Every year, millions of patients visit the dermatologist office complaining of skin problems including fine lines and wrinkles, persistent red complexion, sun spots, acne scars, large pores and other blemishes. Various treatments, including microdermabrasion, chemical peels and laser resurfacing have been used to improve these conditions. Intense pulsed light is a new, non-ablative technique to treat the above described conditions and is also called photorejuvenation.

How does IPL (Photofacial) work?

The IPL hand piece delivers high intensity pulses of broadband light that is different from the narrow band light of lasers. IPL, which stands for intensed pulsed light, is non-ablative meaning that is does not damage the surface of the skin. The intense light is delivered to the deeper parts of the skin (dermis) and leaves the superficial aspect of the skin (epidermis) untouched. The thermal effect of IPL also causes production of new collagen, leading to improvement in wrinkles.

What are IPL’s advantages?

As discussed above, IPL does not damage the skin surface, unlike dermabrasion and laser resurfacing. Therefore, there is virtually no recovery time. Treatments take approximately 30-45 minutes. Patients can apply makeup before leaving the office and return to work the same day. There is also minimal pain with IPL, unlike laser or radiofrequency resurfacing which both require topical anesthetic. Also, with IPL, a larger area can be treated at one time than with laser treatment.

What are IPL’s disadvantages?

Given that there is little damage to the skin surface, several treatments may be required to see the desired effect. For best results, approximately 4-6 treatments, spaced 3 weeks apart, are needed. Side effects can include transient redness and increased or decreased pigment in the treated area. Minimizing sun exposure can reduce these side effects.