subtle healing nature of IPL, some doctors still prefer lasers to IPL because laser therapy is more direct in providing quicker and deeper tissue response.
IPL therapy can also be used in conjunction with Radio Frequency therapy like Thermage for stronger results. Some IPL units are also equipped to transmit radio frequency waves. Ask the expert performing your treatment if he is using the best device for your specific condition.
The success rate with IPL is very operator dependent so, before you schedule an appointment, be sure to ask for references and for the clinician’s personal success rate with the therapy.
If your age and your childhood sun-indiscretions are catching up to you, IPL Photorejuvenation may be the right therapy for you. And if you promise to give up the baby oil tans, your skin just might forgive you.
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