What is Intense Pulse light therapy?

Intense Pulse light (IPL) is a newer technique which is used to treat many imperfections of the skin. The system uses a well known form of light technology that generates a beam which penetrates the skin layers. The end result is skin that is smoother, younger and fresher looking. The newer IPL systems allow for delivering a set amount of energy to each blood vessel without causing injury to skin or other adjacent structures.


What is Intense pulse light therapy used to treat?

IPL is a non invasive, non-surgical method designed to treat the following facial skin problems:

-        Spider veins

-        Reticular veins

-        Aging spots

-        Non cancerous skin lesions

-        Light acne scars

-        Freckles


How does IPL work? 

The IPL system is similar to a laser and generates a beam of light that is focused. This focused beam of light penetrates the superficial skin and destroys the small blood vessels underneath. Over the next few days, the skin forms a scab which falls off in a few days. Individuals who have spider veins will notice that these tiny bluish discolorations on the face will disappear over time. Further, the light also erases the skin pigments and creates an even skin color.


Does the IPL cause any damage to other structures?

No, the beam is very focused and leaves the surrounding skin and tissues intact.


Does IPL treatment work in everyone? 

No, the results are variable. Even though all people do respond, the best cosmetic result isseen in about 80% of individuals The results vary with skin type. In general, individuals with fair skin usually have excellent results. On the other hand, individuals with dark skin usually have a mild response


How is IPL different from laser treatments?

In general, IPL is more effective than laser when treating deeply located veins.  The therapy can be used to treat various skin lesions including spider and reticular veins on the face, arms, legs, back, thigh and abdomen.


Who should not undergo ILP treatment?

No, there are some individuals who are not good candidates. These include individuals who:

-        Are on medications like Accutane. This medication must be discontinued for 4-6 weeks prior to the treatment.

-        Are prone to keloid formation

-        Are pregnant or are breast feeding

-        Have had a recent sun tan. One should wait at least 4 weeks after a sun tan before undergoing IPL treatments

-        Have a recent skin infection

-        Have an acute outbreak of acne


How is IPL performed?

IPL is generally done at a spa or a health clinic. The face is washed and the area to be treated is marked. The IPL does sting a little and most individuals do require some type of numbing medication. This is easily done by applying a topical anesthetic on the skin about 30 minutes prior to the procedure. Many newer IPL systems also have a cooling tip to minimize the pain.


How long do IPL treatments take? 

Intense Pulsed Light Treatments may take anywhere from 15-45 minutes. The amount of time needed will depend on the size of treatment area and severity of the skin lesions.


What are side effects of IPL treatment? 

After the treatment, mild bruising and redness is common. One should sleep with the head of bed elevated for the first night to reduce swelling. Most people are able to resume their daily living activities on the same day. One can use mascara or make-up to hide the redness.


Are there any complications from IPL treatment?

In general complications are very rare but can occur. These complications tend to be more common when the treatment is performed by people who have had no training with IPL devices. Thus, it is important to seek your provider with care.