Frequently Asked Questions about Intense Pulse Light Treatment
What results are anticipated with IPL?
When treating brown spots (hyperpigmentation) or melasma (larger areas of brown discoloration) there can be an immediate darkening of some of the area treated. This occurs if there is brown pigment that is superficially located in the layers of your skin. This is a sign of good things to come! This response typically resolves in 7-14 days, at which time most people will notice a slight lightening of many superficial brown spots. If the pigment is located in the deeper layers of skin, as is often the case in melasma, there may be no initial darkening of the excess pigment. To improve deeper pigment issues and brown spots, a series of treatments will be needed before you will notice normal healthy skin emerge with significantly fewer brown spots and general discoloration. It is not always possible to eliminate all spots and browness, however, dramatic lightening and improvement is common.
The IPL (Limelight) can also be used to treat facial, neck and chest redness. Redness can look slightly more evident and patchy after treatment. A short series of treatments is typically needed to see significant results.
What does the IPL treatment feel like?
The sensation of the IPL is a mild stinging sensation. A bright light will be evident even thought your eyes are completely protected with IPL eye shields. Anesthetics are typically not required. Afterwards, there can be a mild “sunburn” sensation that usually goes away after 1-2 days.
What are the common side effects of IPL?
The most common (and expected) side effect is a darkening of the more superficial brown spots of the areas being treating. This darkening of superficial brown spots will flake off after about 7-14 days. There can also be generalized redness of the sin and redness around the brown spots (like a halo). This can last for 48-72 hours. To avoid complications, IPL should not be done during the sunniest months of the year, or prior to or after sun exposure. We typically schedule treatments during the fall, winter and spring, avoiding summer’s sunnier months.
What is the cost and how many treatments will I need?
The cost is based on the size of the area being treated and the number of treatments needed to address the specific problem. If treating brown spots or melasma, most people will need up to 6 treatments for ideal results. If treating redness, most people will require approximately 3 treatments. Treatments are done every 3 – 4 weeks. Individual quotes for cost and number of treatments needed to treat your unique situation will be provided at the time of your consultation, after we have had an oppportunity to do a complete assessment of your skin.
Is there any downtime with IPL?
There is minimal downtime with IPL treatments. Darkened brown spots or discoloration can be covered with make-up if desired. Typically, darkening and discoloration is most evident after the first treatment and is less obvious with subsequent treatments. To avoid complications and obtain the best possible outcome, we require that you do not tan or use spray tan/self tanner 2 weeks before your treatment. Also, it is recommended that you avoid direct sun exposure for 48 hours before or after your treatment. Treatments should never be done over recently tanned skin.
How long do the results of the IPL treatments last?
With proper skin care and sun protection following IPL treatments, results can last for years. Remember that skin is genetically programmed to create brown spots in response to UV radiation exposure. It is impossible to avoid all sun exposure and so even with the best of skin care and protection, new brown spots may emerge gradually over time. Proper skin care and protection is the only thing standing between you and appearance of future brown spots.
It is critical that the recommended skin care regimen be followed regularly and year around. Discoloration and skin damage does not only occur during the sunny months. Significant discoloration can be initiated in the dreary dark winter months when there is much less sunshine. The damage often does not become apparent until the sunnier summer months. To protect your results and financial investment, you must protect your skin year around with skin care products designed to suppress the development of brown and red discoloration. Typically, most people find that they may need a single maintenance IPL treatment once a year.
How does the IPL work?
The IPL is the best treatment for fading away excess brown pigment (freckles, sun/age spots, melasma) as well as clearing facial redness associated with Rosacea and sun damage. The IPL targets the cells that contain the excess pigment and then causes the pigment to rise to the surface of the skin where it sloughs off. Because excess pigment is deposited at various levels/layers of the skin it takes up to 6 treatments to reach the deeper layers of pigment and to obtain optimal results. For facial redness the IPL closes down the tiny blood vessels that cause the redness. The IPL can be used to treat all areas of the body