What is a Photofacial Treatment?
Photofacial uses Intense Pulsed Light (IPL). IPL West Palm Beach Gardens, Florida is a machine that has some similarities to Laser. IPL is used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including acne scars, broken capillaries, spider veins, rosacea, fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage, and hyperpigmentation. They’re an alternative to laser treatments. Photofacial treatments can be done anywhere on the body other than directly above the eyes or on the eyelids. However, they’re not recommended for deep skin tones because there’s too much risk of hyperpigmentation.
Before an IPL procedure, avoid tanning for at least two weeks, which can make it harder to accurately target problem areas and can increase your risk of being inadvertently burned or Hyperpigmented. It is also recommended to avoid aspirin, ibuprofen, and alcohol for up to a week beforehand.
At the beginning of your treatment, you’ll put on dark glasses or goggles to protect your eyes. Your provider will do a spot test to make sure the device settings are appropriate and that you don’t feel too much discomfort.
Most patients report that an IPL treatment feels similar to a rubber band snapping against their skin. If you feel something closer to a burn during the spot test, tell your provider so they can adjust the settings.
During your treatment, your provider will run the smooth surface of a handheld device over your skin, pulsing it with directed light. The entire process should last between 15 minutes and an hour, depending on the size of the area you’re having treated.
Your provider will give you care instructions. They’ll likely recommend a moisturizer and cold packs to limit swelling and ease any discomfort. Dr. Dahabra, a cosmetic specialist in West Palm Beach Gardens, Florida says “It’s common to have a sensation similar to a sunburn for one to two hours afterward. Aloe or ice packs can help soothe it.”
One to seven days post-treatment, pigmented spots will appear to rise to the surface of your skin—the brown, freckled areas can look like coffee grounds—before fading a few days to a week later, according to Dr. Dahabra. Your skin may feel sunburned and hypersensitive for a couple of days following, so treat it gently until you’re completely healed. Avoid sun exposure and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater on the treatment area at all times.
- IPL technology effectively treats a wide range of skin concerns.
- It’s noninvasive and relatively comfortable, with no downtime.
- You’ll spend less than you would on laser treatment.
- It’s not recommended for deep skin tones (due to the risk of hyperpigmentation).
- Temporary side effects can include mild swelling, redness, brown spots, crusting, bruising, or (rarely) blisters and burns.
- There’s a chance of a prolonged discoloration.
- These potential side effects are either unusual or limited, and most patients see more photofacial benefits than drawbacks.
When you’ll see results and how long they’ll last?
The number of IPL treatments you’ll need before you see results depends on the condition you want to treat and the severity of it. Most patients need three to six sessions, about one month apart. During a consultation, your provider should be able to give you an idea of how many treatments you’ll need.
Taking care of your skin by limiting your sun exposure, wearing sunscreen, and following a good skin care regimen can help prolong your results. You’ll probably also need follow-up treatments every 6–12 months after your initial series to maintain your IPL photofacial benefits.
IPL can make your skin look better, but it can’t stop future aging. “Protecting the skin by applying sunscreen daily is very important after IPL and will prevent future sun damage,” says Dr. Dahabra, the medical director of Beverly Hills Wellness Center & Med Spa in West Palm Beach Gardens, Florida area.
When will you see IPL results and how long will they last?
- The treatment plan for IPL is typically slow and steady, with multiple treatments to achieve full results. Patients often see some improvement in redness within two weeks of their first session, but significant results may not be visible for at least five treatments, particularly for more severe dark spots.
What are the side effects and risks of IPL?
In rare cases, people experience bruising, blistering, a change in skin color, increased melasma, or infection. Dr. Dahabra notes that human error is the real risk when it comes to negative side effects. “The device can easily be used incorrectly by poorly trained staff, and patients can experience burns and, possibly, permanent discoloration of their skin,” she says. To avoid complications, make sure the person performing your treatment has a strong track record of happy patients with good results—and make sure your skin isn’t tanned before your treatment.
How do IPL and laser treatments differ?
While most laser treatments deliver one intensified wavelength in a focused, localized beam, IPL delivers broad-spectrum visible light at multiple wavelengths, by painting the area in broad strokes. According to Dr. Dahabra, this means IPL “can attack several different skin problems at the same time (such as brown spots and red areas), while lasers focusing on a specific wavelength attack only one problem more intensely (brown spots or redness, etc.).” Light from IPL is also more scattered, so it’s able to treat your skin without damaging the top layer, resulting in quicker healing.