Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), sometimes known as photorejuvenation or photofacial, uses short, concentrated bursts of light to treat sun spots, age spots and other undesirable pigmentation concerns of the skin.

First approved by the FDA in 1995, IPL treatments are a tried and tested technology that has proven highly effective at helping suitable patients improve skin tone and texture. We are pleased to offer this safe skin rejuvenation option to our patients at U Laser Med Spa in San Diego.

IPL is ideal for the face, hands, chest and other areas that are chronically exposed to the sun. Compared to more aggressive laser treatments, IPL is gentler and more comfortable, and requires little or no downtime. Multiple treatments may be required to attain your desired outcome. We often recommend a series of three sessions spaced six weeks apart to achieve the best results.

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How Does an IPL Facial Work?

IPL treatments impact the skin on a molecular level. The scattered wavelengths of intense, visible broad-spectrum light delivered by this treatment works to target different types of pigment producing cells. As light energy is converted into heat energy in the deeper dermal levels of the skin, unwanted pigment-producing cells are heated. Uneven pigment is dispersed, as the destroyed cells are naturally reabsorbed by the body. This makes IPL a suitable treatment for patients who are concerned with brown spots, broken capillaries, sun spots, freckles, and rosacea.

Beyond rejuvenating blotchy, sun-damaged skin, studies have shown that in the long term, consistent IPL treatments can also help to reverse the signs of aging. Studies have shown that just two to three photofacials a year were able to induce older skin cells to behave like younger skin cells at the genetic level. Moreover, the heat energy that penetrates into the dermis is also able to stimulate collagen production. This results in an improved appearance of the fine lines and wrinkles.

Areas That Can be Treated with IPL

A highly versatile procedure, IPL can be used to reverse the signs of sun damage and aging across many areas of the body. The most commonly treated areas include:

  • Face
  • Neck
  • Chest/Décolleté
  • Hands
  • Arms
  • Legs
  • Shoulders

Suitable Candidates For IPL Treatments

Not everyone is a suitable patient for IPL. Because of the nature of the treatment, patients with fairer skin types respond best. Patients with darker skin tones, including those of Mediterranean descent, need to be careful with light therapy as it can potentially result in the development of undesirable pigmentation changes. Our experienced and qualified laser nurses will assess your skin during your in-person consultation to determine whether an IPL treatment is suitable for you. Alternative treatments that are safer for your skin type will be recommended if IPL is found not to be the best approach for you.

How to Achieve the Best Results From Your IPL Facial

In order to benefit the most from IPL skin rejuvenation, it is imperative to choose the right person to deliver your treatment. While side effects of a properly administered treatment are minimal, you place yourself at risk if the light is not delivered at the right settings for your skin. At U Laser Med Spa, our cosmetic nurses have extensive laser experience and practice under the supervision of our two board-certified Plastic Surgeons, Dr. William Umansky and Dr. Jeffrey Umansky. Their in-depth understanding of skin anatomy and laser technology means that you are in safe hands.

We will provide you with clear instructions on how you can prepare your skin before the procedure so it is in the optimal condition to receive the treatment.

What to Expect During Your IPL Treatment

You will be provided with eyewear before your treatment to protect your eyes from the bright flashes of light. Your laser nurse specialist will guide the IPL hand piece to apply brief pulses of light to the skin.

Most patients do not feel much discomfort or pain during an IPL procedure, which is often described as a gentle rubber band snapping against the skin. However, if you have any concerns at all about discomfort, please let us know during your consultation and options for numbing can be provided. Your safety and comfort are of utmost importance to us.

The length of your treatment depends entirely on the number of areas that are being treated, the size of the treated areas, and the number of passes that are needed. Most treatments, however, can be completed within an hour, which is why IPLs are sometimes referred to as the ‘lunchtime facial’. We will provide you with a more accurate estimate during your in-person consultation.

What Can I Expect After a Photofacial?

There is very minimal downtime after an IPL treatment. While your skin may appear a little red and be warm to the touch immediately after the procedure, you will be able to apply makeup to cover this. After the first treatment, dark spots may appear darker in the first week after a treatment, or they may even crust over. This is entirely normal and can likewise be covered with light makeup. After the first week, you will usually be able to see and enjoy the results of your treatment.

It is absolutely important to protect your skin from the sun after your IPL treatment. You should avoid the sun and apply sunscreen consistently in the first week following your treatment. Sunburns or over-exposure to the sun can cause a recurrence of dark spots, especially while your skin is healing after IPL.

The results from IPL treatments improve over time, with best results seen about three months after your last treatment. Patients who would like to maintain their skin after an initial course of three IPL treatments are encouraged to return for follow up treatments each year.