Intense Pulse Light Therapy (IPL)
- About Intense Pulse Light Therapy
- What can I expect?
- Safety / Side effects
- Before treatment instructions
- After treatment instructions
IPL is an abbreviation for Intense Pulse Light. It is a non-laser precision light generator that transmits an extremely bright pulse of white light through a hand piece with a smooth, flat glass surface that is held against the skin. The machine generates multiple wavelengths of light in pulses designed to break up small surface blood vessels, dissipate brown hyperpigmentation and reach deep down in the skin to stimulate the collagen-producing cells without damaging the outer layer. An IPL treatment is very effective at removing or softening acne scars. Generally, IPL treatment achieves desirable effects on the face, neck, chest and the back of hands. However, IPL may be used on most parts of the body, depending on the needs of the patient and the recommendation of your doctor.
- Gradual "evening out" of skin tone
- A gradual decrease in redness or brown hyperpigmentation.
- Smoother skin with a decrease in fine lines and/or a reduction in pore size depending on the skin condition.
- Possible removal of darker-colored (brown, black) body hair in treatment areas (chin, upper lip, cheeks). Eyebrows and eyelashes will not be affected as they are not treated by the laser. Hair reduction may be permanent. Hair with lighter pigment (grey, blond) will not be affected.
- An increase in noticeable results with more treatments. Although some patients experience their desired results in just 1-2 sessions, most patients require a series of 5 treatments.
An IPL procedure requires "no downtime," so patients need not interrupt their daily routine. The treatment lasts 20-60 minutes, depending on the areas treated. Before the procedure the practitioner will apply a thin layer of clear gel to the areas to be treated. This gel is cool and soothing, and assists in the efficacy of the treatment. During the treatment the practitioner moves the hand piece slowly over the treatment site on the skin. The light is administered in short pulses. You may experience a warm or hot sensation when the laser is fired.
IPL is FDA approved. There is no evidence of increased risk for skin cancer nor skin aging from this procedure.
Do not pluck, wax, use a depilatory or undergo electrolysis in the areas you wish to have treated for 6 weeks prior to laser hair removal. Do not tan the areas to be treated for 4 weeks prior to treatment and avoid using self-tanning products for 2 weeks prior to treatment. Please refrain from taking aspirin or ibuprofen products for 5 days prior to your treatment. If you need to take pain medications, Tylenol is permitted.
When the practitioner is finished, the gel will be wiped off and you may apply makeup as desired and return to their normal activities. Some redness and swelling in the area is normal after treatment and may feel similar to a sunburn. This should resolve within several hours to several days after treatment. Do not rub, scratch or pick at the treated area. Avoid hot baths or showers for the first 24-48 hours. Gently clean area twice daily. Avoid irritants (glycolics, retinoids etc.) for 2-4 days after treatment as long as the skin is not broken or blistered. For swelling or redness, apply cold Aloe Vera gel and for itching or irritation, apply 1% Hydrocortisone cream to affected areas.
Rarely, a small blister or scab may form. Leave it alone, if intact. If skin breaks or a blister opens, apply an over-the-counter topical Bacitracin ointment to the area and reapply regularly to keep area moist and well- covered with medication. Do not pick to reduce the risk of scarring.
You may notice a "coffee grounds" effect on the treated areas in a few days. The "coffee grounds" may look like small, brown specks on the skin. This is the breaking up of discolored pigments of the skin in the treated areas and will get reabsorbed by the body within a few days. Do not scrub at these "coffee grounds" but continue skin care as usual. If they do not disappear within a few days or the patient notices anything unusual with the treated areas, he or she should call the clinic for more assistance.
Avoid direct sun exposure during the full course of treatment. This means no tanning of any kind, including tanning booths and artificial tanning lotions. Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen of 30 + SPF and reapply every 2-3 hours, especially facial areas. Your sunblock should contain Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide as the active ingredients. Avoid sports, including swimming and strenuous exercise, for 1-2 days following the laser treatment. Chlorine and perspiration may irritate sensitive, lasered areas.
Please refrain from taking aspirin or ibuprofen products for 5 days following your treatment. If you need to take pain medications, Tylenol is permitted.