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What Is An IPL (Photofacial) And What Can It Do For My Face?

Do you have brown spots/unwanted freckles/age spots/melasma/broken capillaries/redness/rosacea or all of the above? If so, IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) Therapy is your ticket for removing it! Other than acne and wrinkles, these issues are a complaint of most the people I treat. Although you may despise your wrinkles, removing pigmentation may actually improve the youthful look of your face as much or equal to using BOTOX or fillers while still keeping your face looking natural. All that said, how does it work?

How Does The Technology of IPL Remove Those Things From Your Face?

ipl before afterThe way IPL systems work is by using light energy which is absorbed into particular target cells with color (redness or brown pigment) in the skin. The light energy is converted to heat energy, which causes damage to the specific target area. What’s great about IPL systems is that I can adjust the depth or wavelength of the system by using different filters which can address multiple issues on the face with one system. By using filters to refine the energy output for the treatment of certain areas, I can target problem areas without using excessive energy levels, lessening risk factors for your skin. When you have issues with brown pigment, the laser targets and destroys the hyperactive melanin in your skin, removing the brown spot. If your issue is rosacea or redness, the laser cauterizes those broken capillaries and redness and removes it.

You Know What’s Amazing About The IPL? It Helps With All Of The Following!

Although the IPL laser is designed to treat pigment and redness, a single treatment actually does a whole host of other things too. In a single IPL treatment you can see the following:lumenis-m22

  • Reduction/Removal of age spots
  • Reduction/Removal of redness/rosacea
  • Reduction/Removal of broken capillaries
  • Smoothing/Tightening of the skin
  • Reduction of pore size
  • Reduction/Removal of black hairs and peach fuzz
  • Reduction of minor wrinkles
  • Overall brightening effect on the skin

To see some fantastic before and after photos, please check out the following site and play with the pictures on it, you’ll be amazed!

Before And After IPL Photos

Why IPL Is Better Than Fractional Lasering For Pigment

I have done tons of IPL lasers in my time, additionally I have done fractional lasering as well. I far prefer IPL over fractional (sometimes called Fraxal) lasering. You can get the same effect with IPL as fractional without all the risk. Fractional is an ablative procedure (meaning it’s burning holes in your skin), which equals SIGNIFICANT down time, significant sun sensitivity for months afterwards (which means a risk of all of your damage returning) and all of this has a big price tag (usually thousands of dollars). You can get equal or better results with IPL without the risks of Fractional lasers at a much lower cost. I should note that I do think there is a time and place for Fractional lasering, I just don’t feel it’s the best choice for those with pigment issues.

What Is The Process Of Getting An IPL/Photofacial?

IPL effectsWhen you come in for this service, here is what to expect: you will feel the laser, it feels like a rubber band snap but without the stinging afterwards. It’s very fast, an average service takes less that 15 minutes. You’ll leave feeling sort of hot, like a sunburn, but that sensation only lasts about 30 minutes or so. You’ll be pinker in the area when you leave, that can last from 30 minutes to occasionally a few days. (Most of the time if you are treating redness it lingers longer than if you’re treating age spots.) If you have freckles/age spots they will darken over the course of a few days and start to rise to the surface of your skin. They then begin to look like coffee grounds on your skin as they flake off. If you are treating redness, you’ll begin to see the redness subside within days, sometimes even the next day. Generally speaking, all the effects of the laser are very easy to hide with makeup and most of the time, no one will notice your down time but you. Usually within a week you are looking significantly better but it takes a full month to see the full effects of IPL lasering.

How Many Treatments Will It Take?

This is a tough question to answer because it varies per person. I would say that most of the time I can fix issues within 1-3 treatments. If you have big time rosacea, you can expect up to 5 treatments to truly correct the problem. After your initial series of treatments, you should expect to be back to do a single treatment once a year or so. If you use your sunscreen well, you can expect to only come in every few years to retreat.

What Are The Potential Side Effects?

With IPL lasering you are having a lot of concentrated energy put into your skin. The worst things that can happen would be a potential for bruising, some swelling, occasionally a heat rash effect or a bit of acne breakout. While it’s not fun to have these potential issues, folks that have these side effects tend to have the best results from their IPL laser, so even though it’s not fun, the end result is worth it. I must say that these things don’t happen often but they can happen even with the best laser technician.

Also with IPL laser you will have greater sun sensitivity for a couple of weeks after. It doesn’t mean you can’t go outside after it, just that you will need to be diligent with your sunscreen use after you’re finished.

Be Careful Of Who Does Your TreatmentIPL burn

I have to tell you that it totally makes a difference who does your IPL treatment. Of course I’d love for you to come see me for this but if you’re reading this outside the area of St Louis, PLEASE do your homework! Make sure you find an office with a newer machine that is regularly maintenanced (we update our machine annually) and even more important – find an experienced technician. I believe it took me a good 5 years of lasering to get my technique/settings etc down and I personally would not see a technician with less than 5 years of experience. And PLEASE PLEASE don’t buy a Groupon for your IPL laser, there’s a reason they have to sell their services for such a cheap amount…usually because their machine isn’t great or their technician isn’t experience or BOTH! What are the risks in a bad IPL laser? You could get burned, badly….or you could get zero results from using settings that are too low.

Last Words

IPL/Photofacial treatments are a great way to get fantastic improvements in your skin. It’s an amazing tool that I literally spend half my day doing nearly every day at work. If you have pigmentation issues with your skin, nothing works better!

Jennifer Warmann-Bloss


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* Testimonials do not represent a guarantee of results for more information click here.