IPL (Photofacial)

IPL Photofacial Explained

The Intense Pulsed-Light photofacial, also called IPL, delivers a blast of high-energy light into the skin in order to treat a variety of skin conditions such as dark spots on face, spider veins, or facial redness. The treatment is known for the use of a non-ablative laser that does not damage the upper layers of skin the way that many other laser treatments do. Nonetheless, keep in mind that even with all its improvements, an IPL photofacial can be painful and the use of a numbing agent or a local anesthetic may be necessary.

How the IPL Photofacial Works

The IPL photofacial produces specific wavelengths of light that target the hemoglobin and melanin in the skin, often called the “reds and browns.” When the light hits the pigments within the skin, it destroys the excess pigmentation and stimulates the growth of new cells. The device also damages the lower layers of the skin in a controlled manner, stimulating the production of collagen.

For best results, five treatments of the IPL photofacial, conducted every two weeks, are recommended. After that, regular maintenance treatments will be needed every 6-12 months. As with most facials, regular upkeep of photofacial treatments are very important for continued results.

Photofacial Side Effects

Some side effects of this procedure include the following:

  • Permanent discoloration on the skin
  • Bruising and redness after treatment
  • Burns or blisters
  • Scabbing that results in scarring

Because the treatment targets specific colors of pigmentation in the skin, it should not be used for people with darker skin complexions. Other contraindications of an IPL photofacial treatment include the following:

  • People with a recent sunburn or suntan should not undergo an IPL photofacial because the light will target the newly formed melanin in the skin. In fact, you should refrain from a lot of sun exposure prior to and during treatment.
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding shouldn’t have an IPL photofacial because much of the discoloration of their skin is caused by hormones that will change naturally as more time passes after giving birth.
  • If you have a cancer or are undergoing cancer treatment the facial may be dangerous.
  • The IPL photofacial can aggravate Lupus symptoms.
  • Surgical pins or plates under the treatment area can cause severe burns.

Make sure you inform your skin care specialist about conditions like dermatitis, keloid scarring, or eczema before you undergo treatment. Also, medications like Accutane, St. John’s Wort, vitamin A products like retinoids or alpha hydroxy acids, or blood thinning agents should not be used if you get an IPL photofacial.

Because there are so many contraindications to this procedure, many people choose photofacial alternative routes that achieve similar results. Some of the treatments include laser treatments, creams or serums, and thermal rejuvenation:

  • Laser Treatments: This photofacial alternative uses light without targeting specific skin pigments. During the treatment, an intense beam of light is focused on the skin in order to damage the upper layers of the skin. As the skin heals, tighter, smoother skin forms.
  • Creams or Serums: Retinoids are a form of vitamin A and can be a photofacial alternative by stimulating the production of collagen in the skin. While the results are not as dramatic as laser or IPL facial treatments, many people find them an inexpensive option to improve skin.
  • Thermal Rejuvenation: A heat signature is sent deep into the lower layers of skin, causing the tissue to contract and produce more collagen. The treatment is generally used to reduce the signs of aging.

If you are considering a photofacial, keep in mind that people respond to different types of skin therapy in different ways. What’s right for your friends may not always be what’s right for you, because you skin is unique. Take this procedure seriously, and before undergoing a photofacial, talk to your skin care specialist to ascertain all the risks in your situation.