Dilated blood vessels and age spots can be embarrassing. An effective treatment for vascular conditions and brown spots such as these is intense pulse light (IPL) therapy. Our dermatology clinic, headed by Drs. Matsuda and Sheu in Honolulu, offers IPL therapy to its patients.
What is IPL?
IPL is also called “flashlamp therapy.” Non-invasive and non-ablative, the procedure uses high intensity pulses of light to treat conditions with the skin and blood vessels. IPL treatments are also associated with photorejuvenation, a procedure done to rejuvenate the skin.
What can be treated by IPL?
IPL can help reduce the appearance of the following skin conditions:
- Vascular lesions, including rosy cheeks, broken facial veins, rosacea, spider angiomas, and red thread veins on the legs
- Facial lines and wrinkles
- Age marks and freckles
- Ingrown hair and pseudofolliculitis barbae (more commonly known as “razor bumps”)
- Unwanted hair growth
- Pimples and skin darkening
- Scar coloration and texture
How does IPL work?
IPL penetrates the skin surface with polychromatic and high intensity light emitted in short blasts. The light blasts break up the melanin responsible for brown age spots. As the skin repairs itself, your skin tone becomes more even. Another benefit of IPL is that it induces the body to produce more elastin and collagen, which gives the skin more volume.
When compared to lasers, which can only deliver a single color of light at one time, pulse lights can deliver light in hundreds to thousands of different colors at a time. Pulse light machines also make use of “cut off” filters, which function by selecting only the desired wavelengths to be delivered. Depending on the skin condition being treated, these wavelengths can be individualized to reach certain areas in the skin.
What is involved in a typical IPL procedure?
Before the start of any treatment, the patient needs to have a clear understanding of the entire procedure. Below are some instructions that may be given to you.
- Sun exposure has to be avoided days and weeks prior to and after treatment.
- A topical anesthetic may be used and applied to the treated area.
- A cold gel will be applied to the treated area as IPL devices have built-in cooling systems.
- To deliver accurate light pulses, the smooth IPL treatment head will be applied to the treatment area.
- Each session typically lasts 20 minutes. Treatments usually involve four to six sessions spaced three to six weeks apart in order to achieve the desired outcome.
- Patients who undergo this treatment can resume their regular activities immediately after their appointments.
- Throughout the procedure, patients wear protective eye gear.
Unlike other facial rejuvenation procedures, IPL treatments are nearly painless. Patients usually compare the sensation to a light pinch or a rubber band snap.