Your Ultimate Guide To Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Treatment

There’s nothing we can do to slow down the hands of time — aging is inevitable. But today, there are plenty of options on the market to keep your skin in good shape as the years pass by. Whether you’re looking to minimize or prevent the signs of aging, intense pulsed light therapy is your go-to. 

Also known as the IPL facial, or photofacial, this is one of the best cosmetic skin treatments for improving the radiance, texture, and plumpness of the skin — without going under the knife! 

While photoaging is unavoidable, no matter how much skin protection you use, you can rely on IPL photofacials as the best line of defense. Read on to learn more about this treatment…

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Photofacial

What Is a Photofacial and What Are the Benefits?

Intense pulses light therapy focuses on skin rejuvenation through the use of light energy. This light energy targets certain pigments in the skin in order to reduce discoloration on the surface of the skin. 

Discoloration is often the result of acne scarring, age spots/sun damage, rosacea, fine lines, and broken blood vessels. 

One of the main reasons why IPL laser treatment is so efficient is because the high-intensity light penetrates the dermis, the second layer of the skin. This means it treats issues below skin level (the epidermis) without damaging it. 

An added bonus is that there are also far fewer adverse side effects and recovery time needed after your treatment.

To break it down simply, your skin absorbs the light energy emitted by the laser. This energy then converts to heat in the dermis of the skin, which then destroys unwanted areas of pigmentation. 

Are You a Good Candidate for an IPL Photofacial?

IPL therapy is not only an efficient treatment for skin pigmentation and discoloration. It can treat a range of other skin conditions. You might want to consider an IPL facial if you want to improve the appearance of: 

  • Acne scarring 
  • Dark spots of pigmentation caused by hormonal fluctuations 
  • Freckles 
  • Spider veins 
  • Liver or age spots
  • Unwanted facial hair 
  • Obvious birthmarks 

In some cases, IPL therapy is not suitable for certain people. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have a particular skin condition or take strong medications, this therapy may not be for you. It’s also not suitable if you frequently use tanning beds, are very sensitive to light, have severe scarring on your face, have very dark skin, or have had skin cancer. If you have had cold sores/fever blisters on the face you may need pre-treatment to avoid a flare up.

What to Expect During Your Treatment

So, you’re interested in IPL and recently Googled ”IPL photofacial near me”. You might have no trouble finding your nearest cosmetic clinic, but what do you really know about the actual procedure?

First thing’s first, here’s how to prepare for your treatment: 

  • You’ll have to stay out of the sun for a few days before your treatment — this also includes tanning beds and spray tans! 
  • Don’t schedule a chemical peel or any other facial treatments for at least 2 weeks before your treatment and stop retinol/Retin-A the week before.
  • Make sure your skin is completely free from makeup and creams before your arrival 
  • Remember not to wear anything that could irritate your skin, such as perfume or deodorant 
  • Avoid taking blood-thinning painkillers, such as aspirin, before IPL 
  • Avoid taking specific medication that could make you sensitive to laser therapy, such as doxycycline

When you arrive for your treatment, your technician will take some time to prepare your skin. This includes cleaning off any excess oils and possibly applying a cool, numbing gel. After that, you’ll wear dark glasses to protect your eyes. 

The numbing gel takes about 20-30 minutes to set in. After that, your technician will apply the IPL device directly to the skin in the specific, targeted areas you’d like treated. You may feel a warm, tingly, or stinging sensation against the skin as the laser works its magic. 

All in all, IPL laser treatment does not take much longer than 20-30 minutes. 

Post Treatment Care 

While we all have different pain thresholds, recovery is different for everyone. For some people, it might feel like they’re dealing with sensitive, sunburnt skin for approximately 4-6 hours, post-treatment. For others, they might just feel mild sensitivity. It also depends on the extent of your treatment and the areas your technician worked on. 

Your skin will appear slightly red for about 1-2 days, too. Bear in mind that it’s completely normal for pigmentation spots to darken first, then fade away within a week (sometimes a couple of weeks). 

Here are a few aftercare tips to keep in mind: 

  • Avoid wearing makeup while your skin is feeling sensitive 
  • It’s important to keep your skin well hydrated with a nourishing moisturizer or face oil
  • Always apply sunscreen to your face while your skin recovers (and thereafter) — even if it’s cloudy 
  • Use skin-sensitive face wash products — nothing too harsh 
  • Avoid products that contain retinol or Retin-A for at least a week while your skin heals 

Your technician/dermatologist will advise you on the best time to start up your usual skincare routine and continue using your normal products. IPL treatment is not a one-hit-wonder that miraculously dissolves all your pigmentation in one session. 

It’s wise to book yourself between 3-7 sessions in order to see true, long-lasting results. You might also need to space out your treatments with 2-3 weeks in between them. 

Keep in mind that you won’t see instant results, either. The true extent of IPL therapy reveals itself about 4 weeks after the last treatment.

Are There Any Side Effects to IPL Treatment? 

One of the major benefits of a photofacial is that there is very little downtime post-treatment. It’s also a very safe procedure when carried out by a certified and experienced technician/dermatologist. However, there are some side-effects worth mentioning (although some are very rare): 

  • Your skin might feel extra sensitive and certain areas might swell 
  • Specific spots of skin might bleed very slightly 
  • You can expect spots of pigmentation to darken at first before they fade away 
  • Rarely, some spots of skin might blister and form small scabs.  It’s very important not to pick them off!

As with any cosmetic treatment, you want to reach out to your dermatologist if you experience unusual amounts of pain, swelling, or discomfort. Always contact the cosmetic clinic right away if you suspect you have an infection. 

Thinking About Intense Pulsed Light Therapy? 

If you’re searching for a photofacial near me, then Total Family Wellness offers the professionals you’re looking for. Not only do we offer intense pulsed light therapy, but a range of treatments to help you look and feel your best. 

If you’re based in the Tampa, Florida area, get in touch with Dr. Moss for the skin rejuvenation therapy you never knew you needed!