Intense Pulsed Light, also known as IPL, was originally developed in the 1990’s to treat redness and vessels in the skin. Since then, the use of IPL has expanded to include the treatment of age spots, acne, sun damage, to rejuvenate the skin and even remove hair. Instead of a true laser, which uses a focused coherent beam of a single wavelength, IPL technology uses a range of wavelengths that can be customized using different filters. The selection of filter depends on what condition we are aiming to ameliorate.
In my practice, IPL is a workhorse laser as it improves what most people have concerns about as they get older, especially in a sunny climate such as Los Angeles: pigmentation. Because pigmentation is such a common concern, I recommend IPL treatments for almost all patients who seek to improve their skin.
One of the next most common aging concerns is skin laxity. There are many different brands of IPL machines on the market and overall they all use very similar technology. One particular study, however, was done on our brand of IPL laser, Sciton BBL. Our Sciton BBL laser has specifically been shown to activate genes that are usually inactivated as we get older which proves that it reverses aging. Therefore, we recommend IPL treatments as a maintenance treatment to keep skin as youthful as possible.
The next most common concern patients have is redness. IPL also addresses redness in the form of small dilated vessels, angiomas, or just overall redness due to sun damage or rosacea.
Recovery from IPL usually takes about a week and can involve redness, swelling and small scabs. One should take care to keep the skin moisturized and avoid the sun during the recovery period.
As you can see, IPL addresses a number of very common concerns that patients present with and that is why it is so extremely useful. Although useful, IPL must be used with caution as the main potential complications include (in order of least concerning to most concerning): failure to respond to treatment, hyperpigmentation, delayed healing, blistering and even scarring, which can occur if settings are high enough to burn the skin. Although complications are not common, we cannot predict when they will happen; therefore, initial screening of patients and communication of the possible complications are very important before beginning treatment. In addition, multiple treatments are recommended to achieve the most benefit, and it is important to keep in mind patients do vary in response to treatment.
If you have concerns or are interested in IPL treatments, please make an appointment to discuss this with your favorite dermatologist at Skin and Beauty Center today!