Say goodbye to the effects of sun damage, rosacea, hyperpigmentation, and more. With the innovative Intense Pulsed Light (IPL™) photofacial/ fotofacial procedure, gentle skin rejuvenation is now easier than ever. IPL™ photorejuvenation is the latest in modern dermatology, allowing patients to transform red, blotchy skin into a radiant complexion. If you suffer from any of these problems, photofacial/fotofacial treatments may be the dermatological approach you’ve been looking for.
What Is IPL™ Photofacial/Fotofacial?
A photofacial, or “fotofacial,” is a 30-minute procedure in which intense pulses of light are used to penetrate deep into the skin. IPL™ photorejuvenation then causes collagen and blood vessels below the epidermis to constrict, reducing redness and age lines. The procedure involves only minimal discomfort, while the redness and swelling that sometimes occur after treatment disappear shortly. Most benefits of a photofacial/fotofacial occur gradually in the weeks following treatment. For even greater cosmetic enhancement, patients may also opt for a FotoFacial RF™, a procedure that combines radio waves with light waves to achieve excellent results.
People who have blotchy, sun-damaged, or discolored skin, or whose skin is affected by large pores, freckles, or wrinkles, may benefit from an IPLTM photofacial. The procedure is also quick and involves no downtime, making it a convenient option for people with busy schedules. Those with dark or deeply tanned skin sometimes experience complications following IPLTM photofacial treatment. Patients should discuss such issues with a trained dermatologist before undergoing treatment.
People with white, untanned skin that is still somewhat elastic are the best candidates for an IPLTM photofacial. It is also important for patients to have a realistic understanding about what the procedure can do. When performed on the right person, it effectively improves skin texture, eliminating discolorations, reducing pore size, and minimizing wrinkles and fine lines. If you have rosacea, a condition that causes blotchy redness in the face, you may also benefit from an IPLTM photofacial. For more serious issues – heavy facial lines and severe acne scars, for example – patients may wish to consider more aggressive treatment, such as a face lift or a brow lift.
People with tanned or naturally dark skin sometimes experience changes in skin pigmentation after IPLTM photofacial treatment. African-Americans and people of Greek and Italian descent, for example, may wish to discuss possible side effects with a dermatologist before opting for this procedure. Additionally, people who are taking the medication Accutane® should not have an IPLTM photofacial until at least six months after they stop using the drug. Pregnant women should also postpone treatment until after they give birth.
An IPLTM photofacial can be an effective way to eliminate many cosmetic issues, including moderate acne scars and rosacea. When such factors are particularly severe, however, photodynamic therapy (PDT) may be a better option. While this procedure is slightly more invasive than an IPLTM photofacial, it often provides better treatment for pronounced redness in the face as well as deeper scarring caused by acne. Like an IPLTM photofacial, PDT also encourages the production of new collagen, reducing fine lines and improving skin tone. Speaking to a cosmetic dermatologist is the best way to determine if PDT is right for you.
The IPLTM photofacial is an effective way to minimize the aesthetic impact of enlarged pores, light wrinkles, and moderate sun damage. Because it is non-invasive, it allows doctors to make cosmetic improvements quickly, conveniently, and with very little risk or discomfort. Laser skin resurfacing, on the other hand, is used to deal with more serious skin problems, such as deep wrinkles, serious sun damage, and severe acne scarring. In evaluating the benefits of an IPLTM photofacial vs. laser skin resurfacing, there are a few differences patients should be aware of.
To begin with, the IPLTM photofacial is nonablative, meaning no skin is removed during the procedure. In laser skin resurfacing, on the other hand, doctors treat wrinkles, skin discolorations, and other blemishes by removing extremely fine layers of skin with a laser. Because laser skin resurfacing is more invasive, it involves a longer recovery period than the IPLTM photofacial (which has no downtime) as well as a greater risk of complications. For many people, the often dramatic results achieved compensate for any negative factors associated with the procedure. If you are not sure whether a photofacial or laser skin resurfacing would be more appropriate for you, speaking to a dermatologist can help.
How IPL™ Photorejuvenation Works
During IPL™ photorejuvenation treatment, high energy light waves are used to reduce or eliminate many common effects of aging, including facial wrinkles and skin discolorations. IPL™ light also encourages the production of collagen, a natural protein that fills in wrinkles, making the skin smooth and supple. With each treatment, the results of IPL™ photorejuvenation become more pronounced. Five full-face IPL™ photofacial/fotofacial sessions spaced three weeks apart are normally required for optimal results.
What to Expect During Treatment
Before the procedure begins, you will be given protective eyewear to protect you from the bright flashes of light. A cool gel is often applied to the treatment area, both to lubricate the handpiece and to help cool the epidermis during the treatment. Your skin care specialist will apply brief pulses of bright light to the skin through the handpiece. Depending on the size of the area being treated, the procedure may take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour.
During the IPLTM photofacial procedure, you will feel a warm sensation caused by the handpiece. Some patients liken the sensation to a light “snap” from a rubber band. The number of pulses you receive will depend on the size of the area being treated. Following the procedure, your skin care specialist may help you in icing down the treatment area to help soothe any discomfort from the procedure. This is often unnecessary, however, as IPLTM photofacial treatment causes very little pain.
The recovery time from an IPLTM skin procedure is often very short, as there is very little damage done to the skin during treatment. Depending on the skin malady you are seeking to remedy as well as your skin type, the redness that is present following the procedure may persist for a longer or shorter period of time. The side effects of IPLTM photofacial treatment dissipate within a few hours for many patients. For some patients, however, the redness or dark spots may take a week to fade. Patients treated for severe acne sometimes experience longer recovery times, though they are often amazed by the results when the side effects wear off.
The most important things to remember following IPLTM photofacial treatment are to avoid the sun for several days and to wear plenty of sunblock for at least two weeks. Intense pulsed light therapy can give you excellent results for a year or more, but you must take care to ensure your skin is protected for the first few weeks after treatment.
Follow-Up IPLTM Treatments
Often, multiple IPLTM photofacial treatments are necessary to achieve maximum results. Especially if you are seeking to remedy multiple problems – for instance, if you are seeking to improve skin texture and reduce redness – multiple treatments affecting different layers of the skin will likely be needed. Your skin care specialist can help you find out how many IPLTM photofacial treatments you may need to achieve your cosmetic goals.