Intense Pulsed Light(IPL)
What is Intense Pulsed Light Therapy?
Intense pulsed light (IPL) is a non-invasive treatment that uses high intensity pulses of visible light to improve the appearance of the skin. It can treat surface blood vessels in the skin (including spider naevi, port wine stains, broken facial veins, rosy cheeks and thread veins of the legs) and for improving the skin texture (mild acne spots, freckles and age marks, facial lines and wrinkles. The procedure of rejuvenating aged skin is referred to as photorejuvenation and may consist of a series of IPL treatments. IPL may also be used for hair removal. Treatment of unwanted hair works best when the hair is deeply pigmented.
What are the advantages of IPL?
The treatment is quick, gentle and non-invasive. A hand-piece is placed against the skin, which is covered with a cooling conducting gel. The pulses of light are delivered through a filter which is selected based on the patient's skin type. The light penetrates the tissue and is absorbed by either the blood when treating vascular lesions or the melanin when treating pigmented lesions. The target cells (blood vessels or hair follicles) are damaged by absorbing the light energy without damaging the rest of the skin. The body's natural processes then remove the injured tissue giving the skin a more even, luminous, younger looking skin.
How does IPL work?
The smooth, glass surface of the IPL treatment head is applied to the skin, delivering precise pulses of light to the area being treated. Treatment sessions usually last about 20 minutes. A course of 3-6 sessions every 3-6 weeks may be needed to achieve desired results. A new development is the PPX device which applies gentle suction to the skin prior to delivering the light. This results in less discomfort and more effective delivery of the light to the target cells.
How many treatments do I need?
The treatment is generally administered as a series of between 3-6 treatments at 3-6 week intervals. The number of treatments varies according to the desired outcome. Because hairs grow in cycles, IPL treatments need to be repeated in order to target hair follicles that were dormant during previous treatment sessions. Light based treatments are generally ineffective for treating fair hair. Photorejuvenation treatments depend on the extent of skin ageing.
How long do the results last for?
Some skin abnormalities are permanently treated following a course of IPL. Other conditions require a combination approach to gain the maximum benefit. The anticipated results of your treatment will be carefully explained during your consultation.
Are there any side effects?
Some patients may experience some mild stinging during treatment (reduced by contact cooling and if necessary, anaesthetic cream). Skin can turn pink and a little sore immediately after the procedure and some experience a sensation of mild sunburn that may last a few days after treatment. Rarely, skin pigment may absorb too much light energy and blistering can occur. Sometimes IPL affects the pigment cells leaving slightly darker or paler areas of skin. If your skin type is at a significant risk of side effects, you will be offered an alternative treatment.