What is IPL Therapy?
IPL stands for “intense pulsed light” and is a type of light therapy targeting hyperpigmentation and vascular irregularities of the skin as well as hair removal of the body.
During an IPL facial, a hand-held device that emits pulses of high-energy light, seen as a flash similar to that of a camera, is passed over the skin. The wavelength of this light penetrates the skin and can be selectively controlled to target haemoglobin, a substance naturally found within red blood cells and blood vessels, and melanin, the substance that gives skin its natural pigment. When the light from the IPL device targets these substances, they heat up, contract and are damaged. These damaged cells are then naturally removed by the body and a host of healing responses, such as collagen production, are initiated to repair and remodel these deep tissue layers.
Does IPL Therapy Hurt?
When performed by a well-trained professional an IPL facial is not painful, although a degree of short-lived discomfort may be experienced. Patients liken this to the feeling of a snapping of an elastic band with each pulse of treatment. Immediately after, you may feel a tingling sensation with some level of redness that is sensitive to touch. This feels similar to mild sunburn and will subside 3-5 days after the treatment. Although there is no downtime, proper aftercare of the skin is vital in achieving maximal results. It is important to protect your skin with high SPF sunscreen until the healing phase is complete.
What Problems Areas Can IPL Treat?
The high level of control over the wavelength of the light from the IPL device and the wide coverage of the pulse itself mean IPL therapy can be used to target a range of areas and conditions. This includes pigmentation issues such as sun-damage, age spots and melasmas, vascular issues such as rosacea and spider veins and issues with the texture and appearance of the skin such as scarring, fine lines and wrinkles.
When Can I Expect To See Results From The IPL Treatment?
Although you will feel tightening of the skin immediately following an IPL facial, the body needs time to break down and repair damage and produce sufficient levels of collagen before full effects can be seen. This can be up to 6 months after treatment. For light areas of discolouration and fine capillaries a single treatment is often enough to produce the desired results. For larger areas of concern, a series of 4-6 treatments, each one 4 weeks apart is often recommended.
Who Is Suitable For IPL Therapy?
Compared to other light therapy treatments, IPL is a gentle, non-ablative procedure and is suitable for most skin types including sensitive skin. It is generally not recommended for those with darker skin tones as these skin cells contain a higher level of melanin which may result in unwanted discolouration. You skincare specialist will make an assessment during your initial consultation and tell you whether IPL photo therapy is suitable.
If you are pregnant, have a tendency to develop keloid scarring, have an active skin infection, skin cancer or have recently tanned skin (whether by sunlight, sun bed or tanning creams), you will not be suitable for IPL or other photo therapy treatments.