Frequently asked questions
What is IPL?
"IPL" stands for "Intense Pulse Light". Also know as a flash lamp device. It is not a laser. An IPL treatment can cater to many different skin concerns-we use IPL to treat redness and vascular lesions, discoloration and sun spots, acne, and aging. An intense dose of high-powered light travels into the skin and treats the problematic skin condition by attacking the chromophore (or pigmented target). IPL is polychromatic light energy so the extra benefit is in instances such as acne or aging, that same intense pulse light kills the acne causing bacteria also stimulates a burst of collagen induction in the skin, producing an anti-aging effect. We use different filters and wavelengths to address a variety of skin concerns.
What does IPL feel like?
IPL feels less painful and more "shocking" due to the intensity and speed. There is a quick pulse of intense heat that lasts a fraction of a second, milliseconds technically, accompanied by a moderate warmth that feels similar to a sunburn. Depending on the chromophore selected, you may experience mild to severe erythema that will last between 1-3 days. A mild sunburn-like sensation is expected, you can apply ice packs (not direct ice) to the treated areas help feel more comfortable over the next couple days.
Is it safe for all skin types?
No, unfortunately. IPL is only safe for Fitzpatrick skin types 1-4. If you have too much melanin in the skin the IPL will focus on the skin as well and you can risk burns and blisters.
How many sessions will I need?
It depends on the chromophore and numerous factors including location and size. In the instance of brown spots/dyschromia, we recommend a series of at least 3 sessions spaced out between 4-8 weeks. The lesions will crust and darken giving coffee ground appearance. Your body will naturally exfoliate theses spots and they will get lighter each subsequent visit until they are gone. Some stubborn spots may require more attention. Lifestyle and home care are also crucially important factors in the efficacy of your treatment(s). Dyschromia can come back with UV exposure and another session or series may be needed in the future.
Clients being treated for redness and rosacea can expect a gradual reduction in the redness of their skin that may last anywhere from months to years. Redness and rosacea are the visual manifestations of a weak vascular system, which creates distended and bulging veins, or "telangectasia". We are able to cut off blood flow to telangectasic skin, but because of the weak vascular system, the redness may return in a different area later in time. Patients seeking treatment for vascular lesions will likely require 4-6 sessions and will be treated intermittently throughout their lives-the goal is to manage the redness, because it can never be truly cured. Touch ups and annual maintenance is recommended.
Acneic clients should plan on visiting us a minimum of 4-6 sessions spaced out between 2 and 4 week intervals to obtain the benefits of p.acnes-killing IPL treatment. We recommend alternating with microneedling to help smooth out acne scars.
Clients seeking anti aging effects from IPL will notice tightening and lifting within a few days after treatment and should schedule IPL treatments intermittently to continue reaping the collagen producing benefits. The full benefits of collagen production is a slow process and can take up to 6 months post session.
What should I do after treatment?
It is imperative to wear an SPF of 45 or greater and avoided unprotected artificial or natural sun for 6 weeks post session. This prevents hyperpigmentation or adverse affects of IPL.
A mild sunburn-like sensation is expected. This usually lasts 1-2 hours but can persist up to 24 hours, individuals may vary. Mild swelling, tenderness and/or redness may accompany this. A topical anti-inflammatory can be used for redness and tenderness. An oral, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be taken to reduce discomfort, use according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Shower as usual. Treated areas may be temperature-sensitive. Avoid soaking in a hot tub of water. Avoid scrubbing, use of exfoliants, scrub brushes and loofah sponges until the treatment area has returned to its pre-treatment condition.
Veins or vascular lesions may undergo immediate graying or blanching (turning white) or they may exhibit a slight purple or red coloring. If the treated area develops crusting or a scab, it will start to flake off in 7-14 days. The vessels will fully or partially fade in about the same amount of time. Repeat treatment to veins may be every 7-14 days, or when the skin has fully recovered.
Until the redness has completely resolved, avoid all of the following:
Applying cosmetics to the treated area
Swimming, especially in pools with chemicals, such as chlorine
Ocean swimming and hot tubs/jacuzzis
Excessive perspiration or irritation to the treated area
Sun exposure to the treated areas – to prevent skin color change.
How should I prepare for treatment?
It’s critical to stay out of the sun while pursuing IPL treatments, as IPL is not safe for those who have had recent sun exposure with any tan in the past 30 days. We recommend a daily 45 SPF to prepare for treatment, protect your skin while receiving treatments, and to preserve results. If you enjoy sunbathing, winter is the best time to pursue IPL treatments.
Abstain from all anti-aging topicals for 72 hours prior to treatment and prescription strength Retin-A for a full week.